Simple wind-up walking toys can often be found in the dollar section of Target or wherever small toys and party favors are sold. The repetitive nature of these toys allow for plenty of practice with the target vocabulary. Children are also often motivated to play with them. After playing for a little while, you may WIND UP (Wink, wink) surprised by all the utterances your child produces during this task.
Materials: Wind-up toy
Nouns: toy, name of toy (i.e. vampire)
Pronouns: I, you, he/she (depending on gender of toy), it, my, your
Verbs: help, go, turn, stop, walk, do
Adjectives: more, fun, fast, slow
Questions: where, which
1. Start by demonstrating use of the toy by winding it and allowing your child to observe for a moment. If they seem excited, you can model some appropriate comments such as, “Wow,” “I like that!” or “How fun!”
2. There are typically two types of children: those that want to operate the toy themselves and those that are content to let an adult do the winding. Based on which group your kiddo falls into, you can decide how to best help them request. If they want you to turn it, model some phrases like “Turn it please,” or “Do it again.” If your child is at the one word utterance level, you can model single words such as “go,” or “more.” Perhaps your child is in the other group. If they want to wind the toy themselves, this may be a fine motor challenge. You can model requests for “help” if assistance is required. If not, you can alternate winding with them to allow an opportunity to request, “my turn.”
3. Many pronouns can be modeled during this task. Children often understand pronouns but develop the ability to use them appropriately later. Children with ASD typically struggle with understanding and using pronouns. Since we do not want to increase frustration, it is best to consistently model the proper use of the pronouns. If your child uses them incorrectly, do not go out of your way to correct it. Instead just rephrase their utterance using the pronouns correctly. For example, pretend your child said, “Him walking.” Simply respond by saying, “Yes! He is walking.” Some other phrases with pronouns you could model during this task include: my turn, your turn, You do it, Turn it again, I will turn it, I need help.
4. Use adjectives such as fast, or slow, to describe the movement of the toy. Since this is a repetitive toy, the word “more” is useful for children at the one or two word utterance level. You can help your child request in different ways with phrases such as more play, go more, more turns, more help, more walking, etc. Remember to pause after the toy stops and wait expectantly. This will give your child the cue to use words to get the toy moving again.
5. Many wind up toys are unpredictable in that they change direction while walking. You can model questions related to this topic (i.e. “WHERE is it going?” “WHICH direction will it turn?”).
Most of us have some old magazines around the house. Instead of just collecting dust, they can become valuable tools for useful learning tasks. Here are some of our favorite ideas:
1. Help your child practice their cutting while learning vocabulary. Simply, point out new pictures and ask your kiddo to cut them out. They'll be exposed to new words while practicing fine motor skills. (i.e. Cut out the staircase.)
2. Make a letter collage. Using a notebook or just a blank page, select a specific letter. Have your child flip through the pages, cutting out only items that start with the target letter. (i.e. "Let's cut out things that start with the letter B.)
3. A letter collage isn't the only type of collage you can make! Your child can simply cut pictures of things they like and paste them in a blank notebook.
4. You can also work on sorting items into categories by cutting pictures that go into different groups. Use two separate notebook pages to label the categories (i.e. On this page we will paste foods and on this page we will glue all the animals we find.)
5. Have your child cut out letters to form different words or their names. Write a model on the page (i.e. "Here is your name. I spelled A-N-N. Now you find the same letters. We will cut them out to make your name with different letters.") This can be done with sight words too!
6. You can also cut out an array of different facial features to form silly faces. In the picture below we cut out noses and mouths to put on ghost and pumpkin shapes. But these could be put on any shape or even other faces from the magazines.
Do you use magazines for any fun activities with kiddos? If so. share in our comments! We are always looking for more creative ideas!
This classic game is filled with fun, but it can also be filled with language skills if you play your cards (or hippos) right! Warning: While the set up and clean up for one round only takes 10 minutes, we cannot guarantee that your child won't ask for rematches!
Materials: Hungry Hungry Hippo Game
Nouns: game, hippo(s), marbles
Pronouns: I, me, you, we
Verbs: want, like, play, go eat, look, go, push, count
Adjectives: orange, yellow, blue, green, more, fast. fun, silly
1. Set up the game according to the instructions and assign a colored hippo to each player. You could ask your child which hippo they want. If they do not select a color, you can model this skill by picking one yourself (i.e. "I want the blue hippo.")
2. Start by explaining the directions if your child has never played. You can say something like, "We push the buttons to get the marbles in the middle. Then we push the levers as fast as we can to help the hippos eat the marbles. If you eat more marbles, you win!" If your child requires simpler directives, just say, "Help the hippos eat like this." and demonstrate operation of the game board.
3. Model use of the target verbs with some phrases such as:
I WANT to play again, I LIKE this game!, Let's start! GO!, LOOK at my hippo EAT!, PUSH faster!, Let's COUNT the marbles.
4. In many of our blog posts, we have been targeting WHAT and WHERE questions, but this game provides many opportunities for WHO questions (i.e. WHO has the blue hippo? WHO has more marbles? WHO won? WHO wants to play again?).
5. Some kiddos have difficulty understanding and using pronouns. Providing extra exaggerated models will help them master this skill. When your modeling pronouns, point to who you are talking about to clarify, if your child seems unsure. (i.e. "I have eight marbles." "YOU won!" "WE can play again!")
6. Besides describing hippo colors, you can model the use of other adjectives during play (i.e. This is FUN! Push FASTER! This game is SILLY!). Or you could pose questions and provide two different choices of describing words such as, "Do you think this game is BORING or FUN?".
We use mosaics in therapy for nearly every season of the year. They are easy and fun tasks! Just get a basic festive shape and fill it in with tiny pieces of paper. Mosaics are glorious language activities because they allow for communication demands to be placed in a very natural way. Since each project requires frequent application of glue and paper, if you keep the materials slightly out of reach, there will be many chances for your kiddo to request “more glue” or “more paper.”
Nouns: pumpkin, paper, glue
Pronouns: I, you, we
Verbs: want, need, help, push, put, glue
Adjectives: more, sticky, nice,
Questions: what, where
1. Cut up small pieces of paper and gather your additional materials. You can print or draw a pumpkin outline to fill in with pieces of paper.
2. Explain the task and model the target vocabulary for your kiddo. You can say something like, “We are going to make a mosaic. We need tiny pieces of paper. We will glue the papers inside the lines.”
3. Model asking for more paper and glue if your child attempts to grab the pieces without verbalizing. If they are having difficulty picking up or placing the papers due to fine motor struggles, demonstrate asking for “help” to reduce frustration.
4. You can also model asking and answering questions such as, “What do we need? More paper!” Or “Where should we put it? Right here!”
5. Use describing words to comment on the process (i.e. “Wow, this glue made my hands so sticky!) You can also compliment the finished product to help your child feel a sense of accomplishment (i.e. This is a really nice pumpkin! You did a great job making it!)
Children love making this spooky skeleton and it allows for TONS of opportunities to practice requesting! It also provides fine motor practice and a bit of a sensory experience since the glue tends to get on your fingertips.