Does this scene sound familiar? A visiting relative brings your child a present. Clearly, your child is less than thrilled. They demonstrate this fact by making an inappropriate face, walking away from the gift, or worse, saying something like, "No thank you." (Other variations we have heard include, "I don't like this." "Take it back." "Got something else?") It is going to be hard to get your kiddos really enthused over receiving a pair of socks. But like most challenging tasks, practice and preparation can come in handy here! Try this activity to ease some of the parental holiday humiliation.
Materials: Holiday bag or wrapped gift box, array of fake gift items
Some suggested undesirable items:
Suggested desirable items:
clothing item with favorite character
1. Place an item in the holiday wrapping.
2. Before presenting it to your child you can say:
It's the holiday season. People are going to give us presents. Sometimes we will like them. Sometimes we won't like them. Let's practice being kind when we open gifts. When we open gifts, we smile and say, "Thank you." Let's practice opening some presents. They aren't real presents, but we can still pretend. Each time we open them, we'll smile and say,"THANK YOU!"
3. Give your child lots of positive reinforcement whenever they demonstrate the target behavior after opening a gift. This is especially true of the undesirable gifts. Depending on their age and language skills, you may analyze each present and discuss if it is an exciting gift or a boring gift. You may choose to further explain how it is important to say thank you even if you do not like a gift because you are really saying, "Thank you for thinking of me. That was kind."
4. Like any task, practice makes perfect! Doing this several times during the holiday season is a great way to ensure less awkward interactions later in the season.
It is always a good idea to prepare kiddos for Thanksgiving, or other holiday feasts, by exposing them to the foods that will be served beforehand. If children know what to expect, they will react in a more appropriate manner. We were practicing saying "No, thank you" instead of "Yuck" or "Gross" when offered an unfamiliar dish this week. Since we were already on the topic of foods in therapy, we used some Boardmaker symbols and a picnic blanket to introduce a variety of festive tasks to target language skills. But no fancy food symbols are necessary! Parents can reduplicate these lessons by printing out some pictures of Thanksgiving foods or cutting them out of a magazine. Put the pictures on either a picnic blanket or plate and try some of the activities listed below!
Food Group Sort: (Categorization)
Sort all the foods into their respective groups (i.e. vegetables, protein, desserts) and discuss which group has your favorite and least favorite dishes.
What’s Missing? (Memory)
Select three different foods and point out each one to your child. Have them look at the options for a few seconds so they know what is on the plate. Next, have your kiddo close their eyes while you remove an item. See if they can remember what picture went missing. You can increase the number of foods presented if they need more of a challenge.
Food Following Directions (Receptive Language)
Children could always use practice in following directions. For this game, remember to work on their level. Based on what goals they are working towards, decide what sort of commands you want to give. You can use the foods to practice simple one-step directives or complex multi-step commands. Here are some examples:
One-step: Give me the turkey. Put the cranberry sauce on the plate.
Two-step: First get the turkey, and then get the mashed potatoes.
Describe some foods without naming them and see if your child can find the picture you’re talking about. For example, if you were describing corn, you might say, “Find a yellow vegetable that grows on a cob.” How detailed your descriptions are will depend on your child’s language level.
Appetizing Alphabet (Literacy)
If your child is working on building their phonemic awareness, you can practice listening for specific beginning or ending sounds. (i.e. Find a food that begins with the “t” sound. It sounds like ____." Demonstrate the /t/ sound)
In many of our blog posts we provide long lists of target vocabulary and different ideas for how to expand utterances. This isn’t surprising because SLPs tend to be a wordy group of people! But for kiddos who are emerging communicators, focusing intensely on one word can help these children master key communication skills. So today we are talking about a useful core vocabulary word: GO.
For many families, Taco Tuesday is a weekly tradition. Besides quality time together and a delicious meal, there are many other benefits to having a weekly taco night. Structuring your dinner carefully can lead to tons of opportunities to target language skills. Unlike most of our other posts, we will not be allotting a specific amount of time to this task, because Taco Tuesday is not meant to be rushed!
