Besides being an enjoyable sensory activity, finger painting provides many language opportunities for requesting. While this structured activity only took us ten minutes, keep in mind your child may want to take longer and really get into the process, creating some freestyle art or additional projects.
Here is some suggested target vocabulary to be modeled during the task:
Nouns: paper, paint, plates
Pronouns: I, me, you, we
Verbs: mix, pour, squeeze, dip, press, push,
Adjectives: more, wet, dry, nice, colorful, bright, pretty, red, green (or any colors of paint available)
1. Obtain a coloring sheet you wish to use. So many are available online! We got ours from twistednoodle.com. We chose an apple because we are still talking about back to school activities, but also because it only required two paint colors which kept the task shorter and less complicated.
2. Model use of verbs as you put the paint on paper plates. The verbs you use will vary based on the type of paint bottle you have. You can say "I am squeezing (or pouring) the paint on the plate for you." We also incorporated use of the word "mix" because we were out of green paint and had to mix some yellow and blue together. Children love mixing different paint colors and observing the results. This could almost be a separate activity!
3. Keep the plates slightly out of reach if possible. This will help your child request "more paint." You can model requests and questions too such as, "What do we need? More paint!" Or "You need some more red!"
4. Remember to use adjectives to describe many things during the activity. You can discuss the wet feeling of the paint or the bright colors used in the picture. Finally, don't forget to compliment your child's art work and provide positive reinforcement so that they want to revisit the activity another day!
Cooking and baking with kiddos is a fun way to spend some family time. We completely understand that while it can be enjoyable, it can also be frustrating and messy for parents. Therefore it isn't an activity that can be done every day. However, that being said, if you can make some time for it once a week, there are many benefits. This post will list vocabulary that could be paired with many baking activities, but specifically refers to muffins. We recommend doing a search for an easy muffin recipe because there are many available on the internet. Some only have three ingredients for those kiddos who have difficulty attending to a task for a long time. The pictures we will be showing are from pumpkin muffins we made yesterday. While we will be discussing vocabulary and language as related to cooking, remember that there are many other useful skills that can be targeted during baking. Children can learn measurement, fractions, sequencing of steps, following directions, safety skills (like not touching the oven), and patience (Waiting for delicious baked treats is hard!) to name a few.
Nouns: names of specific ingredients and tools (i.e. muffin tin, spoons, flour, sugar), oven,
Pronouns: I, me, you, we
Verbs: get, put, push, open, pour, scoop, crack/break, mix, bake, eat,
Adjectives: more, wet, dry, lumpy, smooth, fragrant, delicious, hot, fluffy,
Questions: what, who, where, when
1. Start by having your child place the baking cups into the tin. You can count out the cups together to make sure you have enough first. Before each step, you can model the asking and answering of questions to help your kiddo learn this skill. You can say, "Where do we need to put these cups?" "Oh we put them in the muffin tin!." "What do we need? Flour!" "Who should open the oven? I will! So we can stay safe!." After a few times doing this, your child may be able to answer some of your questions!
2. Next, have your child add the ingredients. Verbally label each ingredient and the action required. (i.e. First, we need flour. Let's scoop the flour and pour it in the bowl.) If they are young or just have difficulty with the motor demands of the task, you can scoop the ingredient and just have them pour it. This minimizes frustration and mess.
3. Once all the ingredients have been added, your child can mix. Children usually like this part! Model how you want them to stir first. Use an extra large bowl because this also minimizes the mess. (Ingredients are less likely to splash out.)
4. Lastly, assist your child in pouring or spooning the mix into the muffin tin.
5. Reinforce safety skills by reminding them that only adults take things in and out of the oven.
6. Remember to use positive reinforcement to encourage your child throughout the process. If they have a good experience during baking, they are more likely to want to revisit the task which can reinforce the learned vocabulary. You can compliment whatever job they do well. (i.e. "I like how carefully you poured out the flour!' "Wow, you mixed that really well! It isn't lumpy anymore!" "You are doing great waiting for the muffins to be done. Waiting is so hard!").
