Thinking back to some of the different things I have done over the years, I have been pretty lucky to be able to have a lot of fun in my work – particularly in sessions!
One thing I love to do, particularly on extremely hot, Australian Summer days, is do sessions outside, preferably near water. And one of my favourite things to use, are water balloons!
I don’t think I have used these since I was a kid. And even then, I don’t remember using them that often. But I was in Woolworths one day, walking past the party items, and thought “That would be an awesome idea!”
I cannot think of one child who did not want to give water balloons a go. I have one who was a little scared, but he was interested and watched me (hiding behind the wall, with his hands covering his ears) as I filled up water balloons and then proceeded to pop them all over his garden (I clearly had a great time!)
They have been an invaluable asset to my little reinforcer kit. And they surpassed their original use as a nice reinforcer for a hot day, to being a part of many different programs I was teaching.
Initially, I used water balloons as reinforcement e.g. “First we have to get all our tokens, then we can do water balloons outside!”
The I started realising there was a whole lot more we could be doing with water balloons.
I introduced waiting to three brothers who all wanted water balloons at once, but there was only one tap to fill it up!
I used it to teach accepting and tolerating change, at a very, very basic level i.e. I would say “What colour balloon do you want?” and whatever he would answer, I would say “Hmmm, nah, what about this colour instead?” and he would happily take it because at that point in time, he didn’t care about the controlling the colour, he just wanted a water balloon!
I used it to teach a brother and sister to follow more complex instructions e.g. “I want you to pop the balloon next to the small, green plant in the garden.”
It is great for even discrimination tasks – colours, attributes (big/little, full/empty, wet/dry).
And of course, requesting/manding! Getting signs/gestures/picture/vocalisations/mands for water balloons is always an exciting thing, especially with kids who are just beginning to learn to request, and then you get the added bonus of fun water balloons once the balloon has been requested for 🙂
Of course, there are a few rules discussed before the use of water balloons. I always check with the parents that it is an OK thing to use with their kids. And then the rule for the kids is once a balloon is popped, pick up all the pieces and put it in the bin, and then you can get a new one.
So even though we have had a mild winter here in Australia, I suggest stocking up on water balloons, because if you are anywhere near me, I’m going to buy out all the local supplies 😉