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Toy Reviews and Uses

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

Photo Sep 17, 8 26 53 PM

 

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.
Articulation Therapy, Older Friends, Toy Reviews and Uses

Generalization of Articulation: Keep Calm and Carryover

Generalization! It is so exciting. The kid has worked so hard to learn their new sound and you’ve worked so hard to teach it to them. But now we have to use that artic placement or phonological skill ALL the time!? Sheesh.

I once heard it explained like this- imagine that every time you say an /s/, you have to pronounce it as a /f/. That is what we’re asking our kids to do: totally rethink how they speak. Or should I say, “That if what we’re afking our kidf to do: totally rethink how they fpeak?” That’s HARD.

Well have no fear! I’ve compiled a list of my favorite games and activities to use with my kiddos who are about ready to fly the nest. First up, we have the older kiddos (which of course means around age 6 and up- you know, ancient.)

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1. PicWits

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This game is filled with cute, interesting, and goofy pictures that keep things fun and provide plenty of material for discussion. It comes with caption cards (which you can strategically choose based on phonemes. I am a big fan of bending the world to my speech pathology-fueled will). Kids get to pair the photos and captions how they see fit. Laughs are all but guaranteed.

Bonus: I often find creating natural situations for heavy “th” carryover can be tricky. This game is my go-to. Have your kiddo talk you through which card they are choosing. “The one with the dog wearing the wig.”

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2. Conversation Cards

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Photo Credit: Jonathan Simcoe via unsplash.com

I have a box filled with conversation cards. Not only do they break the ice and help new kids get comfortable- they are great for carryover! I plan on creating a set of question cards for SpeechyThings on TpT in the near future, but for now check out these awesome adorable freebies from Lindsey Karol and Jenn Alcorn!

Also- check the dollar spot at Target. I cannot be near that heavenly place without wondering through endless bins of adorable cheap things. Every once in a while they have some AWESOME conversation / question cards.

To summarize: I love conversation cards. And the dollar spot. And the dollar spot’s conversation cards. And Target in general.

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3. Reading Out Loud

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Photo Credit: Josh Applegate via unsplash.com

It can be a favorite book or it can be a book strategically chosen by you (where my interdental lispers at?).

You can also check out these intense tongue twisters from Super Duper. These are awesome for homework!

For even more fun- find out one of your kiddo’s favorite TV shows and print off the script!  (Perhaps pre-read to keep it all G rated, of course. Silly Sheldon.)

No matter which way you slice it- reading out loud is great practice, it’s functional, and it’s perfect for home programming.

READ READ READ. I hear it makes you smarter.

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4. Sing!

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Photo Credit: Jason Rosewell via unsplash.com

Find out your kiddos favorite songs and SING! We are seriously all about fun and function here at SpeechyThings. Enjoying music is a huge part of being human. Can you imagine a world where EVERYONE doesn’t passionately join in when Bohemian Rhapsody comes on? Me neither and I don’t wanna.

Sing with your kids! Tay Swift. Biebs. Demi. Whatever. Just do it! And feel free to check out my previous blog discussing the virtues of Anytune– the music “slower downer” to help make your little friend’s soulful rendition more doable.

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5. Headbanz

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This is an obvious choice, I know. Use it with the original cards. Use it with a fun deck. It’s an instant classic for every SLP.

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6. Guess Who

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Yet another obvious classic, I suppose. But this game is so versatile!

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7. Bear Hunt

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Let me preface with this: I cannot find this for sale online and it. is. a. TRAGEDY.
I am fortunate to have access to this gem thanks to a very nice coworker. If you come across one- snatch it up! And then let me know where you found it!

Bear Hunt is Like guess who- but with a twist! It’s sturdy, portable, and adorable. We expect nothing less from Melissa and Doug, amiright? Great for R kids. Will buy immediately on sight if I come across another set. Meanwhile, I will stalk amazon and every garage sale in Texas until it is mine.

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8. Choosing Toys for Younger Kids

Some kids need to MOVE and PLAY! Not a problem. Strategically pick out your toys to create opportunities for your target phoneme. For your phono kiddo who demonstrates fronting- choose a cat, name your people Gary/Katy, play with a kazoo- whatever! Just help your little friend out. This is a great tip for parents to try at home too. (True story: I once suggested a family name their new puppy to suit my client’s artic/phono goals… AND IT WORKED! No shame in my game.)

One of my favorite toy sets in our clinic is a bunch of jungle animals. And by jungle animals I mean there are tigers, lions, and monkeys …. but there may or may not also be a goat, camel, and flamingo casually thrown in. No biggie. These random animals, along with my handy dandy object box (of truly random little toys) create so many natural opportunities for practice and carryover. Particularly for little friends who may be more shy about creating their own language and articulation opportunities. For those more outgoing kiddos- try a puppet show! Or play house!

After a long day of paperwork and drill, it can be so refreshing to get on the floor and PLAY!

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To wrap it up…

I hope some of these suggestions were helpful for you. What I love most about each of these activities is that they are easy for families to do at home. Not only do they promote quality time, but it’s not another stinking word list or set of flash cards. It’s structured and FUN. The best of both worlds. If your families prefer something a little more tangible, you can always send home reading materials, conversation cards, or tongue twisters.

Let me know if one of your favorite carryover activities didn’t make the list. I would love to hear about it!