I was volunteering in a children’s Bible class this week and loved sitting back watching someone else manage the lesson. I was assigned to help in a 4 year-old class whose lesson was the story of Jesus’s miracle of feeding the five thousand. The kids gathered around a table and started to make their own picnic basket like the little boy who offered his lunch. They were given five cut outs of loaves of bread, two fish and a red checked table cloth, as the teachers told the kids that in Bible times they didn’t have a zip lock bag so they wrapped their food up in the cloth.
It was fun to see how each child had such an individual approach to the craft. They were given a cut off brown paper bag with a pipe cleaner for the handle, lots of glittery fish stickers for decoration, a heart with their verse on it, and the food contents. As they progressed, some completely covered the bag with stickers, others just along the edge, and some started to plan their picnic, One little boy started gluing all his food onto the tablecloth and then added lots of glittery fish stickers. After completing his basket, he got up from the table and announced “I’m going on a picnic!”
I love to see parents evolve into great play partners for their children. Part of the therapy I do with kids is to educate their parents on how to be involved in building their child’s language.
Today I was working with a 2 1/2 year-old who is working on expanding his language and pretend play skills. He really enjoys the Fisher Price Sarah Lynn Camping Adventure–as do most kids so his mom was looking into ordering it. She ran across my review that I had posted on Amazon and was commenting on how helpful it was. I discussed the importance of letting your child be the director of play, while you are the producer. As the parent, you set out inviting toys and props to get your child’s imagination going and prompt a story. This mom said it changed how she played with her child all weekend. She would ask her child, “Where are they going?” or “What should they do now?” as he was moving his little people and vehicles around. When there was a lull in the action, she might give a suggestion, but then hung back again and followed his lead.
Actually it is a lot more fun to sit back and watch your child’s imagination take over. Kids think of things that we don’t. I was just playing with a two year-old with a companion Fisher Price set called the “Fairy Treehouse.” This little girl decided that the fairy should sleep in the barn with the unicorn and share his apples. Then her fairy stood in the trees, supervising the unicorn as he went for a swing. Let your child do the work because that is how she learns.
This “delicious game of mice and dice” keeps kids on their toes as they try to hang on to their mice–as they move from person to person or even into the cat’s bowl. With clear picture directions on the dice, a preschooler learns to pass to the left, take advantage of a snoozing cat and keep her mouse, feed the kitty or steal a mouse from the cat’s bowl. If you’re the last one to be holding on to your mice at the end of the game, you win! A great starter game to teach kids to take turns and follow directions, “Feed the Kitty” makes holding mice fun. Besides, somehow the cat and mouse competition tends to take the pressure off of who wins.
Simple enough for preschoolers to play, a speech therapist can use this game to reinforce goals a child is working on. Say a few sounds, or repeat a few sentences and take a turn to keep up interest and advance language.
Sherry Artemenko, MA-CCC, is a speech-language pathologist with more than 35 years experience and founder of Playonwords.com. The opinions expressed in this review are solely those of the author. “Feed the Kitty” was provided for review by Gamewright.
A perfect first friend, Dolly features wild, stringy, soft pigtails, long fuzzy legs with pink, shiny satin shoes, and a cheerful face for baby to explore. Her hair, hands and legs are easy to grasp for little ones looking to teethe on something or just hold and shake. Rattle her body or squeeze Dolly’s legs to get a squeak–giving multiple sensory experiences. Pop her heart out of the pocket or hide it for a peek-a-boo game. The little ring on her back insure an easy clip on ride in the stroller or car seat. Be sure to talk to Dolly or describe her features to build your baby’s language skills.
Sherry Artemenko, MA-CCC, is a speech-language pathologist with more than 35 years experience and founder of Playonwords.com. The opinions expressed in this review are solely those of the author. “Squeaky Legs Dolly” was provided for review by International Playthings.
Let’s face it. Kids love construction trucks–they’re attracted to dirt and earth moving vehicles of all sizes. I wanted to share some of my favorite construction toys with you if you are looking for good, flexible, fun toys to set up a scenario to encourage language development. Therapists can use these toys to build language lessons as children are interested in this theme.
I recently discovered “WOW” toys and their set of construction vehicles. Durable for hard kids’ play, and running on kid power–no batteries– these vehicles have people to get the action going. Designed for the toddler set and up, little ones just push to get these trucks going. The newest addition to their fleet, “Mix ‘n’ Fix Mike,” is the cement truck whose friction motor rotates the cement drum, complete with swirly cement design and added realistic sounds. A detachable barrier can keep the construction spot safe or be stored on the back of the truck. “Dexter the Digger” and “Dudley Dump Truck” add to the building adventure with digging and dumping action.
Sherry Artemenko, MA-CCC, is a speech-language pathologist with more than 35 years experience and founder of Playonwords.com. The opinions expressed in this review are solely those of the author. “Mix ‘n’ Mike” was provided for review by Ravensberger toys.
