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.