Teach Me to Talk: Building Verbal Imitation in ToddlersTeach Me to Talk - The Therapy Manual
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March 02, 2012 | Laura | Comments 3

Therapy Tip of the Week 3.2.12

Here’s this week’s Therapy Tip of the Week:


Therapy Tip of the Week for 3.2.12


Balls are developmentally appropriate and a fun toy for toddlers between 1-3 years old. Remember that you’re looking at a child’s developmental age here. Let’s face it; even older kids love balls!

Ball is also a great, early word for late talkers. Why? Because the word “ball” meets all the criteria for Word Selection for Establishing an Early Vocabulary. Those 3 keys are: 

1. Choose high frequency words - meaning words a toddler hears often. Most families own a ball, and likely, more than one, so it’s not a new brand word.     

2. Choose easy words - meaning words with simple syllable construction.

Many toddlers, even those with typically developing speech-language skills, say ball as “ba.” It’s a consonant-vowel (CV) combination which makes it among the 5 earliest syllable patterns we note with babies and toddlers. (For a brand new talker, please don’t overemphasize articulation or getting the right sounds in the right places just yet. Praise his attempts. Many children don’t master final /l/ until they’re 3 or 4.)

3.  Choose words with sounds he can already say - meaning you’ve heard the child use the sounds in other words or in babbling/jargon. 

“Ball” begins with an initial /b/, which is a bilabial or a sound made with both lips. Bilabials /b, p, m/ are usually among the first sounds babies acquire. Ideas for helping a child learn to get his lips together were included in the video.   

Some of my favorite ball toys and the concepts/words to target with each are included in the video. For more ideas with ball toys, read this article:


By watching the video I hope you’ll get some new ideas for sessions or playing with your own child!

I welcome your feedback or questions!

Until next week - Laura


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  1. Someone emailed to ask about the blue ball that pushed flat. It’s called a Phlat ball. I’ve bought them at Target and Walmart in the Nerf toy aisle. They are also available online at amazon. I prefer the full-sized balls and the ones that are textured vs. the smaller ones that are plastic. The verbal routine that I use with this one is:

    “Ball. Push. Wait. Wait. Wait. Pop! More ball?” Repeat routine.

    If you’re not sure how to use Verbal Routines or why those are important to help a young child learn to talk, check out my book Teach Me To Talk: The Therapy Manual.

    Here’s the link:


    Happy playing! Laura

  2. I LOVE balls for verbal routines! Here’s another fun ball toy. You squeeze the belly and the ball pops out. Very fun for older toddlers, as the balls are rather small.

    Great for p’s and b’s!


  3. Hi Trisha!! I thought I’d already written you back,but I don’t see it on here. I love, love, love the pig toy - I found it at Cracker Barrel the day after I filmed the video clip for balls. I bought the dog/puppy too and love them both. Thanks for the great ideas! Laura

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