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Articulation Therapy, Language Therapy, Little Friends, Toy Reviews and Uses

The Best Toys, Games, and Supplies for Your Pediatric Speech Therapy CFY : Birth to Three and Preschool Edition

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So you’re starting your clinical fellowship – congrats!!!

It is such an exciting time and you have worked so hard for this moment. Let’s set you up for success!! I’ll keep this short and sweet (or at least I will try- in true form, I am a talkative SLP). Here are my top recommendations for toys and games when working with those younger kids. Everything listed below can be used to target a TON of speech and language goals. I personally own every one of these toys and resources unless I state otherwise.

Let’s do this!

 

 

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This is a quick an easy reinforcer that basically EVERY kid loves! I have used this little guy with kids as little as 18 months and as old as 13! I actually use it to target prepositions most of the time. The child places the ball “on” their head, “under” the table, or wherever else I ask- and then we put the ball “in” and make it pop “out”! There are tons of ideas for this guy floating around on instagram and pinterest. You could even stick artic cards to your wall and let them pop to see which one is their next to practice.

Hog Wild is the best brand, in my opinion. I have this unicorn but there’s tons of options! You can find dinosaurs, sharks, monkeys, cows, and even a NARWHAL. What?

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(Bonus points if you use these to create surprise eggs like I describe in this blog post! Even my trickiest kids kids LOVE THEM!)
Wind up toys can be used for describing, all tenses of verbs, colors, identifying, prepositions, joint attention… you name it! They are extremely versatile.
Invest in some ! You can get them on Amazon to make life easier but I have purchased mine at stores like Party City, Michaels, and even the toy toy section of local drug stores (like CVS and Walgreens).

 

 

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Mr. Potato Head is classic and he is still around for a reason- kids love him! Super Spud in particular is a GAME CHANGER! Not only can you work on body parts, colors, senses, requesting, and all sorts of pretend play. You can also target PRONOUNS (which easily gets stale in therapy) since you can make male and female spuds. It’s also a great size difference for teaching basic concepts (or even opposites) like big and small. I’m a fan, to say the least. You will not regret getting this big guy as opposed to just a single smaller Mr. Potato Head.

 

 

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I was conflicted on linking this one but I literally use it every day. Here’s the thing… ball poppers like this have become rare and expensive. Do not spend a ton of money for this or ANY TOY. (I asked for one for Christmas.)

Keep your eyes pealed, ask your friends, look at thrift stores, stalk garage sales…. see if you can find something similar! The balls can be purchased separately so don’t worry about that.

Kids LOVE this. It plays music and pops balls and is just a stinkin’ PARTY. I use it for colors, cause and effect, prepositions, and as like… the ULTIMATE motivator/reward. It is perfect for requesting as well because you can get so many repetitions AND it has an on/off switch. I cannot overstate the beauty and importance of on/off switches when it comes to battery operated toys. Kids will figure out they have to talk to you if they want it to pop. It’s called sabotage and it’s your best friend.

(By the way if no one has told you yet… approximately 50% of your CFY will be trying to figure out how to manage behavior. Having toys that kids really really want will be very helpful when trying to get them to work for you.)

 

 

 

 

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Another classic! You can use Play-Doh for creative play, all sorts of following directions goals, and super bonus points if you get some cookie cutters to make shapes, animals, and more! It can also easily be turned into an articulation / phono activity that way.

You can also use it with smash mats (search on TeachersPayTeachers.com if you don’t know what I’m talking about. I don’t have any in my TpT shop but come say hi anyone if you want to look around!)

 

 

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Get a doll house! I actually own this one but I promise you it was NOT that expensive when I got it. Maybe they don’t make it anymore.  Either way I really love the one pictured above and am so extra that I might just buy it anyway and somehow find room for two dollhouses in my therapy room. Think of all the VERBS and PREPOSITIONS you can target with this little house! The language opportunities are endless- pronouns, object function, inferencing, tons of vocabulary, expanding MLU, and a million more things. Another huge bonus is most of my kids love playing with it- including the boys, which is awesome. It’s relatable to everyday life and you can even do a little bit of a “social story” concept while acting daily activities out together.

