It has been awhile since we had a toys and tips post. In the winter months it can be harder to get kids moving. I am a fan of a little movement in some of my sessions and the stomp rocket fits the bill. If you are wondering why…let’s talk about the stomp rocket and verbal routines!
When you “stomp” the rocket it goes flying in the air. Who wants to chase the rocket? Nine times out of ten it is the child that is thrilled to run after the rocket. Why?! So we can do it all over again!
This is the perfect opportunity to incorporate what I like to call verbal routines. (Here is another post regarding verbal routines)
. Once the child knows what happens with the toy he or she is typically motivated to participate. After all, we need motivation to perform tasks we don’t want to do or that are hard for us. Who wants to work out every morning? Personally, I don’t roll out of bed with excitement. But, once I am up I build in that work out regularly because I feel better when I do. My clothes fit better. Same goes for the child. Do not ask a child to say “more” or to hand a picture for “more” if they are not motivated by what you have to offer.
That being said, first, I might ask if the child wants “more”. This is an opportunity to elicit a “yes” or a “no”. (And honestly, sometimes we ask too many yes/no questions.
) Mind you if the child has “yes” and “no” down pat I would avoid that question and prompt for “more”. What does prompting look like? Often times I hear verbal prompts repeated several times. In my experience kids can become so prompt dependent that they don’t ever learn the sign independently. Verbal prompts are the hardest prompts to fade. That is why we incorporate physical prompts with the verbal, fade the verbal, and gradually fade the the physical. (Check out my post regarding prompts for further explanation
The child signs more with your help and you hand the rocket to the child. Now what? It’s a great activity for those little hands to figure out how to get the rocket on the tube! (Side note…There is also a mini rocket that you “Squeeze“
to make the rocket fly.) The child might need “help”. Sabotage within the activity or as Barry Prizant describes it… a communicative temptation. We can model, directly teach, or provide prompts to use the sign for “help”, imitate “h” or maybe even the whole word.
The rocket gets placed on the tube so now what? You know the child is all about stomping the rocket with his/her foot, right? I might ask, “Whose turn?” At this time I would take the child’s hand to indicate “me” while verbalizing “me”. It is another opportunity to pair verbal prompts with physical. Which in turn gets faded. If we are working on verbal imitation “me” is a simple consonant vowel combination to work on. Incorporate the visual cue for “m” and then “e”. The sound, word, or expectation depends on where your child is at. We can work to shape from what your child is able to do at that time. The repetition within the verbal routine will help us too! Why? Because the child learns what the expectation is within the activity.
I might then ask, “Where should the rocket fly?” “Up” “Down” “Door” etc. If the child is not pointing yet this is a great opportunity to work on pointing. This is a great handout from the First Words Project
which includes 16 gestures toddlers learn by 16 months and why pointing and other gestures are important. For some of our kids we need to directly teach the skill. By direct teaching, I mean the child may need modeling and “prompts” to learn the new skill. Not all children learn spontaneously from their environment so we need to teach the expectation or skill.
Next, let the child “Stomp” the rocket. Then, do it all over again! For one of my kids, “s” clusters were a challenge so we built in “stomp” and other similar words to work on imitation in a fun manner. Just another thought. The options are endless and this activity is typically a hit.
Thank you for reading my post. In the next couple of months I am two of my PT friends will be sharing their knowledge and expertise. My friend Julie Gowan will be sharing her thoughts on W-sitting and my friend Suzanne Joseph will be sharing about the concept of “flush” and reflux.