Container play taken to a whole new level! Put the child in the basket. Yes, we are putting kids in laundry baskets, large Rubbermaid containers, large circular tubs! Why? Because we become friends with our OTs and learn new tricks. Not only are we going to talk laundry baskets we are going to think about containers around your house. Let’s brain storm about some containers you may have at home and how we can use those items to work on language. Some of my best “homemade” ideas come from my Developmental Therapy friends. And really, any of these ideas could overlap into a session with any discipline…I don’t want to leave out the PTs and my friend over at Babies First Fitness.
And why do we need to think about play and movement and having fun? Many times, for my little ones, it is not just about speech. If play skills are delayed, the delays can impact language development too. (This is a great article on play and language.) And, us speech pathologists need help from other disciplines to help your child. Often, the kids I see either have low tone and/or low body awareness. They are movers within their environment and it is more challenging to work on speech which I discussed in Low Tone: It is not just about a speech thing. When you are in a family’s home the infamous cube chair may not always be at your disposal. We need options and the laundry basket fits the bill. The options are endless with this object too!
I was recently in a co-treat session in which we put a pillow in the bottom of a large plastic container and conducted most of our session with the kiddo sitting on that pillow within the container. My thought is that these types of options provide the children a sense of space for their bodies. We rocked the kiddo back and forth while singing Row Row Row Your Boat. Then, and let’s sing the whole ditty just in case you don’t know it… Rock Rock Rock Your Boat, Gently Side to Side, If You See An Alligator Don’t Forget to Hide. Cover your eyes and let out a big roar at the end. Container play within the container play! I love it! I found a few containers in my bag of tricks to share with you. Let me tell you, these are not original ideas from myself.
The coffee can idea with beads coming out was from an amazing Developmental Therapist that I work with. And, on the subject of coffee…This is one of my preferred coffees I can drink and tolerate pretty well. (If you are interested take a gander at my post about reflux and kids with low tone. Kids can “pull” the beads “out” while thinking about their upper extremities. If the child is motivated encourage that child to verbalize “pull” or “out” or maybe one of the colors of the beads. In this remake of another coffee can I have cut a whole and put my colored bears inside. We can put the bears in and use a repetitive word such as “boom” when the bear lands on the bottom.
Why repetitive language with a repetitive task? Because when we create verbal routines (as described in this post) within a play routine we increase the likelihood of a child chiming in with that word or phrase, especially if the child enjoys that activity. Large straws cut into smaller pieces fit nicely into the Parmesan cheese container. And ice cube trays in a speech session? Yes! Kids will love digging their little snacks out of these trays. I learned this trick from an OT because the smallness of the opening promotes that pincer grasp. And, for our kiddos that Overstuff, one or two cheerios per cube holder will decrease the amount in one handful to bring to the child’s mouth.
Back to the basket! I have pushed kids in the basket and if they are a fan, we have created a communication temptation. That being said, let’s have the child sign “more”. Maybe we wait until the child looks at us and then we keep pulling the child. Or, we can say “Ready, Set… and pause! Let’s see if the child can fill in the “Go”. Cover the child while in the basket with a sheet or a blanket. Lift the blanket up and verbalize “Boo.” We are creating another verbal routine within a specific play activity. Start to build that pause in and see if the child looks at you, smiles at you, or vocalizes.
Don’t throw away your next paper towel holder! We can push cars “in the tunnel” while working on location phrases. We can tilt that holder at angle as a ramp for the car to go through. This would be a great activity for PECS and our kids that love cars. Remember, in PECS the child does not necessarily need to know that the picture of the car represents the car. Big pet peeve of mine. In the first phase of PECS we are teaching the child to give something (the picture) to get something (the car).
But wait! There is more! Tape off one end of the paper towel holder and let the child put rocks or any selected objects into the other end. Then, tape off the second end. Many kids love stickers so lets decorate this new instrument with some fun language stickers. And yes, have the child request the stickers. I am a fan of giving my child a choice of two while labeling each choice provided. Why? Because, if you are holding out for that child who appears stubborn to say a word, you might be waiting a long time or you might lose that child’s attention.
By giving two choices you… #1. Label each choice so you are teaching the child the names of the items. It is a teaching moment. #2. You are providing a structured opportunity for the child to possibly imitate a word. Many of the kids that I see are more apt to spontaneously imitate a word vs. say a word when you ask them too. It is like telling the child, if you eat your peas you can have dessert. Chances are that child won’t eat the peas but you will feel bad and give the child the dessert anyways. #3. We want to keep the child engaged and motivated which then paves the way for a positive relationship with the child.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s post. If so, invite a friend to join us on this blogging journey. I am on several social media sites so any shares are greatly appreciated. My first guest blogger will be joining us next month too!