It’s no wonder that Gotz dolls is celebrating its 60th anniversary–continuing to create dolls like precious Muffin who perfectly cradles into a preschoolers arms for hours of huggable pretend play. A new addition to the family of Gotz dolls, this 13″ Muffin baby became the object of affection for preschool girls. Her hand painted face, baby bald head, and moving eyelashes say sweetness all over. Little girls cradled her in their arms and took off with pretend play, tending to her infant needs. Her bean bag body conforms to hugs while her hard hands and feet make outfit changes easier for little hands. This baby is void of all the bells and whistles common to the new generation of dolls, leaving the direction of play up to the child who is in charge. Little girls fed her, took her temperature and brought bandages for her skinned knee during playtime. Shouldn’t the mom be in charge anyway?
Sherry Artemenko, MA-CCC, is a speech-language pathologist with more than 35 years experience and founder of Playonwords.com. The opinions expressed in this review are solely those of the author. “Muffin Doll” was provided for review by International Playthings.
I love to read books that connect language with art. A Day With No Crayons is a clever story about a little girl who-you guessed it–lost the use of her crayons for the day. This would be a great book for an art teacher to use to introduce colors. Little Liza loved apricot, fuchsia, tickle-me-pink, and screamin’ green. When she ran out of paper, she decided to continue her drawing on the one blank canvas left, the wall. Just like so many kids who lose themselves in the creative moment, little Liza didn’t realize what she was doing. When Mom snatched up her crayons and put them away for the day, Liza couldn’t imagine a day without them. She managed to create her own palate of colors by squeezing the blue toothpaste, dragging muddy feet on a basketball court, and brushing her grass-stained knees. Suddenly she saw color everywhere. By nighttime, when the crayons were to be returned, Liza had so filled her world with color and pattern that she considered going one more day without crayons.
Use the story for prediction. What will happen when Mom sees the wall? Where will Liza find color without crayons? Take a picture walk before reading the story and describe how she got color on the basketball court or made the camels. Make up fun descriptive words to precede the colors just as Liza did with “laser lemon.” Brainstorm, “Where would you go to find color during your day?” Finally, make collage pictures of a face, dog or other object showing that art can happen without crayons.
During my trip through the Toy Fair I was on the lookout for new baby toys that were stimulating and fun for building language. I look for toys that have a varied parts for baby to explore as well as lots for Mom or Dad to talk about and describe. Many of these stimulating toys can be used by speech therapists who work with the birth-three population to encourage vocalizing, gestures and finally words.
Playskool has introduced a new line of Gloworm products that follow in line with their old favorite toy. But Gloworm has been updated with new sensory features such as rings, a snail teether and crinkle flower to entertain. The light up face attracts babies and keeps their interest as they babble in conversation with their new little playmate. To see my full review go here.
Manhattan Toy has a new line of infant toys along the theme of Chicka Chicka Boom. They are bright, and eye catching, especially the ABC Stacker.
Yookidoo seems to keep producing new winners. Their clip on dolls for infants and toddlers now come in sets of pirates and princesses. Their big eyes invite conversation and attract kids.
I Play’s “My First Doll” comes complete with her bottle, diaper, bib, and teddy bear all to be carried in her bag. Perfect for beginning pretend play and learning language.
“If the Shape Fits eebee,” by eebee’s adventures, is a delightful plush friend with hook on shapes that can be used to encourage language with toddlers and preschoolers. The shapes can be attached most anywhere as you describe location.
Note: Sensory Gloworm is available in stores now, as well as eebee, but the other products will be available later in the year.
“Sensory Gloworm was provided by Playskool. The opinions expressed in this review are solely those of the author.
Watch baby’s face light up when he sees the newest touchy-feely Gloworm. With added sensory activities, this playmate offers a perfect-sized teether snail, a crinkle flower to crunch, and bumpy, clacking rings to soothe your teething child. Gloworm’s lit face attracts babies as they babble up a conversation with its friendly face. One little guy sized up the face and tried to put the whole thing in his mouth! What a compliment to Gloworm. Enjoy the glow only mode or switch on the playful songs or calming lullabies for day or night accompaniment. To build your baby’s language, describe the opportunities for fun as your baby explores Gloworm–“munching on the smooth, yellow snail,” “”slipping the snail into the shiny, green pocket,” or “squeezing the soft, pedaled flower.” Don’t talk down to your baby using overly simple words, but feed him rich vocabulary that will strengthen language skills and eventually influence reading.
Sherry Artemenko, MA-CCC, is a speech-language pathologist with more than 35 years experience and founder of Playonwords.com. The opinions expressed in this review are solely those of the author. “Sensory Gloworm” was provided for review by Playskool.