7. Also, try to infuse describing words into each step of the activity. (i.e. When taking the muffins out, you can say "Wow! These are too HOT to eat! We have to wait a little to eat them!" or, While mixing you can say, "Look how smooth the batter is now!")
Communication really "fits" into puzzle play. Depending on how many pieces your particular puzzle has, it can take varying amounts of time to solve.
Remember that If it is too challenging your child may lose interest. If your child has difficulty attending to tasks you probably want to pick a puzzle that can be completed within ten minutes. Be prepared to assist them and remember to have fun together while doing it. If they enjoy completing the puzzle with you, they'll want to revisit the task in the future! You can always work on extending the time and difficulty level of the puzzle as you practice this skill.
Here's a list of target vocabulary for a puzzle task:
Nouns: box, pieces, corner. whatever items are portrayed in the puzzle
Verbs: want, need, help, turn, fit, push, look
Pronouns: I, you, my
Questions: where, what, when
Adjectives: colors, round, pointy, same, more
1. Place the cover to the puzzle box in plain sight so you can refer to it from time to time when you need to see where a piece fits.
2. Teach your child how to start a puzzle by looking for the corners so you have a framework. You can teach that the corners are "pointy" and show them what the edges look like. Ask them to help you find the other corners. You can say "Where are the other pointy pieces?"
3. Find to pieces that fit together and show your child. You can say, "Look they have the same pattern." Or "They fit." Then you can ask "Where are other pieces that fit?" You can infuse more describing words when looking for pieces that go together. (i.e. "A round piece needs to fit here.)
4. Continue to help your child find more pieces and gesture to blank spots on the puzzle to model language. You can say, "We need more pieces." Or "Let's find another piece that fits."
5. If your child has difficulty getting the pieces together you can help them by saying, "We can turn the pieces until they fit." Model twisting and moving pieces to see where they fit so your child can see. It is okay to help as we want to decrease frustration but allow them to work at portions of the puzzle because they can also feel a sense of accomplishment for overcoming a challenge successfully! You can also prompt the to request help from you which is a skill that can transfer to many other activities.
6. Encourage your child throughout this process with positive praise such as, "Great job fitting those pieces together." Or "Wow, you found that?!"
7. Also remember to give positive reinforcement for completing the puzzle. We always want to praise task completion! You can say, "That was a big puzzle! Fantastic work finishing it!" Or "I had fun doing this puzzle with you!"
Nouns: body parts, clothing, accessories, boy, girl
Actions: push, pull, need, want
Locations: on, front, back
Descriptors: silly, big, little
Pronouns: I, my, your
Questions: who, where
Does your child like playing with potato head? Share your silliest potato head story with us in the comments section below!
Another weekend has arrived and so of course, another trip to Target has taken place. The "Bullseye's Plauground" section of the store is filled with amazing educational and therapeutic materials during the back to school season. Everything in this area also ranges from one to three dollars, so it is a cost effective place to stock up on learning tools. Now on to the topic of the day, the most recent purchase of the weekend: "Find it Fast!" This game has many different versions and therefore a variety of ways to teach new words.
Since we couldn't possibly list all the vocabulary combinations that can be used during these games, we will make this post similar to our LEGO post of the past, by talking about all the different ways you can use Find it Fast. The words you select will vary based on the version of the game you purchase. The two pictured above are the Sight Word and Busy People versions. The latter of the two depicts a variety of occupations and is particularly wonderful for vocabulary instruction! Other versions kept in the speech office include: animals and holiday symbols. (There are more categories too!)
1. Find the matching pictures - This is the way the game is intended to be played. Each card has at least one match with any other card in the deck. The actual way to play the game is to put two cards down and see which player can find the match first. When they locate a match provide positive reinforcement to help them feel good about themselves! If the are having difficulty, provide choices so that they can still respond but with some support. Use three fingers to point to pictures on the card. Place two fingers on the same pictures and one on a different one. Ask your kiddo, "which two go together?"
