How Ball Play Enhances Language Development

One of your top 10 favorite toys should be one of the simplest of them all... a ball. Along with some of the other no batteries required toys, a ball is a great way to promote word learning and sound development in the pre-talker, and other gross motor benefits for the older kiddo.

A ball facilitates early social skills, like turn-taking and eye contact. It’s great for word exposure to verbs (throw, roll, pass, bounce), and opposites (up/down, inside/out). Hide the ball behind your back or under a blanket and see if your baby can locate it when it’s out of sight. This theory of “object permanence” is an early cognitive skill, usually developed around 9 months.

Some Target Words & Phrases to use during ball play for Word Learning

Work the verbs:

  • throw, roll, pass, bounce, toss, squeeze, shake, chasebaby reaching for ball

Try out Spatial concepts:

  • up, down, on, inside, under, behind

As your baby grows, have them imitate and repeat simple phrases.


  • Roll it, Throw it
  • Mama gets it, Baby gets it
  • Teddy Bear can throw too


  • Ball up
  • Where is it?
  • It's inside the bag, on the table, under the couch

Teach Possession and Pronouns:

  • Who has it? Mama has it, it's my ball.
  • Your turn, who has it? Baby has it, it's your ball!


  • My turn, Your turn
  • Please, Thank You

Low-tech toys are fantastic for developing play and language skills because they must be manipulated to make them interesting. Remember that its our responsibility as the adult, to make the toy more visually appealing and to engage our child to keep their attention for longer periods of time.