Welcome to the blog! I am oh so eager to share some of my favorite speechie materials, ideas, tips, and tricks with you!
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Welcome to another speech room tour! This week we’re opening up my toy closet. Let’s dive on in! I’ll discuss how I use a lot of these toys, games, and activities in therapy and link them so you can snag them for yourself!
Trains: These sure are heavily requested, especially by my little boys! I have a simple wooden train track circle with a Thomas that talks. I also have some mini Thomas characters that we use on my Thomas roller coaster track. If you have a train-lover on your caseload, you need these! I use trains to target requesting and power words like “mine,” “go,” “stop,” “up,” and “down.” Sometimes I put articulation cards or objects on top of each train track piece and inch it toward the child as they produce the word.
Play-Doh: To keep things sanitary, each kid that comes to speech with me has their own container of Play-Doh. I write their initials on the lid with permanent marker. We use Play-Doh for smash mats, pretend play (making foods and pretending to eat them or feed them to another toy), action words (push, pull, cut, smash, squish, roll), expanding expressive language, and even articulation (e.g., ” cut the bear,” “cut the fish” for a child working on /k/).
Cars: These are another highly-requested toy by my little guys! I use them to target functional play (rolling cars along table), turn-taking (rolling the car back and forth), core words (go, up, down, fast, slow, in, out), and exclamations (uh-oh, whoa, oh no, boom). One of my favorite things to do with cars is make an ‘articulation parking lot’! I draw parking spaces (lines) on a piece of paper and put a mini object in the space with the child’s target sound. As they drive the car into a spot, they practice the word in the spot or put it in a phrase or sentence. It can be very motivating for a car lover! I also pair cars with my traffic play mat (see below) to work on pretend play!
Wind-Ups: These are my go-to reinforcers while completing standardized tests! Every wind-up toy does a different action, so that keeps it exciting! Other than just working as reinforcers, I use wind-ups to target joint attention (looking back and forth between toy and person), shared enjoyment, expectant looks (I let the wind-up go when they make eye contact with me expectantly), requesting, and action words like ‘go’ and ‘stop.’ These toys are so versatile and I think they deserve a spot in everyone’s speech room!
Jenga: Conversation style! I bought a regular old Jenga game and wrote different prompts on each block with permanent marker! Things like “What’s your favorite food?” and “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I also have some more detailed questions geared toward older kids like “Describe your perfect day from morning to night” and “What would you bring with you to a deserted island and why?” Now that I think about it, maybe I’ll write a post on how to make your own conversation Jenga set with a list of questions to write on!
Holiday: This box is where I store holiday odds-and-ends, like Valentines supplies, gingerbread men cut-outs, and Halloween crafts. Toward the back of the box you may or may not find the resting place of Holly the elf who visits my room each December. Shhhhh!
Animals: This box is chock-full of tiny plastic animals! I’ve collected a lot of them over the years. Some are from Amazon, some are from Hobby Lobby and some are even Barbie toys from my childhood! There’s no limits to the things you can target with animals in speech therapy. Prepositions, adjectives, describing, requesting, pretend play, and expanding expression, just to name a few! We love to hide animals in Easter eggs and sensory bins!
Easter Eggs: Another favorite! Anything is more exciting when it comes out of an egg, am I right?! Eggs are great for holding animal toys, mini objects (from my articulation boxes), tiny articulation cards, and even candy or gummies. We hide eggs all over my room to target asking questions (“Where is it?” or “What’s inside?”), prepositions (“It’s under the table”), requesting (“I want egg”), asking for help to reach (“Help me” or “Pick me up”), and to target speech sounds.
Characters: We all have some little friends that LOVE characters! I’m talking Disney princesses, Paw Patrol characters, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse characters, Marvel characters… The list goes on! These little action figures can work as instant motivation! I use them instead of Little People in my house sometimes, they deliver us articulation cards and objects, they eat the food we pretend to cook, and they even hide around the room!
Lucky Ducks: Anything that moves and makes sounds when you press a button is exciting, right?! These little ducks quack while they swim around in circles when you hit the button. If you’re playing the game the intended way, the kids pick up ducks to look for matching shapes. If I’m playing that way, I target concepts like ‘same’ versus ‘different,’ colors, shapes, and pronouns (e.g., “That shape is mine,” “that shape is yours,” “that shape is mommy’s”). Often, though, I don’t play this game by the rules! I target words like “on” and “off” as the child puts ducks on and takes them off, “go” to request for the ducks to swim, “stop” when they stop, and exclamations like “uh-oh.” Some of my little friends, *really* enjoy watching the ducks swim in circles so this activity can be super motivating (even if we’re not playing the intended way)! In searching for the link to give you guys, I saw how expensive this game has become! I wonder if they don’t make it anymore? Not sure that’s it’s worth the $40 price tag it’s currently listed at, but if you’re eager to buy it you can find it below.
