Prep: 5 Minutes / Activity Time: 15 Minutes

Hearing new words can help babies understand the world. Babies learn early that objects can be organized into categories according to likeness. For example, as they begin to learn the words sock, shirt and pajamas, they learn the concept that the words belong to the category of “things I wear.” As babies become older, they begin to learn how to recognize motion events and categorize the “motion” by concept categories. Playing a favorite fill-and-spill “basketball” game can help your baby learn new “motion” concept words by associating new words with the meaning of the motion.

  • a laundry basket, bucket, or bin
  • soft balls, bean bags or small stuffed toys

Step 1: Gather a laundry basket and a few soft balls or toys. Place your baby in a sitting position on the floor in front of the basket. As your baby becomes steadier on her feet, you can help your baby stand in front of the basket.

Step 2: Encourage your baby to toss the soft toy or ball toward the basket as you verbalize the action. Say, “Toss the ball into the basket.”

Step 3: Comment on the location of where the ball landed. For example, you might say, “ Wonderful! The ball is in the basket!” or “The ball is in front of the basket!”

Step 4: The objective of this game is for your baby to hear and associate the motion of the object with new concept words. You can help your baby learn these associations and new words by using different words like in front of, behind, in back, next to, inside and outside.

Step 5: Your baby will love the action of throwing or tossing soft objects or balls, retrieving them, and hearing you respond to her actions with your exciting words! She is learning in a fun way through exposure.