Any day is a good day for sensory play! Many children love shaving cream and we can certainly see why. All the possible language and learning opportunities during play, make this fantastic foam a favorite among SLPs and teachers as well.
Nouns: shaving cream, table, hands, wipes
Verbs: Need/want, spray, put, draw, write, dip, squeeze, clean, wash, dry
Adjectives: wet, dry, cool, messy, neat, foamy
Since it’s Valentine’s Day, it seems appropriate to talk about the big L word.... LOVE! And also, our other big L word... LANGUAGE! So we thought we would list 10 products SLPs love to play with in language therapy. While each of these items have endless creative uses, we will limit ourselves to one reason we love them because otherwise this post would go on until next Valentine’s Day! Want more ideas? Want to share some of your own? Leave us a comment at the end of the post.
Let’s talk about the classic game, Hi-Ho Cherry-O. From the SLP point of view, it is a fantastic product because you can address many different areas with one board game. Today we’ll briefly discuss all the skills you can target during play. Warning: While one game will not run more than fifteen minutes, we cannot promise that your kiddo will not want to play multiple rounds. So prepare to slot extra time!
Here are the rules in a nutshell: The players select a fruit for game play. The options are cherries, blueberries, oranges, and apples (red, blue, orange, and green). They position their fruits in the tree/bush slots designated on the board. Each player spins when it is their turn. Landing on a number decides how many fruits are picked and placed in your basket. The first player with a full basket wins and yells, “Hi-Ho Cherry-O!” During game play, obstacles may occur. Landing on a
spilled basket means the player must return all their fruits to their slots and start over. After landing on the dog or bird, the player is required to remove two fruits from their basket.
Now let’s get to the important part! We want to highlight all the skills we can target during play:
By keeping the spinner slightly out of reach, you provide your child with a natural opportunity to ask for it. You can model simple phrases or sentences based on your child’s language skills (i.e. “my turn” or “Pass the spinner please!”) Since the game requires manipulating small pieces, your child may also need to request help if they have difficulty with the fine motor aspect of game play.
If your child struggles with this, control the position of the spinner so you can cue them naturally, with fewer verbal reminders. Remember to provide positive reinforcement for appropriate turn taking skills (I.e. “I love how patiently you waited for your turn!”).
If it is their first time playing, after each spin you may need to provide a verbal direction to your child so they know what to do when it is their turn. (i.e. You got a spilled basket. Put all your fruit back in the tree.") Provide positive reinforcement for correctly following directions.
This is best worked on in the beginning of the game when players are selecting their fruit. You can assess your child’s knowledge of colors by providing questions within the conversation (i.e. “I like cherries! So what color fruit should I play with?”).
Fine Motor Skills
Between placing the fruits in the designated slots and removing them from the basket, there are many opportunities for practicing fine motor skills during game play! Encourage your kiddo to ask for help if they are frustrated. They can also watch how you position your hands to manipulate the pieces.
This skill can be repeatedly practiced with each spin! If your child does not know their numbers, point to the spinner and label the value they landed on to reinforce this skill!
Modeling comments during game play is the best way to provide appropriate examples that your child can imitate over time. You can say things like:
Wow! Lucky spin!
Oh no! A spilled basket!
Yay! I’m winning!
Ugh! I have to put some fruit back.
This is fun!
I like this game.
If your kiddo gets particularly frustrated whenever they have an unfavorable spin, model some appropriate coping skills. After you demonstrate some useful phrases, you can ask them to try. Some examples are:
Oh no! A spilled basket is so frustrating!
I thought I was going to win! Oh well, I can take a deep breath!
I have to remember it’s just a game!
Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose.
In our last post we talked about creating a Valentine’s Day sensory bin. We specifically outlined a variety of different items that could be placed in the bin. Today we want to discuss some vocabulary that can be used during this sensory play.
Verbs: look, see, find, dig, move, push, pull, put, help, need/want
Model use of a variety of action words during this activity. Particularly if your child is searching for a specific item, you can model phrases like, “I want help.” to decrease their frustration. If you are not simply exploring the bin and have a purpose behind your play, the word, put, will come in handy. The picture above depicts our task: searching for letters to complete a puzzle. There were plenty of opportunities to discuss the proper location to put a letter. Since many sensory bin activities involve exploring the bin, you can model phrases such as:
I see __________.
Let’s move the grass to find _______.
What did you find? Let’s pull it out!
Push the puzzle piece to make it fit. (If you are doing a puzzle completion task! If not you could still, “Push items around the bin.”).
Adjectives: pink, red, white (any other color words appropriate) shiny, sparkly, bumpy, smooth, pointy.
The specific describing words you model will depend on the contents of your bin. In general, remember that modeling as many adjectives as possible will give your child access to a rich vocabulary. Just try to describe each item you or your child plays with during the bin activity.
Prepositions: in, on, under, behind, over,
Remember that this play is meant to be fun. Many kiddos have a difficult time mastering use of prepositions but can demonstrate understanding of positional words long before they can use them! For this reason you may want to skip questioning your kiddo about the locations of items during play because you don’t want to increase frustration. Instead simply comment on the location of items to reinforce the concept of positional words. (I.e. I see something under the grass. Let’s scoop it out!)
Questions: What, where
During play you can model many different types of questions with other target words, such as:
Remember that if your child is still working towards responding to questions, you can model appropriate answers to your own questions (i.e. Where is the bumpy ball? Oh, here it is! Under the pink grass.)
Most importantly, remember to have fun with it! Your child may want to use the bin in a different way than you had initially planned. That is okay! You can still provide language models and practice use of the target vocabulary above! Check out the pictures we took during play. While the Paw Patrol was not a planned part of this activity, this kiddo was much more engaged in the task when they assisted him in finding letters. If we, as parents, try to control too many aspects of play, our child may lose interest! It’s important to try to be flexible and prepare ourselves mentally for this because often our kiddo does not want to play with something the way we planned.