Nouns: Taco, toppings (lettuce, cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, sauce), plate, napkins
Verbs: want, put, eat
Adjectives: delicious/yummy, crunchy, hot, cold, spicy,
Pronouns: I, my, you
Questions: Do you want_________?
Core Vocabulary: more, no, eat, like, help
1. Set up all your ingredients and toppings near each other. The idea is to set up a taco assembly line for your family.
2. Make your tacos first, but make sure your child is paying attention to the process. Narrate your steps as you move from topping to topping. For example, you might say something like, “First we get a tortilla. Then we fill it with turkey.” (or whatever protein you choose) Next, help your child through the process of making their own tacos. First of all, children love preparing their own food. Secondly, if you make each taco for them, they will miss out on the language benefits of discussing each ingredient before adding the item!
3. When they are making their first taco, you can target yes/no responses by asking the question, "Do you want_____?" for each topping. (i.e. "Do you want lettuce?) You can model appropriate yes/no responses if your child gestures or makes a face. (They are still communicating, just not in the mode that is desirable to us! But we can shape their responses into more meaningful verbalizations with modeling! And if you practice this week to week, you will see some improvement through the consistency of the activity!)
4. Be cheap with ingredients. Not because you don’t want to feed your family, but because it allows for extra opportunities to request “more.” So when you give them some cheese, put one tiny shred on the taco. Then you can laugh and say "Is that enough?!? NOOOO!!! We need MORE CHEESE!" If we want them to request, we have to model the expected behavior! You may have to do this with each topping on the first taco. Then as you are making the second taco, pause and wait even if there is an awkward silence to allow your child the opportunity to independently ask for the toppings they want. 5. If your child wants to try independently constructing their tacos, and they become frustrated fitting in the desired ingredients, model requesting HELP to decrease the frustration.
6. If you child has ASD, pronouns can be especially challenging. Model appropriate use of them while you're actually eating dinner. If you play your cards right, you can squeeze in some introduction of describing words too! Here are some examples: "MY taco is crunchy because I put on a lot of lettuce." "This taco is spicy because I used the red sauce. Is YOURS spicy?" "I love tacos! They are delicious! Do YOU?" Just using a few of these statements is good because you do not want the conversation to seem too forced or unnatural.
7. Most importantly,l remember to have fun and just enjoy your family! We all know Tuesdays are just Monday's ugly sister and we need some tacos to help us survive! So do not put too much pressure on yourself! You do not have to use every vocabulary word. Just try to target the ones you can when the opportunity arises. There's always next Tuesday!
When the month of November begins, the word THANKFUL gets thrown around quite a bit. This can be a difficult concept to explain to a child with a language delay. Often using complex language and long explanations can add to the confusion. Here are some SLP suggestions for teaching about gratitude using simple language to help your child grasp the concept.
The visual above provides the most basic information. This is all you need if your child is minimally verbal or speaking using 1-2 word utterances. If you feel they can handle some more complex information, introduce some new vocabulary. You can say:
- In November, we hear words like thankful, or grateful. They mean the same thing. These words all describe a feeling of gratitude. What is gratitude? It is when you feel happy about all the wonderful people and things in your life.
-What are some reasons that people feel thankful? People are grateful for family and friends who they love. There are also places in the world where there are no safe homes or food to eat. So we feel thankful for having a place to live and food to eat. We can also be thankful for being healthy.
- Kids can feel thankful for some of their favorite items, like toys and treats too!
(By interchanging the words thankful and grateful you are teaching that these words have the same meaning!)
If you want to bring this topic up continually, introducing a Thankful Tree is a great way to have a brief daily conversation about gratitude.
!To start, simply get foam or brown construction paper and cut out a tree trunk and branches. Purchase or print out some fall leaves. Each day, every family member selects one leaf. They write one thing they are thankful for and place it on the tree. If your kiddo needs help with this, you can give them some suggestions so they do not become frustrated trying to think of ideas. You can give simple reminders such as "We are thankful for people and things we love." Share pictures of your thankful trees with us as they progress on Instagram! You can find us @louknowswhattodo