Did you know that books are a great way to work on your child’s critical thinking and problem-solving skills? At The Speech Space we are huge fans of books. The choices for books are endless and these days there are SO MANY great ones! Here is a list of current kid-favorites that are great for working on critical thinking and problem solving skills:
Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers: When a penguin shows up at his door, a boy decides to find out where the penguin came from and get him home. The journey back to the South Pole is difficult and the boy tells the penguin stories to pass the time. When they get to the South Pole, the penguin looks sad and the boy realizes that the penguin wasn’t lost, he was just lonely. This book is great for working on inferences, predictions, sequencing, and emotions.
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson: As a mouse is walking in the forest, he meets a fox, an owl, and then a snake, who all want to eat him for dinner. Instead of being eaten, the smart mouse invents The Gruffalo, who happens to enjoy eating each of these animals for dinner to scare them away. Turns out that The Gruffalo is real! This book is great for ‘wh’ questions (e.g., who, what, where), predictions, inferences, and sequencing.
Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet by Kelly DiPucchio: Gilbert is a goldfish who has a pretty awesome life. But, the one thing he wants and the one thing he doesn’t have is a pet. Gilbert goes on a long journey to find a pet, experiencing different situations and emotions. In the end, thank goodness, he gets his wish! This book is great for working on “why” questions, inferences, emotions, and sequencing.
The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear by Don & Audrey Wood: In this story a little mouse finds a delicious, ripe strawberry. As he’s going to get the strawberry he is told about a big, hungry bear that can smell a ripe strawberry miles away! The mouse goes into a panic trying to figure out ways to protect his ripe strawberry (don’t worry, in the end he figures out a way!). This book is great for working on WH- questions (what, where, why, etc), inferencing, predictions, emotions, and sequencing.
Books are not only great for comprehension and vocabulary, but also for critical thinking and problem solving. As you read books to your child, try to use personal connections to help them relate to the story (e.g.,"He wants a pet. What pet do we have?", "If you could have a pet, what would you chose?").
If your child is able to answer simple WH questions (e.g., who, what, where, when), work on asking questions that require them to apply the knowledge they have to make inferences (e.g., "Why is the mouse trying to hide the strawberry?", "How might he feel if the bear got his strawberry? How would you feel?") and predictions (e.g., "The boy seems to miss the penguin. What might he do?"). After you finish the story see if your child can sequence and retell the story back to you (feel free to flip through the pages together again while they are sequencing and retelling the story).
These are just a few kid-favorite books (and frankly The Speech Space therapists' favorites too). Check back on the blog for more ideas to help encourage your child's speech and language development.
If you have questions or concerns about your child's s development, contact us at The Speech Space. We offer free screenings, which take approximately 30 minutes, and can help identify potential problems.
Spring Break is coming up in DC! School breaks can be an amazing opportunity to spend time with your child and make sure they’re getting a language rich experience. Often parents feel overwhelmed with choices or may not have many ideas of what to do. You don’t have to go on a trip to make this break an exciting time, and depending on your family dynamics, you may need to stay close to home. Staycations can be fun and give you the opportunity to connect with your child. We’re here to give you some easy and fun ideas of things you can do during your staycation to have fun and really encourage your child’s language development.
Monday: Library and Books
1. Talk about libraries:
2. Discuss how you’ll get to the library. Modes of transportation are almost always an interesting topic for children. Although you may live close to a library, perhaps you’re going to a new library that day for a specific story time or group activity. Will you drive? Walk? Bike? If you live in DC, will you metro? Although grown-ups can get tired of the metro system, it’s usually a novel and exciting experience for kids and gives your child a lot to talk about (taking escalators, metro cards, what lines will you take, what stop will you get off, etc).
4. While you travel to the library, talk about what kinds of books your child might like and how you will go about finding them. Maybe you’ll ask the librarian or look it up on a computer in the library. Also, talk about how many books you will check out.
5. Once you’re done and home, talk about all the steps you took to get to the library. Discuss what you saw, what you did, and what you got. Parents often ask their children, “What did you do today?”, when they have been at school, but it’s just as important to ask this same question when you’ve been with your child all day. It makes it easier to help them recall the sequence and details of events and helps get rid of the “I don’t know” answer since you can help them remember!
Tuesday: Indoor Pools or Water Play Day
In DC, there are a few indoor water parks; however, if you live in a warmer climate or if the weather if the weather during Spring Break is nice, you may just want to keep the water fun in your own backyard! Either way, there is so much language associated with water play to bring out language in kids.
1. If you are going to a pool, the first thing to talk about is how we interact with water. It’s always a good idea to review how we play in and around water. See how many rules or ways we play in the water (wearing floaties, making sure parent is around in the water, no running on the pool deck, etc.) your child can name. This is a good way to see how much your child remembers about water rules.
2. Whether you are going to the pool or doing water play at your house, you and your child can work on building their vocabulary and association concepts during your water play day.
3. Some kids have difficulty understanding and using negatives correctly (e.g., not, no, none). To target negatives, you can play a sorting game with your child. You can pull some items from around your house and decide if they can go in the water or if they cannot go in the water (this may vary depending on if you are going to a pool or doing water play at home). Then your child can pull out items (either the same ones you did or new ones) and decide if the items go in the water or not. Some examples could be: clothing items, stuffed animals, cars, bath toys, food items. You can talk about if they DO or DO NOT go in water.