 

 

 

In the same vein as the dollhouse… you need a baby doll. With accessories. SO MANY language and functional play opportunities here. My babydoll set it a hodgepodge of little parts I have gathered over time to make up a set very similar to the one above.

 

 

 

While we’re at it you should probably consider a toy barn as well. I don’t own this exact barn but use one very similar to it. It’s wonderful for kids imitating early syllable shapes (CVCV = moo moo, neigh neigh), environmental sounds, and great early vocabulary.

 

 

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Every therapy room needs a toy microwave and play food. I couldn’t find my exact set of food but it’s very similar to the one pictured above- though I wish it had a PUMPKIN!! Too cute and perfect for making a seasonal play “meal” during the holidays! No matter what… make sure the food you purchase is plastic. Your kids WILL try to “eat” it and plastic makes it easier to clean. Another thought is to consider getting velcro food because kids just love cutting things! (General rule of thumb- the more interactive a toy is, the better!)

I love using the microwave for play routines and verbal routines (“it’s cooking!” “ow hot!” “push push open” “it’s ready”). Any type of cooking is great functional play with awesome opportunities to target vocabulary, food categories, following directions, colors, verbs, and concepts like hot/cold. Actually… on that note… take a look at my favorite cooking sets from Melissa & Doug below.

 

 

This baking set is my (and my kids’) FAVORITE. There are some really fun verb opportunities here that don’t come easily and I LOVE the little recipe card. It’s a built-in visual support that you don’t have to make. Priceless. You will get a ton of use out of this.

 

 

 

     

I also like these two cooking/baking sets a lot and own them both. Kids have so much fun decorating cupcakes and it’s perfect for pretend birthday parties! The cookie set is AWESOME for a ton of kg repetitions for all those fronting kiddos. Trust me. You are going to have a ton of kids who front.

 

 

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I LOVE THESE CARS. And so do my kids. They are perfect for colors, prepositions, size concepts, counting, and verbal routines (“up up up” and then knock them “DOWN”). You can also, obviously, make them go VROOM and crash into each other!

I personally own the set pictured above and ADORE it but I recently discovered a set that is community helper themed! It’s equally adorable and has it’s own set of wonderful language opportunities in addition to pretend play opportunities!

 

 

 

   Melissa & Doug See-Inside Alphabet Peg Puzzle     

Puzzles are also a wonderful option. My favorites, and ones I use regularly, are pictured above but there are SO MANY options! Jumbo Knob puzzles are great for those little bitty friends or those with fine motor difficulties but the others are great options for preschool!

I use puzzles mostly for vocabulary and requesting. One cool thing about the alphabet puzzle pictured above is that under each letter is a photo that corresponds to it! A/apple, b/basket and so on. It gives you so much to talk about! You could use it for labeling, identifying, or even having them ask/answer wh questions to earn their puzzle piece.

 

 

I also highly recommend some sort of car ramp! The one I use most often is really old and can’t be found online- but it’s a very similar concept to the one above where the cars flip as they drive down. And while you’re at it maybe even this really cool puppy ramp even though it’s electric and makes noise. They are both fun for kids to watch and easy to get lots of requesting opportunities and early phoneme work.

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A few more requirements are…

balls to bounce, throw, and roll back and forth! And lots of books! And probably a shape sorter! And bubbles, obviously! They are great for requesting, bilabials (pop, blow, bubble) and final consonant deletion (pop, again).

DISCLAIMER- I asked my instagram followers for their top bubble recommendations and results were mixed. Cheap bubbles are hard to blow successfully, pop all over your face, and are ultimately really anticlimactic and not very motivating. Draw your own conclusions, but here are the most recommended : touchable bubbles, no-spill fubbles, pustafix bubble bear

 

 

(Okay we’re almost to the end, I promise. I just really love therapy toys and variety is the spice of life.)

