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?”).