2. Labeling - For some kiddos two cards with all those visuals is a bit too much stimulation and too large a field to search for a specific item. Instead use one card and make this a following directions game. Simply select one thing for them to search for on the card. Label the item to teach names of specific words. If it were the Busy People Find it you would say, "Find the doctor." If it were the animal edition you would say, "Find the tiger." If they can't locate it give them a clue, (i.e. "The tiger is orange with black stripes." "The doctor is wearing a white coat.") While playing this simple following directions game you are also teaching tons of new words with a visual point of reference for the new vocabulary.
3. Modeling use of describing words and teaching about functions - Again you are going to use only one card. Select a picture and do not label it. Instead use adjectives to describe the appearance or function of the target picture to teach your child more descriptive vocabulary. The clues you can give vary greatly depending on the version you are using. Here are some examples broken down by the type of Find it Fast you are using:
Sight Words: Find a word that begins with /s/ and ends with /n/.
Animals: Find a reptile that is long and thin, with no legs.
Busy People: Find someone who keeps other people safe. Find someone who wears a red uniform.
Holiday edition: Find a round decoration people put on their doors.
There are tons of options here, but you can make the clues as challenging as you think your child can handle.
4. Multi-step directions - Practice two step directives first and when your child masters this skill, move on to three step and then four! Keep challenging them to make it fun and interesting. If this is an area they need to improve in, add an extra incentive and assign prizes if they get a certain amount correct! Perhaps correctly following 20 multi-step directives earns a movie, or whatever item is most reinforcing for your kiddo. Examples of some multi-step commands include:
2-step: First point to the tiger and then clap your hands; Find a monkey and then a snake.
3-step: First point to the teacher, and then the doctor. Then give me the card.
If you are looking for a way to unplug with your kiddos and have fun while practicing important skills, then we have a game for you. "What's Missing?" is quick, easy, and targets a range of skills including: receptive language, memory, and vocabulary. Here is how you play:
1. Get a picnic blanket, towel, or just designate a special spot. This space is for placing items.
2. Next, choose some items with your child to place on the blanket. This is a great time to keep the items out of reach and allow for extra requesting. You can also teach the names of some items if they do not know. We chose to select our items today from a play food set since we had a picnic blanket and this particular game was food themed. (Sometimes we do it with cars, trucks, or dinosaurs. Playing with different themes is a great way to teach about categorizing items into different groups.)
3. Once you place the items on the blanket, call your child's attention to each individual object. Tell your child to look at the blanket for a bit so they can remember each piece there. Point to all the objects and verbally label them to ensure your child sees each one!
4. This game can be played with one child or a whole classroom full! During each round, all the players except one close their eyes. This person removes an item from the blanket, and hides it. Once everyone opens their eyes, they try to guess what item is missing. Once the item is identified, it is placed back on the blanket and a new round can begin. Then you take turns and switch roles. This may take some practice at first. You may have to give hints to help your child remember what item went missing. For example, if the answer was "grapes," some hints could be:
- It starts with the letter G.
- It is a fruit.
- It is green.
- They are round.
- Remember that this is supposed to be fun. We want to challenge, but not frustrate. So start with just three items until your child understands the game.
- Praise and encourage your child when they master the skill.
- If your child finds this difficult, pretend to have difficulty on your turn too, so that they understand it takes work to remember what item is missing.
- For nonverbal children, add pictures of each item on the blanket. Then they can select the picture of the item missing so that they can participate. The picture also provides a checklist and they can match the items on the blanket with the pictures to decide what is missing.
We hope you enjoy the game!
Ahhhh the joys of Bullseye's Playground (formerly called the Dollar Spot in Target). This is the glorious section of the store that teachers and therapists particularly enjoy this time of year. There are some amazing educational materials that can be found there for prices ranging from one to three dollars. The fantastic find we are going to discuss today is this foam set.
