Toys and Games Shared on “Teachmetotalk” Podcast today

safe_imageI really enjoyed being a guest on Laura Mize’s Podcast today for “Teachmetotalk” on the topic of “Great Toys From Play On Words.” She is a pediatric speech pathologist who hosts a weekly show highlighting information for parents of children with special needs as well as speech therapists working with the birth-three population. Laura invited me to talk about the value of using toys in sessions with children and at home with parents as well as my recommendations for best toys, games and books for that age range.

Here are the products that I mentioned on today’s show, many of which are PAL Award winners,  with tips on how to use them for language learning. If you have any further questions, feel free to email me:

Age 1 and up:

  • Rubbabu’s “3 D Shape Sorter”
  • Bubbles, especially bottles with the wand attached so you can operate it with one hand such as “Bear Bubbles.”
  • Thinkfun’s toddler games are designed for 18 months and up and can be adapted for younger ages: “Roll ‘n Play”
  • Thinkfun’s “Hello Sunshine”
  • Balls and slides
  • Popper ball machines
  • Hape’s “Mighty Mini Band”
  • Little Tikes “Discover Sounds Tool Box”
  • “Laugh and Learn Learning Piggy Bank” by Fisher Price

Age 2 and up:

  •  Lauri puzzles
  • Ravensburger puzzles-My First Puzzles, Garden animals 2 -piece
  • Playdoh, tubs, oven, cookie cutters
  • Fisher Price little people, vehicles, car wash and gas station.
  • Alex toys ‘ “My 3D Zoo puzzles”
  • Lego duplo sets: grocery store, horse stable, zoo animals
  • Playmobil 123 sets, designed for toddlers, pieces are chunky

3-4  year-olds love games. Here are some wonderful companies who specialize in preschool games and have lots of language learning embedded in them:




Posted in Birth-3 year-olds, Games, Language, play, Strategies to Encourange Language Development, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Toddlers Lead the Play in Speech Therapy

Mr. Potato Head glassesNo matter how much I plan and pack in my therapy bag, I still have to follow the lead in play of the little toddler I am working with. What I thought was a great toy or idea often goes off in a different direction and thankfully entertains and keeps his interest for a productive language session.

Today I had the usual staples and some new finds–Play-doh, Fisher Price little people and vehicles, a car wash and gas station, a slide (great for making balls out of Playdoh and sliding them down for “go,” “down,” “ball” and “uh oh”), Mr Potato Head, and a pull toy and musical station.

Experience shows me that Mr Potato Head never quite gets completely dressed! The toddlers I work with often want to pull the body parts and clothing out of the holes right after we have “pushed” them in. But today took a different turn. Besides wanting to try on the glasses, my little friend found it a lot  more fun to put the pieces in and out of the opening in Mr. Potato Head’s body for storage, than complete him. Of course I went right along and set up a scenario where he had to name the object, and say a number of target words to get what he wanted, “open,” “in,” “out,” “shut,” and “shake!” As long as we can set up a play situation where he thinks he is in charge, but really I am, we are alright!

Posted in Preschool, Speech and Language Delay, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | 1 Comment

PAL Award Winners Offer Back to School Learning on NBC CT TV

PAL winners were featured last week on NBC Connecticut TV as fantastically fun learning products to boost learning at home as kids head back to school. Parents want to know how they can support the learning in the classroom and PAL winners do just that! Toss the flashcards and worksheets and have some family fun while supporting academic skills. Need a little help in writing? Check out the night sky with Educational Insights’ Moonscope and record your observations and comparisons in the companion journal.  Have a little trouble focusing and listening in class? Practice your listening skills while playing HABA’s Loco Lingo games that reward attending to a story, rhyme or riddle.

Visit for all the PAL Winners!

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, 8 years and up, Birth-3 year-olds, Speech and Language Delay, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

Play “That’s It!” by Gamewright to Teach Vocabulary and Categories in Speech Therapy

GAMEWRIGHT-1104-frontIt’s Back to School time and teachers and therapists are looking for that new fun game that is filled with learning potential. Gamewright’s new PAL winner, “That’s It!” really is just that! And portable too for those of us who travel from home to home. It is designed for players age 10 and up and 3 or more people. I have adapted the idea for younger kids as well. I just played a hilarious game with a second grader who is working on word retrieval. This game is perfect as you select a topic such as “an activity that makes you sleepy” and players shout out answers within that category until theirs matches the one on the card. In subsequent rounds, players earn tokens with number values and eventually category cards to win the game. Building vocabulary within a category supports many language goals.

Here is my full review:

If you want just the right party game that can also double as a perfect learning tool for teachers, play “That’s It!” by Gamewright. The tiny box is loaded with 200 topic cards . Draw a card and race to shout out answers until one matches the answer written. Name “something that gets backed up” elicited “sewer” and “plumbing” before “the correct “traffic” answer was given. It is hilarious to hear everyone madly try to guess what s written while they go through their file of words associated with that category. “An activity that makes you sleepy” conjured up “yawning” and “watching TV” before “reading” was named. Several of the categories have qualifiers so players have to dig deeper to think of words on that list–”land animal that can’t walk” or “a place that has uniformed guards” require players to to search their memory for subcategories such as place->that would need security->that would have uniformed guards. A terrific language learning game, “That’s It!” requires searching for vocabulary within categories and requires rapid naming. It is surprisingly funny to see what seems like a simple category can take a long time to arrive at the right answer. “Something you push around” caused a series of “vacuum, lawn mower, broom and wagon” before being stumped over “stroller!” Win a category and collect tokens of random value to add up to determine the winner of that round. This element of luck evens the playing field for different ages to play together.

Available at Gamewright



Posted in 10 and up, Games, Language, Strategies to Encourange Language Development, Word Finding | Leave a comment

Dr. Seuss Books Soon To Be Available as E-Books

imgres-6Last week’s New York Times reported that our beloved Dr. Seuss books will soon be released in e-book format. Generations have enjoyed the likes of “Green Eggs and Ham,” and now parents and educators will be able to download the Dr. Seuss canon.

Interestingly enough, the article reports that although e-books for adult fiction have exploded over the last 5 years, children’s picture books have not followed suit. “Several publishers said e-books represent only 2 to 5 percent of their total picture book sales, a number that has scarcely moved in the last several years.”

Gee, I wonder why? I have heard the argument that e-books are more portable, convenient and even eco-conscious. I get that I could download several picture books onto my tablet for a vacation and not lug a backpack of books. Call me old fashioned but I still prefer to open up a traditional picture book while snuggling with a child and explore each page, handling it and turning the page.

The publisher calls this new move “a companion to print,” as the school market is very interested in digital books.

As long as we keep both options, I will be happy. I always get a lift visiting our children’s library in town when it is teeming with kids enjoying the playscapes and shelves of books, trying one out at a time.

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PAL Winners on NBC CT Today, Building “School” Skills At Home Through Play

photo 1Here are the terrific new toys and games, our latest PAL Award winners, featured on my segment on NBC CT this morning. Kerry-Lee Mayland gave a great interview as usual, getting hands on with all the new products I showcased.

It’s Back to School and parents are asking what they can do at home to reinforce and support the learning in their child’s classroom. Here are some great new products that can do just that:

Disney Sofia the First Magical Tea Time Game by Wonder Forge (3 and up, $20)

  • Don’t we girls all love a tea party!
  • Learning colors, matching, pretend play storytelling and social language of manners
  • Blow on your teacup or squeeze the magical tea pot to change the color in your cup and collect treats–key lime pie, chocolate covered strawberries– from the matching colored fairy headmistresses


See ‘n Spin Alphabet Rack by B Kids (12 months and up, $40)

  • Kids love to spin the alphabet, searching for letters in their name, guessing what object might be pictured on the back–cute illustrations of Bebee and his friends
  • Learning upper and lower case letters associated with words, preparing for reading
  • Portable learning, moms love it’s self contained and no letter blocks to pick up


Loco Lingo Games by HABA ( 3 and up, $12.00)

  • Trio of games that are fantastic for exercising listening skills
  • Players listen intently to stories, rhymes, poems and riddles and want to be the first to grab the object or picture being named.
  • Builds listening skills, inference as kids listen for contextual clues preceding the word, “I went to the sandbox and used a (shovel).” Child said, “I knew that before you even said it!”
  • Children need to focus and listen to access the curriculum in the classroom


Racing Round Stacking Pyramid by Janod (12 months and up, $15.00)

  • let’s not forget our toddlers, any room in the house is their classroom
  • as they love to put things in and out of containers, why not turn them over to stack a story about silly animas driving up the road?
  • Begin learning the language of math (increasingly important as children are required to write out how they got an answer, what worked and what didn’t): numbers, describe the action on the race track, match the puzzle 


Artzooka!  Recycle Sticker Creations by Wooky Entertainment (5 and up, $4.00!!)

  • Fun craft projects that provide a platform for pretend play–collect toilet paper rolls, cans, and plastic bottles, use the 250 stickers to create castles, submarines or pirates
  • Imagination, creative play as kids construct their projects and take off providing sound effects or stories using their props


Nancy B’s Science Club Moonscope and Star Gazer Activity Journal by Educational Insights ( 8 and up., $50)

  • Can magnify the night sky up to 90x to view mountains on the moon or Saturn’s rings
  • One in a series of science tools to get girls interested in science
  • Language learning in recording observations, making comparisons, and creating a writing piece about your activity in the Star Gazer’s Journal–record the differences between a daytime and nighttime moon, describe your thoughts and feelings about seeing Saturn and Jupiter up close, write a poem or song about the night sky



Posted in Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

Great Free CEU Courses at Linguisystems for Speech Therapists

globe_800I bet someone else is like me out there. I usually am pretty organized, plan and am ahead of the game but not so with our CEU requirements.  Somehow three years have sped by and I am scrambling to get 3o hours of continued education before the end of the year.

I have found the free CEU courses at Linguisystems to be outstanding, not only informative but very practical and useful in my therapy.  Recently I completed one that I would like to recommend:, “Attention Disorders” for 2 CEU’s. The course outline is described on their website as follows:

  • Identify the operational definitions for attention and executive functions.
  • Understand the diagnostic criteria, core symptoms, and subtypes of AD/HD.
  • Identify the EF deficits inherent to AD/HD.
  • Discuss the role of the SLP in treating individuals with AD/HD and associated EF deficits.

With AD/HD considered a “chronic, persistent condition,” and children with AD/HD often having concomitant language delays, it is necessary for us to understand how to best work with kids facing attention issues. I especially enjoyed learning about the relationship between AD/HD and Executive Function.

Let’s share other free CEU courses that we have found to be excellent and applicable to our speech therapy sessions.

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Welcome to Kindergarten

Mad paxYesterday was the first day of school on our street and I had a few butterflies myself for some reason. It is always fun to get a fresh start each year and the beginning of school provides that for us all. As I pulled out of my driveway, I was stopped by a flashing light as my neighbor was receiving her kindergartener off the bus. He seemed happy enough but apparently the report was that he had a bit of a “rough morning” with some tears.

I was reminded that every year I charge back to work the first week of school (even though I am in private practice) to find out that the kids are just not quite with it yet. They are using much of their energy to adjust to a new classroom, teacher, classmates and expectations. Why do I have to remind myself of that every year? I’ve heard from more than one parent on how tired and crabby their kids are after their first full days of school. I would be crabby too.

So I want to slow down, expect a little less, have a little more fun those first few sessions while my little friends are adjusting to their new routine. Maybe I need a little time to come back from vacation too!

Posted in Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

Stuttering Foundation Issues Concerns About New Australian Study on Preschool Stuttering

Screen Shot 2013-08-26 at 1.12.40 PMThe non-profit Stuttering Foundation is an excellent resource that provides information and support for parents of children who stutter. It is for that reason that I pay attention to their press releases, responding to various current events or information relating to stuttering.

Today, they issued concerns about a new Australian study on preschooler’s stuttering which they feel is sending a mixed message to parents headlined, “Preschoolers’ Suttering Not Harmful.”  The Stuttering Foundation wrote:

“Headlines heralding ‘Preschoolers’ Stuttering Not Harmful’ send a mixed message to parents – one that could be troublesome for children who stutter. Our biggest concern is that parents will just see this headline, and read no further,” said Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation. “For decades, we have advocated that parents should gather credible information about stuttering and seek early intervention. But these headlines seem to indicate there is little cause for concern or no immediate need to seek help. In many cases, this approach is just not acceptable.”

Fraser also discussed further concerns with the new study. “The biggest problem with the data is that it stops at age four, just when one might expect to see some harmful effects from stuttering. In addition, the study includes only 142 children. It is far too early to interpret the findings because we do not know how many of these children continued to stutter and what effects it had on them and their lives.”

The Stuttering Foundation provides a practical, helpful 16 minute video titled, 7 Tips for Talking with the Child Who Stutters, in which speech-language experts give tips to adults on how they can interact with their preschool age children to promote more fluent speech. For example, “Reduce the pace,” as experts give several practical examples of how parents can slow down the pace of life around their child as well as how to slow down their own speech to model an unhurried model.  It has been my experience that parents relax a bit when armed with accurate information that they can immediately apply to help their child.

“The so-called ‘wait and see’ approach, advocated by some, is an awfully bitter pill for  parents to swallow when they find their child struggling to speak,” Fraser said. “Experience tells us parents want answers immediately. What we are advocating instead is ‘click and see’ – we have a new video available for free that answers many of the most frequently asked questions by parents of preschoolers.

Check out the Stuttering Foundation’s website,, for lots of accurate and helpful information about stuttering.


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New Research on Child Stuttering Says “Wait and See” Approach Can Be Harmful

will with blah blah dollsParents often get alarmed when their preschooler begins to repeat words or even sounds as their language is developing. I know from experience in my family as well as with little clients, that the majority of preschool children grow out of this dysfluent pattern, often after it comes and goes. Purdue University speech experts say that a wait-and-see approach to those preschoolers who don’t grow out of it can set them back academically and socially.

“The recovery rate is high, about 50 percent for 4- and 5-year olds who stutter, and so it is often suggested to wait and see, but that is not always the best approach. Early intervention is critical for those children who will not grow out of stuttering,” says Bridget Walsh, a research scientist and speech-language pathologist with the Purdue Stuttering Project. “We want children to be successful communicators from the start. The longer a child stutters maladaptive speech patterns may become more ingrained and less amenable to treatment. For some children, stuttering can become a severe lifelong disability.”

It is best for parents to consult with a speech language pathologist for a consultation or evaluation if they are concerned that their child stutters. I recently received and email from a parent who carefully described his 3 year-old’s speech pattern, what changes were going on the the family (new baby!) and how long it had been going on. Based on that information, I gave him some information and suggested he check back in a few months. Other times, based on the history of the stuttering, I have recommended an evaluation and therapy, especially if the stuttering starts later than 3 years of age or if the child has been stuttering for 6 months or more.  It is important to look for a therapist who specializes in stuttering therapy and preschoolers!  You can contact ASHA for names in your area.

“When stuttering starts later, children are less likely to grow out of it,” Brown says. “Therapy, both direct and indirect, can help reduce stuttering severity because the brain is still undergoing developmental changes and is adaptive. Therapy services also can help young children deal with fears and frustrations that affect their self-esteem and interactions with their peers.”

Since it is difficult to determine which children will recover from stuttering and which will persist, I am thankful that the Purdue Stuttering Project scientists are studying this and working on a test battery that  speech language pathologists could administer to determine which children would benefit from early treatment. I certainly would welcome this as a valuable tool to best serve kids.

For more information on the Purdue Stuttering Project:t

The above quotes are taken from the following article: Medical News Today




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