Bubbles are a lot fun for kids of all ages. Gallons of bubble solution (scented and unscented) are readily available at stores along with a wide variety of bubble makers (bubble blowing machines), which can create a bubble wonderland at a touch of a button for kids who enjoy bubbles.
I remember making scented bubbles when I was a kid. I used the flowers and leaves of the hibiscus (known as gumamela in the Philippines) plant. The flowers and leaves are crushed into a pulp resulting in a sticky, slimy substance. A little unscented dish soap, water, and sugar are mixed in to create better bubbles. It was fun and I never thought of bubbles as a learning tool. Until today.
Bubbles Are So Much Fun
And educational too! Here is Matthew's top 10 bubble lessons for babies and toddlers.
1. A no-spill bubble tumbler is a must!
...unless you have bubble solution in a plastic container big enough to dip a badminton racket into. Wave the badminton racket around to produce the bubbles. On a windy day, just let the wind do the work. I learned this from a Parents as Teachers playgroup.
2. Bubbles encourage visual tracking.
Matthew began noticing the bubbles and following them with his eyes when he was around 10 months old. He never reached out for them at that time though.
3. Don't be bashful about getting 'em bubbles!
He's 11 months old in this video of him reaching for the bubbles for the very first time.
4. Bubbles can encourage pointing.
Before Matthew ever used his pointer finger, he used his thumb to point. To make him more aware of his pointer finger, I'd have him put his pointer finger through the little bubble wand hole. It's one of the many pointing activities we do.
5. Learn a couple of beginning speech sounds.
Buh-buh-buh (for bubbles) and puh-puh-puh (for pop) are sounds we emphasize when his speech therapist blows bubbles for Matthew.
6. Signing with bubbles.
Matthew signed "more" for the first time earlier this year because of bubbles. How? We'd blow bubbles, pause, then ask, "Do you want more?" while signing "more". Repetition was key, as well as signing hand over hand with him whenever he'd let me. Other signs we use during our bubble time include all done and please.
7. It's a fun way to learn words.
As with any game, making language a part of play by using words that describe the activity will help increase vocabulary and understanding of some concepts/words. Bubbles, pop, up, down, blow, more, all gone and all done are some words we use when playing with bubbles. Matthew is not saying them yet but he understands them.
8. Blowing bubbles can be a turn-taking game but not with cats.
Matthew has tried to put the bubble wand up to Yuri's (our cat) face when we're blowing bubbles in the kitchen. Yuri backs away, politely refusing his turn at bubble blowing.
9. Naming body parts is fun with bubbles.
Another game to play with bubbles is naming the body part where the bubbles pop. (Matthew is 12 months old in the photo below).
10. Learning to blow his own bubbles.
Can he blow his own bubbles yet? He's been very interested in trying. He dips the bubble wand into the bubble solution and brings it to his slightly rounded mouth (sometimes IN his mouth - yuck!) then acts like he's blowing. It's a start. His speech therapist tells me that blowing his own bubbles or even blowing bubbles away is a good activity to strengthen abdominal muscles for sustained speech and strengthen the tongue and mouth muscles for making other speech sounds.
I look forward to the day when he blows his own bubbles.
About 'Toy Review Tuesday': Every Tuesday, I write about our experience with a toy. This review is not to be construed as an endorsement of the product nor do I intend to put pressure on parents to purchase the toys reviewed. Questions, sharing your own experience, or any other helpful insights are welcome in the comment section.