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These are just a few random little items that I find make therapy really fun. They are easy props to spice up a regular ol’ session. You hunt for phonemes or vocabulary around the room with the magnifying glass and/or flash light.

I actually created a really comprehensive product line that was inspired but how much kids LOVE playing with these simple little toys! It’s called my Hide and Find series and it’s a blast… I know I’m biased. It’s really low prep and you can use it to target almost any goal- even in mixed groups! The kids LOVE IT!
You can see both the detectives and the yetis pictured below but more themes are on their way. It is so nice to give your brain a break every once in a while and have therapy planned for you.

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 If you end up loving yeti hunt these are the nets I have.

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It’s also a good idea to have kid scissors, glue, and  crayons on hand! These little people love to create and make things like this picture below!

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(Almost finished. Truly.)

I also have a few boxes of random objects that I pull form ALL the time. One is filled with any sort of small, misplaced toy I can find. (think: “this used to belong to a barbie or dollhouse” or even “I got this in a gumball machine one time”). It’s fun to let the kids just go to town and you all can create your own play!

Another great box to set up that you don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money on, maybe just stop by the dollar store sometime, could be filled with functional objects and basic vocabulary. In particular I’m thinking toothbrush, mirror, hairbrush, cup, spoon, bowl, fork, and the sky is the limit!

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OKAY. DONE.

For a better look at ALL of the materials I use in my therapy room you can go poke around my Amazon recommendations.

I am an Amazon Influencer and many of the links in this blog post are affiliate links. Please know, however, that I either own ALL of these exact toys (and paid for them with my own money or received them as gifts from family), or I use something very similar.

I cannot stress to you enough how HARD it was for me to narrow this down!!! I only listed the things that I find I grab most often and are the most versatile in this blog post. HOWEVER- not every therapists gravitates to the same toys and you never know what will work best for a certain kid. It’s always helpful to have options but over time you will figure out what works best for you and your setting.

That’s what I’ve got for now. Check back with me as I will be uploading a “school age edition” and “supplies” edition soon!

I feel really passionate about supporting young therapists- I even poured my heart into a blog post called “Advice for Your CFY” that is really just everything I wish someone would say to me during my CF.

If you have any more questions, come follow me on Instagram! I am constantly doing Q&A’s and posting therapy ideas. Come say hi!

 

Wishing you all the best!! <3

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Articulation Therapy, Language Therapy, Little Friends, Toy Reviews and Uses

How to Create and Use Surprise Eggs for an Instant and Engaging Speech Therapy Activity

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One of the first toys I put together as a clinical fellow (a copy of something my incredible coworker owns) was a set of surprise eggs. I am not exaggerating when I say the day these little eggs came into my life, my job got easier and my world got happier. I’m talking critter clinic and ball popper levels of GOODNESS here, people. It is instant-therapy and so engaging!

I’m going to walk you through why they are so wonderful to have on-hand, tips on putting together your own set, and how I like to use them. I promise to be brief- we’ve all got stuff to do.

 

WHY THEY ARE AWESOME

Each egg is its own mini activity with a clear beginning and end- which I LOVE. It is enormously helpful for keeping little people’s attention because you can move through it quickly. It also helps reduce behaviors because they soon learn the expectation that the toy is here, and then it’s gone, then another one comes, and that’s just how it is. Even the simple visual of each egg going into an “all done bin” one at a time can be helpful.

Surprise eggs also lend themselves SO EASILY to creating verbal routines (my favorites are below in the “How I Use Them” section). They can also be easily adapted as an activity for infants and preschoolers alike. I have even had some older kids show interest! Depending on what you fill them with, you can use these for just about anyone. Personally, I never change out the objects inside because it would just take too much time, but that would absolutely be an option to adapt them to different goals and age groups.