First of all, the foam provides an excellent sensory experience that is mess free. It is easy to clean up, and it also doesn't dry out so this activity can be revisited again and again. If your child does not like the sticky sensation of the foam, you could use play-doh instead. While this post will focus on all the language opportunities made possible through this task, we should probably mention that occupational therapists would also have a field day with this! This is a wonderful sensory, fine motor activity.
What to do:
1. Allow your child to pick a preferred card. This kit has shapes and numbers but Target also has another kit with letters. When they start this task allow them to choose what they want. Your child may be more motivated to participate if they are selecting the pictures they prefer. Later as they get more proficient at the task, you can give them different cards and allow them to do this independently for practice. (Or you could continue to do this together to work on modeling language! The choice is yours.)
2. Allow your child to choose the color foam they want to use.
3. Before you start, take a few minutes to explore the sensory components of the foam. Have some fun with it! Squeeze the foam. Push your fingers into it. Pull off tiny pieces. Demonstrate how you can pick up smaller pieces with a big bunch of foam because it sticks together. Let your child get comfortable with the texture.
4. Once your done with the sensory play, model how you can fill in the shapes and lines by molding the foam. Complete a card while simultaneously explaining how to mold the foam into different shapes.
5. Hold the foam and let your child continue to request more pieces to fill out the shape.
6. Model requesting assistance if they are having some difficulty.
7. Praise them when they complete an entire shape!
*SLP Tip* Model language at or above your child's current utterance level. If they are currently minimally verbal, model one and two word utterances. If they are using 2-3 word utterances, model slightly longer sentences.
Nouns: foam, card, star, heart, square, rectangle, number, (You can also label various pictures shown on the backs of the number cards for counting purposes)
Verbs: squeeze, push, pull, shape, mold, pick up, give, help,
Adjectives: blue, orange (or whatever colors you are using in your kit), sticky, squishy, tiny, large, round, pointy, straight,
Model useful phrases for requests and comments too!
During this task children can ask for foam and cards. Keeping them slightly out of reach presents an opportunity to request "more." You can also wait to assist your child when they are struggling until they ask for help. (You may have to model a phrase, such as, "I need help," and prompt them to say it in times of frustration.)
Model comments for your child. Here are some suggestions:
I like this foam.
It is sticky.
This feels weird.
This is fun.
Wow! We did it.
I don't like how it feels.
Legos are fun for adults and children alike, but these bricks are more than just a good time! They allow for countless learning opportunities. Unlike our last post, we will refrain from listing the all the vocabulary possibilities because it would take us a year to list all the words one can target during a Lego activity. Instead we are going to highlight some of our favorite skills that can be addressed during a LEGO task. If you have further questions about how to work on a specific skill with your child, comment below and we will expand!
Ten important skills we can teach through LEGO:
1. Counting - So so so many tiny pieces. Mostly a parent's worst nightmare, but lots of opportunities for counting!
2. Sorting - By size, shape, color...
3. Fine motor skills - Don't jump in right away and let your kiddo try to put the pieces together! Commend them for trying even when it gets tough!
4. Following directions - Both visual and verbal!
5. Requesting - Hold back extra pieces or even assistance until it is asked for!
6. Commenting - Model useful phrases to work on commenting. (i.e. "Wow cool!" "I like this!" "This is difficult!").
7. Describing - Model the use of adjectives to help your child learn new vocabulary. (i.e. "This piece is tiny." "Do you see a pointy, black brick?").
8. Organization/Planning a Task - Discuss the appropriate steps with your child. Look over the directions first and lay out the pieces in an organized way so that everything is accessible.
9. Frustration management - Make each building mistake a learning opportunity. So midway through you discover you make a mistake? Model useful phrases like, "This is frustrating!" and explain the value of fixing a problem as opposed to giving up!
10. Questions - Model questions and help your child respond to higher level thinking questions you pose (i.e. "What could we add to make this vehicle drive? We need something to help it roll." "What are the wings used for?").
With all this learning, don't forget to have some fun with your creation afterwards!!!