I wanted to lead with a shout out to one of my high school cronies. She said “I don’t know anything about speech therapy but I will gladly follow your blog. Throw in a high school story and that will even better.” (We will eek one or two in at some point!). So, thank you for following me and to each of you for reading my posts the past 3 months. The toys and tips posts have been a hit so I will include more over the next few months. If you decide to follow my weekly posts be sure to confirm the email from WordPress. That being said, this week I wanted to introduce a favorite of mine… Seekaboo by Mindware. This game/toy is versatile and the language and cognitive possibilities are endless!
Take a gander at the picture below. I took the cookie picture as an example for the post. Who wouldn’t pick cookie?! What do you see? A picture of a “big” cookie and of a “little” cookie. You speech peeps already know where I am going with this. What a great way to work on identification of big vs. little. This skill develops between 2-3 years of age as suggested by ASHA (American Speech Language Hearing Association) in this link on my Pinterest page. One of the many reasons I love this game is that the pictures match exactly. This means that you are working on the big/little concept only. If the cookies were two different completely types of cookies asking the child to find the “big cookie” would be a higher level skill. Tuck that in your noggin when looking for toys and activities for you little ones.
Within the box you will find six different categories including animals, food, shapes, common items and clothes. Awesome! They did a nice job with the vocabulary selection too. I am a picky one when it comes to toy selection and in my opinion this one is pretty good. The pictures are nice, crisp and clean as well as life-like and are “busy” free. Many of the kids I see are easily distracted. When books and pictures have “busyness” in the background or many pictures on one page it can take away from the teaching moment. I have found when working with some of my kids on the autism spectrum or my kids that are constantly on the move, less is more.
To work on receptive vocabulary hold up two different pictures and state, “Point to…” Pause. If the child cannot select the named picture state your command again. Prompt. Remember my favorite prompt is holding the item you are naming slightly closer to the child to increase his success in the beginning. In my experience children tend to pick the item you hold out closer. Then, gradually fade this prompt by bringing the pictures closer together. Grade the prompt.
I would also consider asking the child to point to the picture you think he will choose. If he loves cars, pair the car with the picture of a less known item and state, “Point to the car.” Why? We need to teach the child the skill first. Too many times I see children asked to do a task they do not understand. And, no teaching moments are provided. If your child can identify a picture from a field of 2 consider increasing the field of pictures. Then, place the pictures around the room working on the same skill in the same manner.
And, that is not all! Like I said…the options are endless with Seekaboo. We can use this activity as a matching task too with the expectation of matching picture to picture. Kids typically learn to sort their toys in categories before this skill, but in my experience the kiddos that enjoy pictures learn to match quickly. Once again for my kids on the autism spectrum or with significant language delays I keep my talking brief and consistent. “Match” is often my preferred command during an activity like this. Try to avoid bombarding the child with “Can you find the same?” “Match the cookies”. “Can you find the other cookie?” The child will start hear “wa-wa-wa” from Charlie Brown as we discussed in this post. Keep it simple. Keep it brief. Then, provide that pause. Prompt only as necessary.
The other day, I used this activity with a little one and I said, “Get the banana and put it on the couch.” “Get the cookie and put it on the chair.” Nice! We were working on 2 step related commands and locations. In the past I have also had kids crawl or hop when given the command to provide a little awareness into their bodies during an activity. And remember, OTs and PTs are our friends. So, any tips they have to incorporate movement into a language session let’s use them!
This can also be used as a memory game! Yep, there is still more! For example, set all of the food items out with the pictures facing down. Have the child pick one of the small cards. Then, let the child go turn over one of the bigger pictures. If the child does not find the matching picture then take turns and incorporate “my turn” “your turn”.
For some of my kiddos who are using more words I can work on 2-3 word phrases too. I have also taken turns with kids playing “I see…” Put several of the pictures around the room and state “I see a …” Model the expectation for the child. Then, see if the child follows your lead and imitates you. Around 2 years of age children begin to imitate and to use 2 word phrases and this toy fits the bill again. “big cookie” “little cookie”, etc.
Or, when you have the pictures plotted around the room ask the child, “Where is the cookie?” Model responses such as “On the chair” or “Under the table.” If your child is not intrinsically motivated by my fun Seekaboo game consider incorporating a secret weapon! Yes! A flashlight! Kids love shining that light and many times if they want to hold the flashlight they will use it with the picture/language activity you incorporate from up above.