Looking back over the past decade (or two) the way I conduct therapy is different. The way I look at my kids and their families is different. I think my role as an early intervention therapist has changed. In the clinic setting often times we saw a child for an hour session and then the child went home. Within the home, I may witness a different child. The expectations may be different in both settings. It is neither good or bad, it just is. Within their natural environment part of my role is to consider toys and activities that the family can incorporate into their day using what is in the home or what they may want to purchase. That being said, pretend play does not come spontaneously for some of my kids. With pretend play comes language so it is an important concept to think about.
Last week, I asked several questions about toy selection and the efforts put into making decisions about a toy. It is much the same way with food. For some of our kids, in my opinion we need to think differently about the toys and the food we introduce in order to help that child interact, play and think about that item differently. It is a dance. Learn to dance with your child. It is not always about the toy but about the way you introduce and think about that toy with your child. Same goes with food.
Any who…let’s think about another toy in my toy box. Well, my garage, that is! I have one whole wall lined with shelving that I put up to accommodate my toys I have accumulated over the years. This week we are talking about the Pretend and Play Bakery Set. This set was actually a gift so I cannot take credit for finding it but the kids love it! I love it because there is that within-stimulus reinforcer! Which simply means the toy does something which is motivating so the child’s attention may be longer. And, I can use this with my 3-4 year olds too that I see privately for extended pretend play which means more language opportunities. Check out this article on my Pinterest page regarding the benefits of play.
There is a 3 piece bread set which is squishy and held together with velcro! While it is difficult to cut the kids can still “Pull” the bread apart. Trust me kids love velcro (Did you catch my Toys and Tips post on Velcro food?)! The egg is “cracked” in the middle so our kids can think about using both hands to pull the egg apart. The yolk is a life like rubber egg. (I am a fan of incorporating other skills if possible. Here is a link to bilateral hand skills, why it is important and some other ideas you can include at home.)
What do you do with the egg? You do, what kids see you do in the kitchen and then you ask questions dependent on their goals. For example, I might ask, “Where does the egg go?” with the anticipated response being “In” or “In the bowl.” We could then state, “We need milk. Where does the milk go?” Once again the response, could be “In” or “In the bowl.” Some of our kids benefit from repetition to learn the expected response. Or we could ask, “What do we do with the milk?” Response: “Pour” or “Pour In” or “Pour in the bowl.” Then, I could ask, “What do we do with the spoon?”
(For my parents reading this, I often talk to my families about identifying by function or stating the function of a given item. This is a perfect example of what that means. See if your child can tell you “Stir”, when asked what you do with a spoon. If not, then we may need to think about whether your child understands the concept. Hold up two objects including the spoon, and ask, “Which one do you stir with?”).
And, how fun is this? There is pretend cookie dough that you can “Roll” out once again using both hands. Several action words to think about including “Pour” “Stir” and “Roll” when addressing early vocabulary development. Within the dough are four empty spaces (in the form of shapes) to place the shapes in just like a puzzle! Recently, I was playing with this set and we put the cookies in the oven. The little one imitated me saying “hot” 3 times which is pretty cool considering he is just beginning to imitate sounds. When opening the toy oven we could introduce some of the following vocabulary: “Open” or “Out” or “Cookies out” or “The cookies are hot.” So many options dependent on the learner! Anywho, this toy also comes with a suction cup with a little handle which is how you get the cookies “off” the pan. Kids love this!
If you want to see those language skills come, many times we need to tackle pretend play as well. What is in your toy box?
Thank you for reading this week’s post! Some thoughts I hope my readers can take away from my Toys and Tips series include: A head nod with a verbal affirmation of “yes”; an aha moment of “Oh, I did not think of that.” (I have these all of the time!); “Tracy, did you think of this?” (I am still learning!); and maybe some different ways to think about toys and toy selection. Like I said at the beginning of this post, my job and role as a provider continues to evolve. The expectations may vary whether in the family’s home or the clinic. I hope to be a resource in the process of helping your child.