Traffic Play Mat: When you put all of the interlocking pieces together, you form a giant city! Kids love to drive their cars around the city. It’s great for targeting functional play, answering “where” questions (e.g., “Where do you go to learn?” and have the kid drive the car to school), and expanding expressive language!
Ned’s Head: This one is my FAVORITE! Ned is a pop-up head with holes in his ears and mouth. To set-up put all of the GROSS objects inside of him– a spider, a frog, stinky cheese, a tooth, an old lollipop… Yuck! When it’s your turn, you pick a card then reach in Ned’s Head to try to find the item. No peeking! For extra fun, set a timer! This game is great for targeting requesting, commenting, expanding language, describing, inferencing, and more! Sometimes I mix mini articulation objects with the gross objects in his head to work on specific speech sounds. I absolutely LOVE this game!!!
Let’s Go Fishin’: This classic game is an excellent reinforcer. It’s also great for turn-taking and speech sound practice (“I got red” for a child working on /g/ or putting a fish on top of each articulation card they practice). Sometimes little hands have trouble with coordination so I let them catch fish with their finger! They think it’s so funny when we dramatically say “ouch!” when the fish “bites” them!
Seek-A-Boo: This activity is fun for little ones! Each round card had a common object/basic vocabulary word on one side. I typically flip all the cards over (so the logo is showing) and place them all over the floor in my room. We target labeling, answering “wh-” questions, describing, expanding expressive language, and following directions with this little game!
Barbecue Party: Another fun one, especially for older kids! Take turns placing foods on top of the grill with the tongs. You have to be careful, because if you press on the grill too hard it will pop and food flies everywhere! You can target prepositions (on, off), following directions, describing (all of the different foods), or articulation (“broccoli go on,” “fish go on” for a child working on /g/). This is an excellent reinforcer, too! It’s highly requested in my room!
Don’t Break the Ice: As I type this, I just finished playing this game with one of my 3 year-olds! He earned knocking out one ice cube for every word he practiced 5 times. We flew through the game and got so many productions! Sometimes I place mini articulation objects on top of the ice cubes and have the child practice the words on the ice cubes they want to hit! It’s a good reinforcer in general! I also found this cute Paw Patrol version!
Crocodile Dentist: I just adore Crocodile Dentist! There are countless ways to incorporate this guy into sessions. You can target turn taking, requesting, prepositions (in, out, on, off), or use as a reinforcer. My favorite thing to target with this game is articulation! I put mini objects with the child’s sound in the crocodile’s mouth. Each time the child produces the word correctly (or puts it in a phrase or a sentence) they can push down one tooth. You never know when it’s going to happen, but the crocodile chomps down on your finger– which always leads to giggles! This game is a definite must-have!
Jumping Jack: Another one of those don’t-know-when-it’s-gonna-happen games! Pull carrots out of the bunny’s hill. One random carrot will make the bunny hop super high! This game is good for prepositions (in, out), following directions, commenting and exclamations, and as a reinforcer.
Dragon Snacks: This game has my heart! So much so, that I made a blog post completely dedicated to it! We turn the lights off while we play so we can see the dragon’s light-up belly more clearly. Take turns waving your hand in front of the dragon’s nose. His belly will magically light up, revealing all of the treasures hiding inside. Remember where they are, because his nose will light up either red, yellow, green, or blue, and that’s the color treasure you’ll try to pull out! I use Dragon Snacks to target requesting, color concepts, articulation (I give the dragon a name that starts with their speech sound!), and power words like “open,” “in,” “out,” and “more.” Turning the lights off combined with a light-up dragon make for a magical session every time!
Yeti in My Spaghetti: Kids always seem to be excited about this one. I think it’s on a lot of commercials– haha! Place the spaghetti noodles across the bowl and lay the monster on top. Take turns gently pulling the noodles out and try not to let him fall into the bowl! With this game, we target turn taking, speech sounds (add mini articulation objects into the bowl after you practice them, before you pull out your noodle) but I mostly just use it as a reinforcer. It’s not my personal favorite, but hey, if the kids like it I’m on board!
There you have it! A deep dive into my toy closet! Which of them do you have and LOVE?! What’s on your wish list?!
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