 

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN

Word to the wise- invest in quality eggs. I purchased my first set from Target around Easter time and they have held up beautifully! When I needed more, I tried to find some cheap ones on Amazon- half of them were cracked and the other half didn’t close properly. So be sure to read reviews closely and remember this is an investment- spend the big bucks. If I ever find some reliable ones online I will link them!

You can fill the eggs with  just about anything! My favorites are wind-up toys (like these!) and other interactive toys you can find at places like Michaels and Party City. Things that light up, bounce, spin, and squish are perfect for providing plenty of language opportunities!

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I also store them in a clear tub that latches so it easy for children to request what color they would like next without making it to easy for it to be a free-for-all. I store most of my toys this way.

 

HOW I USE THEM IN THERAPY

  • Verbal Routines: knock knock knock open, shake shake shake open, telling the toys hi/bye as you take them out/in, and (of course) READY SET GO!!
  • Wh Questions – what is it, what is it doing, what color do you want
  • SO MANY VERBS AND ADJECTIVES AND NOUNS!
  • -Gross Motor Imitation- knocking on the egg, shaking the egg, waving hi/bye to the toys
  • -Functional Play- do we know how to make the tiny car drive? or the little dinosaur eat your hair? (weird, but fun)
  • Joint Attention- optimal opportunities for eye contact and social referencing!
  • Bonus OT Tip- a 2 year old child should be able to open these eggs- if not, a referral is warranted!

 

I am so excited for you to try this activity! I truly have used it almost every day since I made my first set during my CFY years ago. If you make your own- tag me in your picture so I can see! I love hearing from you!

Have FUN, Speechy People!

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Please note: As an Amazon Influencer, I may earn from qualifying purchases. I will only ever link items that I believe whole-heartedly in.
Language Therapy, Little Friends, Toy Reviews and Uses

Great Therapy Toys: The Other Ball Popper

Kids are obsessed with balls. They are just wayyy to fun to resist and this seems to be a universal truth. Perhaps (definitely) this is why most lists for “beginner signs” include the sign for “ball.”

My first love for engaging children with balls is the quintessential ball popper. My kids go crazy for it.

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(hence my loving haiku you can find here)

But a newer, more handsome ball pop has entered my life…. AND YOU CAN TARGET SO MANY GOALS WITH HIM. Let’s discuss.

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So far this little guy (let’s call him Sprinkles), has given even the shyest of my little friends the motivation to speak (or at least try). I have two kiddos on my caseload right now that maybe have said 5 spontaneous words over the course of our treatment thus far. But let me tell you… they were chatting away and imitating left and right for this little guy! One even said his first final consonant… 100% INDEPENDENTLY! It was “boop” and it was adorable. I about fell over I was so happy and proud of his hard work.

Sprinkles has brought much joy and success already this week (and it’s only Tuesday). So here’s a little diddy on how I’ve used this stud so far:

  • For Late Talkers and Severe Artic: We are targeting words like: ball, pop, boop, up, go
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  • For Phonological Processes: pop (of course)
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  • For Artic Kids: We are searching around the clinic for objects that contain our sound and then using them as target practice. If needed, you can always tape some of your artic cards to the walls and use those instead.
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  • For Where Questions and Prepositions: We are shooting Sprinkle’s ball at my door and seeing where it bounces/rolls to. Then we talk about “where” the ball is. “Next to the chair! Under the table! In front of the cabinet!” We are also discussing putting the ball IN sprinkle’s nose and how it is about to pop OUT.
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  • Other Language Ideas: describe the elf, discuss what elves do, is it’s cold or hot where they live, who they help, if they’re big or little, happy or sad, I let each kid name him if they want (or can), the ball is popping/bouncing/rolling

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Sprinkles here has been such a hit, I just might have to invest in a non-seasonal variety.

I mean… look how CUTE!

monkey  penguin  cow  unicorn

 

That is what we’ve come up with so far this week! I would love to hear how you’re using your little ball poppers!

Happy popping, y’all!

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Please Note: As an Amazon Influencer, I may earn from qualifying purchases. I will only share items I believe in whole-heartedly.