Toy selection… So many toys, options and opinions about toys. Ha! No One Asked Me But… The toy stores are inundated with colors, numbers, shapes and letters. I love finding some good ole simple toys that provide tons of playing options and allow for a variety of learning opportunities. Especially for our concrete thinkers who love toys that are self-explanatory; the toys which provide a definitive way to play with the toy. If your child is not talking, take a gander in the toy box and see what types of functional language options are in there. Barnyard Bingo fits the bill and is one of my all-time favorites! Mr. Potato Head and toy selection as discussed in this blog post will always and forever remain at the top though.
So, why Barnyard Bingo? Well, first off, thank goodness Fisher Price came back with this toy. Not sure why they had to revamp the toy as the first one was perfect as was, but it is the same concept and available online! Otherwise, garage sales and ebay! The original came in a case, so when I told my mom they had discontinued this toy a few years back she found me the case version in pristine shape on ebay. Thanks mom!
What can we do with this toy? For a receptive task, hold up two animals of the same color and ask, “Show me pig”? To increase the complexity of the receptive language task, ask the child to find the “blue pig” or the “green sheep” which is identification with two attributes. Consider hiding the animals about the room and ask the child to look “Under the chair” or “On the table” which teaches the child location phrases. Or, to turn this into an expressive task ask the child to describe where that hidden animal is at (Ask, “Where is the pig?”). Labeling animals ask, “What animal is this?” Labeling colors ask, “What color is this?” For Where questions ask, “Where does the sheep go?” (answer: “In the barn”). To describe sequential steps ask, “What do we do next?” (answer: “open” or “open the door” or “put animals in”).
Do you have the child who displays echolalia? This child may often repeat what you say without comprehending what was said or may not answer the question. Try asking the question and immediately providing the answer. I have had a lot of success with this technique. Basically, you are beating the kiddo to the punch before he speaks.
If we want the kiddo to match we can say, “Put with same”. If the child has difficulty matching, consider putting only one color set of animals in the barn and using one “bingo card” to start with. Then add a second set of animals and card to make the task more difficult when the child has mastered one color.
And, holy cow we talk too much! (Consider reading 1 or both my posts related to providing pauses for our kids… They need them!) Our children with auditory processing challenges; the child whose thinking bubble does not match ours at that given moment; the child who has delayed comprehension skills due to recurrent middle ear infections; these kiddos need short, consistent phrases as I modeled in the above paragraphs. In my experience, Barnyard Bingo is another toy in which the reinforcer is embedded within the toy so we do not need to add a reinforcer.
I dug this picture out of the archives. You younger folks did not have to take pictures, then take the pictures to Walgreens to develop and wait a day or two. Then glue the picture on construction paper and write the name of each underneath. And then, there is lamination of course, and more cutting. Holy Mackeral I do not have time for that these days! Side bar… If you are making visuals for your kids, consider including the written word as well. Why? Because many of our kiddos on the Autism Spectrum are visual learners and like letters. I have seen children who were nonverbal but learning to read as early as 3-4 years. And, it is great for pre-literacy skills for all of our kiddos.
I touched on the use of pictures with our kiddos. Why? Kids that are having breakdowns because they cannot communicate a need or a want may benefit from having some pictures of preferred items to choose from. Lets give these kiddos a means to communicate while working on the verbal piece. And no, this will not hinder your child’s speech and language development. Research shows that the use of pictures enhances communication. Here is a link on the PECS USA website for your reference.
Some of our kiddos may do well with AAC devices too! My best friend is my AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) guru who worked for Dynavox for years. (Cari is the gal I mention in my very first blog post. She shares story after story about kiddos that either learn to communicate via an AAC device, or develop verbal skills through the use of a device. I am hoping she writes a blog post for my readers about her experience and expertise. (Raise your hand if you are in for an AAC post!) Find what works for your kiddo. Many of our kiddos are visual learners and using more than one modality (visual, written, verbal, pictoral) helps the child learn quicker. Lets give our kids a voice!
I would love to hear how you use barnyard bingo with your kiddos! Feel free to comment on the blog. For any of my other blogging peeps, feel free to leave your link on the blog as a comment. Plenty of great information floating around the internet these days and I would love to hear what you are posting about! Besides, I am grateful you took a moment to read this post. By the way, within this post I have linked a few of my previous posts pertinent to this topic and some references so I hope you have a moment to take a gander. There is an email option under each post too if you want to save for later or share with a friend or parent. In future posts we will talk about more of my favorite toys and how to use them with your kiddos!