Bubbles are a fun, portable, mesmerising and a number one go-to toy for Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists alike! Bubbles are engaging, motivating and can be used to encourage all aspects of communication, social, fine motor and gross motor development.
Here are 21 bubble games which you can play to support your child’s early development today!
1. Hand/Eye Co-ordination and Fine Motor Skill Development
Bubble Pop: Practice popping the bubbles at your child’s skill level. You can pop the bubbles by waving your hands in the air, grabbing with your whole hand, using your index finger (pointer finger), clicking, flicking or pinching the bubbles! Use your imagination; you can even try catching the bubbles with a spoon!
If your child has difficulty popping floating bubbles, catch one on the bubble wand and then pop it.
2. Visual Tracking, Attention and Hand/Eye Co-ordination
Bubble Flashlight: Follow a bubble’s flight with a flashlight or a laser pen. To make it easier, just watch where the bubbles go together. Can you watch them until they pop?
3. Crossing the Midline
One-handed Bubble Pop: Encourage your child to pop the bubbles with one hand only. This will mean your child will have to reach across their body to pop the bubbles on the opposite side.
4. Using Both Hands Simultaneously
Two-handed Bubble Pop: Clap the bubbles to pop them, or pop them using both pointer fingers together!
5. Establishing a Dominant Hand and Helper Hand
Bubble Blowing: Get your child to use his/her helper hand to hold the bubble tube, and the dominant hand to dip the bubble wand or unscrew the cap. If your child has not yet established a dominant hand, you can practice swapping hands!
A handy trick to work out which hand your child is beginning to favour as a dominant hand, is to hold the bubble tube out towards the middle of your child’s chest. See which hand your child favours to reach out and take the bubbles with.
6. Fine Motor Development
Bubble Art: Mix a small amount of food colouring in the bubble liquid. Give your child a canvas or thick piece of paper to try and catch the bubbles on. Your child can draw a picture over the bubble art, scribble or practice writing their name for extra fine motor practice.
7. Breath Support and Calming
Bubble Blow: The physical act of blowing can be a very effective sensory-based way to help your child calm, organise and focus the body. How long can your child keep the bubbles in the air by blowing underneath them? Practice taking a deep breath and blowing bubbles into the air on the exhalation. Quietly watch the bubbles float away together.
8. Sensory Processing
Bubble Touch: Encourage your child to chase the bubbles while walking/crawling through different sensations. Try long grass, sand, rice, shaving foam, carpet, wet floor etc. Touching bubbles is also a sensory experience in itself!
9. Trunk Control, Core Stability and Balance
Bubble Balance: Have your child sit or stand on an uneven surface while trying to pop the bubbles. Your child could sit or stand on a pillow or sofa cushion, stand in a sand pit, sit on a gym ball or even stand on a wobble board!
10. Body Awareness and Gross Motor Skill Development
Bubble Dodge: Place some obstacle course equipment around the room (pillows, sofa cushions, balls, chairs, small tables, tunnel etc.) and blow the bubbles over and under them. Your child then needs to navigate the items to pop the bubbles!
11. Gross Motor Development
Bubble Stomp: Wait for the bubbles to land on the floor and then pop them! Depending on your child’s skill level kick them, crawl through them, stomp them, jump or hop on them or even wheelbarrow walk through them.
12. Balance and Gross Motor Skill Development
Bubble Freeze: Dance through the bubbles but remember to freeze when the music stops! Make the music pause longer to encourage your child to freeze for longer.
13. Personal Space and Body Awareness
Bubble Dancing: Put some music on and have a bubble dance party! Have a set space where the children can dance. A piece of carpet or a masking tape square on the floor works well. Try not to bump into each other!
14. Turn taking, Teamwork and Problem Solving
Bubble Hula Hoop: One child holds a hula-hoop in the air and the other child must blow the bubble through the circle! Both children must work together to score a goal! You can make this game more difficult by playing on a windy day or with a fan in the room.
15. Sharing and Turn taking
Bubble Share: Provide one bubble blower between children. Stay present to help your child navigate the rules of sharing and taking turns.
16. Comprehension Development
Bubble Search: Hide the bubble blower around the house. Give your child clues to find it by describing the function of the object it is in or next to. For example ‘It is in something that keeps our food cold’ or ‘it’s where you sleep!’
17. Learning Pronouns and People’s Names
Bubble Tag: Who can you blow a bubble to? You get extra points for popping the bubble on them! To Dad or Mum? To me or you? Is it your turn or my turn? Is it her turn or his turn?
18. Communicating by Requesting an Action/Item or Asking for Help
Bubble Ask: Bubbles is a perfect toy to encourage your child to request or ask for help. Try any of the following tricks to encourage communication.
1. Blow some bubbles, put the lid back on and WAIT.
2. Put the bubble blower in sight but out of reach (i.e. up on the kitchen bench).
3. Put the lid on very tightly and then hand the bubble blower to your child. WAIT.
4. Take a deep breath as if you are about to blow the bubbles and WAIT.
5. Say ‘Ready, Set, Go!’ when you blow the bubbles. On the next turn, say ‘Ready, Set…’ and WAIT.
Remember the WAIT until your child communicates with you. This could be by vocalising, making eye contact, reaching towards the bubbles, signing, hand leading, putting the bubbles in your hand, saying a word or a whole sentence!
19. Understanding and Using Describing Words
Bubble Talk: Invest in a set of bubble blowers that look different. They might differ by colour, size or shape of the bubble blower. Talk about what the bubbles look like and where the bubbles are floating to! Are the bubbles floating up or down? Are they big bubbles or little bubbles?
If your child is learning more difficult describing words, talk about and demonstrate the following concepts: wet/dry, fast/slow, full/empty and clean/dirty.
20. Learning Body Parts
Bubble Bath Time: Blow bubbles during bath time onto your little one’s body, and name the body parts that they land on together. Bubbles will sit longer on wet skin before popping, so bath-time makes the perfect time for learning body parts!
21. Learning to Follow Directions
Bubble Simon Says: Give your child instructions on how to pop the bubbles with each turn. You can clap them, poke them, kick them, pinch them or jump on them! The possibilities are endless! Make the instructions more difficult by giving your child a sequence of movements to follow.
By Alana Noakes
Senior Speech Pathologist
Here’s some of our favourite bubbles: