Wondering what to buy your child this holiday season? The OTG Speechies compiled a list of their favorite toys that can provide a variety of ways to expand speech and language development during play at home! Hear from our expert team on their favorite picks that promote learning and play that are perfect gift ideas for your little ones or other family members. Many of these can be purchased online or locally in some of their favorite stores.
Jessica: My two favorite toys are Mr. and Mrs. Potato head and Pop-Up Pirate.
1. Mr. and Mrs potato head helps kids identify and label body parts on themselves and objects. It helps children understand where body parts our located and can describe what we use them for. (e.g. eyes are for looking, ears are for hearing, etc). You can also put the body parts in the wrong places on purpose which is very silly!
2. Pop-Up Pirate! helps build turn-taking skills with children. Since it is random when the pirate pops, there is no predicting who wins until he pops. It helps kids understand the concepts of winning/losing and helps promote appropriate social skills (e.g. what to say when we win/lose, what to say to others when they win/lose, etc.). Additionally, kids are able to label and count the colored swards they put inside the barrel.
Shari: Two of my favorite toys are baby dolls and echo-microphones.
1. Baby dolls encourage children to act out familiar routines and engage in pretend play, and both boys and girls love to play with them! Baby dolls often come with accessories like clothing, brushes, strollers, bottles, etc. but even if they don’t, use familiar toys and items from around your home to facilitate pretend play.
2. Echo-microphones are so fun and so affordable! Echo-mics amplify your voice when you speak into them without being too loud. Kids love to sing and talk into them and just be silly. You can find them at stores like Walmart and Target, or online through Amazon.
Kylee: My favorite toys to encourage language are Interactive books (lift the flap books) and farm houses/farm toys. These items are usually very inexpensive (especially if you buy them used) yet great tools to encourage your child to use language.
1. Lift the flap books are a great way to get your child interested in books and keep them engaged while reading. Reading with your child is a great way to increase your child’s language skills. Interactive books help your child to understand cause and effect concepts (e.g. opening a flap reveals a picture) and are great reinforcers for when your child does use language. Books are also a great way to work on pointing and increasing your child’s vocabulary. My favorite lift the flap books are “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle, and “Where’s Spot?” by Eric Hill
2. Farm houses/farm toys are another great and simple toy that encourage pretend play and language in children. Examples of pretend play that can be targeted are: making the animals eat/drink, putting them to bed, and making animal sounds. You can also introduce location words (e.g. putting the pig on top of the house, or inside the farm) and even fact based yes/no questions (e.g. is this a pig?).
Maegan: Two of my favorite toys for promoting speech and language learning are Pop the Pig and Play-Doh.
1. Pop the Pig is an interactive game that every child loves (for ages 4 and up due to the presence of small toy parts). Roll the die to see what color hamburger you should choose, look at the number on the back of the hamburger, and then feed and pop the pig’s head until his belt pops off! Pop the Pig promotes turn-taking, color identifying and labeling, counting, preposition understanding and labeling (just place or label the hamburgers around the pig before a turn) and verb use to describe actions (e.g., “I am feeding the pig, I am popping the pig”). If your child is working on speech sounds you can also have him/her practice speech sounds in words, phrases or sentences before each turn. You can buy Pop the Pig online or find it at your nearest Target or Walmart.
2. Play-Doh is a wonderful hands-on toy that children of all ages (2 and up) enjoy. Play-Doh is great to work on direction following, describing actions (e.g., “I am rolling, cutting, squishing, etc.”), answering “what” questions to label what animal or object was made, preposition labeling and turn-taking with shared use of Play-Doh utensils. There are a plethora of Play-Doh store and food kits too, which add a layer of imaginative, pretend play. Additionally, Play-Doh can be helpful in talking about and identifying your child’s smooth and bumpy speech if he/she stutters. Besides being fun and versatile, Play-Doh is also inexpensive and can almost always be found on sale at HomeGoods, TJMaxx or Marshalls.
Amanda: My two favorite toys are the Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? book and the Just Like Home pretend microwave with foods.
1. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Book: The repetition of language in the Brown Bear book makes it easy for kids to sing along with me (yes, you can sing it instead of reading which makes it fun for kids!) and they can fill in the words as they become more familiar with the book. It's also great for learning basic animal vocabulary and colors. I use a magnet board and magnet pictures I found online and made to increase the interaction as we read.
2. The Just Like Home Pretend Microwave is always a hit with kids because it simulates a real microwave at home. You can push the buttons and watch the food go around inside as it “cooks” it. It's great for having kids make requests “I want + food item” and sequencing steps to cook the food. You can find it on Amazon!
Pam: Some of my favorite toys are dress up costumes and puppets.
1. Dress-up costumes are great for targeting pretend play skills, building vocabulary within a theme (e.g., firefighters, princesses, etc.), and can be used for social role-playing. WH questions can also be incorporated in play, such asking a child what they are wearing, who they are pretending to be, etc. Post-Halloween sales are a great time to find fun costumes and accessories.
2. Puppets are fun and engaging! They can be incorporated into any language activity and are sure to grab your child’s attention. They can be used to encourage interaction skills such as joint attention in a peek-a-boo game. You can model spatial concepts in a game of hide-and-seek by moving the puppet around the room and asking where the puppet is hiding. Also, puppets can make doing flashcards an exciting and silly activity by having your child feed the puppet a card after each turn.
Vanessa: Two of my favorite toys are Food Play Sets and a Doctor Kit.
1. Food play sets are one of my favorite toys to use in language building activities and to promote play skills. You can target food-related vocabulary and understanding and use of action words, such as “cut, roll, eat, slice, drink” etc. Melissa and Doug have a few great wooden sets that are fun and durable. They can be found at any big chain store, but I’ve always found the best prices at Marshalls/Ross/TJMaxx/Homegoods.
2. Doctor Kits are a great toy to practice pretend play skills, target functional vocabulary, and even get kids familiar with doctor visit routines to make the the real-life encounters a little less stressful. You can practice taking turns playing the doctor/patient and incorporate body part vocabulary in your game (“Let me check your ears/mouth, etc.).
Written by: The Speech and Language Dept. at Oceanside Therapy Group
Kindergarten is a big step in every child’s life. It’s exciting and possibly the first real experience a child has in a classroom setting. With the new school year fast approaching, many parents may be wondering if their child is ready and how they can help their child be successful in their first year.
Below is a checklist of skills your child should have or should be working on as they enter kindergarten...
What your child should understand:
• Understands ordinal words such as, “first, next, and last”
• Understands time concepts such as, “yesterday, today, and tomorrow”
• Understands spatial concepts such as, “under, in back of, next to, in front of”
• Follows 2-3 step directions in the correct order with qualitative concepts such as, “Pick up your pencil and draw a circle on your paper around something you drink
• Understands most of what is said at home and outside environments
• Recognizes 8 basic colors and shapes
• Recognizes first and last name
• Recognizes some letters
• Sits still and listens to a story
• Pretends to read a book
• Good attendance
Speech and language your child should use:
• Says all speech sounds in words, although it’s okay if mistakes are made on later developing sounds such as L, R, CH, SH, TH
• Says alphabet
• Says days of the week
• Says or shows age
• Sings songs or nursery rhymes
• Counts to at least 10
• Names some letters, numbers and colors
• Uses pronouns such as, “I, me, you, mine, yours, he, she, him, her”
• Answers simple WH questions such as, what, where, when, who, why
• Uses sentences with action words such as, “jump, play” and “get"
• Tells a short story
• Keeps a conversation going
• Talks in different ways depending on the listener and place, such as speaking in shorter sentences to younger children or talking louder outside than inside
Let’s set our kids up for success! If you have any questions or need any suggestions, please reach out to your OTG SLPs.
By: Oceanside Therapy Group's Speech/Language Department
“Four to Five Years.” ASHA, http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/45/. Accessed
25 July 2017.
“Toy in box.”
“My turn ball.”
The examples above are a type of simplified speech known as telegraphic input. It includes nouns and verbs, but deletes other parts of language such as articles (e.g., a, the) and word endings (e.g., -ing, -s, -ed). Some clinicians promote the use of telegraphic input, particularly for children who only use one or two words. Advocates for telegraphic speech argue that it is beneficial for several reasons:
1) It assists children who struggle with processing information accurately because they have a language delay.
2) It focuses children’s attention on specific parts of speech such as noun to verb relationships (e.g., “I jump”).
3) It creates spoken utterances that are easier for children to imitate, especially if they are only producing single words.
In this way, “telegraphic input may help to bridge the one-word and two-word stages of spoken language development for young children with language delays” (Venker and Stronach 2017).
“Push the car.”
“Put the toy in the box.”
“It’s my turn for the ball.”
“The horse is running.”
The examples above are types of grammatical simplified input. It includes shortened phrases that do not break grammatical rules. Shortened phrases typically include simple grammatical features such as articles (e.g., a, an, the) and word endings (e.g., -ed, -ing, -s). Grammatical simplified input is beneficial for several reasons:
1) It assists children’s ability to process language by anticipating upcoming words (e.g., a noun typically follows an article, (e.g., the girl, a dinosaur).
2) The use of grammatical features help children’s ability to learn new words by providing clues (e.g., “-ed” is used for an action that already happened).
3) Not using these grammatical features may negatively impact children’s abilities to accurately use correct grammatical features in their sentences, which is “further penalizing children who have already fallen behind their peers” (Venker and Stronach 2017).
Although there is limited research about telegraphic input versus grammatical simplified input, there is current research that “points to the benefits of using grammatical simplified input” (Venker and Stronach 2017).
A 2014 treatment study by Shelley Bredin-Oja and Mark Fey of the University of Kansas Medical Center found that “providing a telegraphic prompt to imitate does not offer any advantage [as opposed to using grammatical simplified prompting] as an intervention technique” (Venker and Stronach 2017). An observational, meta-analysis study in 2016 found that “more grammatically complex parent utterances were associated with more positive language outcomes in children with developmental delays, particularly those with ASD” (Venker and Stronach 2017).
Why does all this matter? The best way to promote accurate and more complex language use in your child is to model “grammatically correct” language yourself. This will not only benefit your child as he/she builds his/her language, but will assist him/her in understanding accurate grammatical features as he/she learns and grows.
By: Oceanside Therapy Group’s Speech/Language Department
Courtney E. Venker, PhD, CCC-SLP and Sheri T. Stronach, PhD, CCC-SLP. 2017. “When Is Simplified Too Simple?” ASHA Leader. Vol. 2. I'm No. 1. January 2017. 44-47.
Background noise such as the TV, radio, and people talking can negatively impact how your child learns new words at an early age.
A new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that children ages 22-30 months old were able to better learn words when they were exposed to language in a quiet environment.
This study looked at three experiments. The first two experiments measured toddlers’ success in recognizing unfamiliar objects. Toddlers listened to sentences read aloud that included the names of unfamiliar objects in settings with quiet and loud background noise. Only the participants who were exposed to the quieter background noise setting were able to learn the words. The third experiment involved researchers presenting two new words through sentences. The sentences were read aloud in a quiet environment and also in the same louder background environment used in the first two experiments. The toddlers were only able to learn the words they heard in the quiet environment. “Hearing new words in fluent speech without a lot of background noise before trying to learn what objects the new words correspond to may help very young children master new vocabulary” (The ASHA Leader, October 2016).
Research shows that loud background noise can negatively affect your child’s language development. Encouraging language development and growth for your child can be as simple as turning the noise down and turning your voice up. As parents/caregivers living in a fast-paced, multi-tasking driven world, we need to make sure we slow down and create intentional learning environments filled with rich language input. Here are some practical ways you can apply this in your home:
1. Model simple short words and phrases (e.g., “Car. My car. Where is the car?”). As your child grows in their utterance length from 1 to 2 to 3 words, continue to add words to his/her utterance to teach new words, phrases, and sentences.
2. Set aside an allotted time per day to play with your child. Turn the TV and devices volume down or off to limit distractions. Play at eye level with your child.
3. Hold a toy or object next to your face when you label it for your child. This encourages your child to look at your mouth when you talk, which helps oral motor development to accurately produce words.
4. Add words to your child’s gestures. If your child reaches or points for an object, hand it to him/her while saying the word. Over time, try pausing before adding words to your child’s gesture to allow time for your child to try to say the word him/herself.
5. Praise ALL early attempts/verbalizations/sounds as words, even if they are hard to understand.
6. Try to avoid anticipating your child’s every need by delaying giving your child what he/she wants until they attempt to verbally request it him/herself. Gestures and signs also count as attempts!
Please consult your speech-language pathologist for any further information or questions you may have. We hope this was helpful!
Written by: The Oceanside Therapy Group Speech Department
Source: Blum, Haley, ed. "Background Noise May Hurt Toddlers’ Ability to Learn Words." ASHA Leader Oct. 2016: n. pag. Print.
WHAT IS PROMPT?
PROMPT is an acronym for Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets. The technique is a tactile-kinesthetic approach that uses touch cues to a patient’s articulators (jaw, tongue, lips) to manually guide them through a targeted word, phrase or sentence. The technique develops motor control and the development of proper oral muscular movements, while eliminating unnecessary muscle movements, such as jaw sliding and inadequate lip rounding.
Therapists begin by helping patients produce certain phonemes. A phoneme is the smallest increment of sound in speech. For example, the “d” sound in the word dog is one phoneme, the “o” is another and the “g” is yet another. Each phoneme requires different muscle contractions/retractions and placement/movement of the jaw, lips, tongue, neck and chest to produce. All of these things have to happen with the proper timing and sequence to produce one phoneme correctly. The therapist attempts to “teach” the patient’s muscles to produce a phoneme correctly by stimulating all of these through touch. With the timing and movement of more than 100 muscles involved, you can see why the training is so intense.
PROMPT therapy is appropriate for a wide range of patients with communication disorders. The most common patients have motor speech disorders, articulation problems or are non-verbal children. Many patients with aphasia, apraxia/dyspraxia, dysarthria, pervasive development disorders, cerebral palsy, acquired brain injuries and autism spectrum disorders have benefitted from PROMPT therapy. An evaluation by a PROMPT-trained speech therapist is the only way to find out if a patient is appropriate for the therapy.
Some of our therapists are PROMPT trained SLPs and use the PROMPT method. Family resources such as grants are available thru United Healthcare's Childrens Foundation and Small Steps in Speech. Click on the links for more information.
Source: Hayden, Deborah. "What Is PROMPT? - The PROMPT Institute." What Is PROMPT? - The PROMPT Institute. Deborah Hayden, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.
Read more information about possible concerns you may be having with your child's language development at The Hanen Centre website. Learn when to seek help and why taking action early is so important. Additional resources are available through their site as well.