4. If you are doing water play at home, you can use this opportunity to work on language concepts to help build your child's vocabulary. Maybe your child wants to pretend they are in the arctic during their water play-- what animals would they see, what would the water feel like, you could even add ice cubes to make it cold or use as glaciers! You can do this for other bodies of water too and add items that go with them (e.g., ocean, lake, pond). This activity is great for building your child's vocabulary skills by giving opportunities for working on category and association concepts, comparing and contrasting, and even attributes (color, shape, size, number).
Wednesday: Parks and Playgrounds
1. Start this activity by talking about which park is your child’s favorite. Every park has so many different features, you can compare/contrast equipment in various parks (e.g.,"They both have slides, but this one has a merry-go-round and that one has swings.").
2. Once you decide where to go, describe all the parts of the park. Are there sidewalks? What’s on the ground? Think of all the pieces of play equipment. Is it big or small? What colors are there on the play equipment?
3. Discuss how you’ll get there and the steps you take to get to the park. Will you drive or walk or bike or scooter? What do you need for each of these?
.4. Maybe you'll decide to have a snack or lunch while you are at the park or playground. If so, you can have your child help you prepare and pack your snack or lunch. While doing this you can work on categories (fruits vs. vegetables; drinks vs. foods, etc), comparing/contrasting (e.g., "The fruit snacks are red and the carrots are orange.") and even sequencing (e.g., while you prepare the sandwich together talk about all the steps you are doing to make the sandwich: first we get out the bread, what do we do next?).
5.. As you’re on the way to the park or playground, describe the things that you see. You can play “I Spy” as you go to draw your child's attention to what’s in the sky or on the ground or in the street.
Cooking is a great way to help your child work on sequencing and retelling activities in a hands on way, plus, it can get you to the store to do your grocery shopping!
1. Start by picking one or two (easy) things to make. Fruit salad, cookies, smoothies,or chex mix are some easy and safe things to try out for first time chefs.
2. Make a list of all the ingredients you’ll need for each thing you’ll make. We like to try to draw pictures of the items when we cook, although neither of us are great artists! It will help your child to retell and sequence with pictures, so try it out if you can.
3. Next, go to the store. Give your child 2 items to go find for your recipes (on the aisle you are on). If they find those, see if they can get 3 items. Making this a game will help keep them busy and help them to work on following directions with multiple concepts.
4. When you get home, get the recipe(s) and have your child gather the ingredients as you read them, or vice versa. As you begin ‘cooking,’ try to use sequence words (first, second, third; first, next, last; first, then; before, after, etc) and give 1 or 2 steps at a time (depending on what your child can do). For example: “First wash the strawberries and then cut them.” (for cutting, we like these knives)
5. Having your child tell you what things are used to perform certain tasks is another good language activity (e.g., "What do we use to cut the fruit?", "What do we use to bake the cookies?"). Or, have them get things in categories ("Get all the fruit." or "Get all the utensils.", etc).This will help your child begin to think of objects in different ways, build associations, as well as, their vocabulary.
6. When you’re ready to eat, try to work on describing the foods. You can use categories, color, taste, size, temperature, and/or texture. Then, bon appétit!
Friday: Around the House
There are some common items around your house that kids will love to play with. Feel free to experiment and see what piques your child’s interest and creates the most language-rich experiences.
1. Shaving cream is one of our favorites. Most children really love squishing their hands in shaving cream and there’s a lot to talk about as they do. The color, how it feels, what you could pretend that it is, what you can draw in it...the list could go on and on! We love to put small animal toys and pretend it’s snow, or drive cars through shaving cream and pretend it’s a car wash, or draw in it (a great way to practice making letters or shapes).
2. Water in a tub or bucket is another great idea. Kids love water for some reason (unless they have to take a bath!). Get bowls, measuring cups, lids- anything around the house that could scoop up water. You can also do experiments with various objects (e.g., coins, tissues, pencils, figurines, blocks) to see which items float and which ones do not.
3. Tape is surprisingly exciting to use in order to make pictures or just to play with. We like the Washi tape or duct tape with different patterns to make pictures. You can put them on paper or make designs on the sidewalk. Have them tell you about the colors, shapes, or designs they make.
4. If it's a nice day and you have a good patch of sidewalk or walkway in front of where you live, grab some chalk and go outside! We like to play hop-scotch, which is a fun way to work on counting! You and your child can draw the hop-scotch squares together or you can each have your own hop-scotch squares. You can also take the opportunity to work on things like categories (e.g., "Let's draw zoo animals" or "Let's draw some food for our outside pretend snack! Should we draw vegetables or desserts?",), attributes (i.e., colors, shapes, size, number), prepositions (e.g., "Let's draw a sun above our flowers.", "Our house needs a door. Should we put it under the windows or next to the windows?"),
5. Build a marble tower out of recyclable materials around your house! Think of all those paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, yogurt containers, bubble wrap, boxes and other things you collect over just one week. You and your child can work together to build your very own, homemade marble tower. This activity is really great for problem-solving, team work, making predictions, coming up with solutions and getting creative. You can even YouTube a video before you start building so your child can get excited and inspired about the different possibilities.
We hope you and your family have a great Spring Break! Maybe you have some favorite staycation ideas you and your child do together? Feel free to share your ideas in our comments section.
If you are having concerns about your child’s development reach out to us at The Speech Space. We offer free screenings, which take approximately 30 minutes, and can help identify potential problems.
It's time again for our monthly segment: Favorite Toys Without Batteries! As we talked about here and here, we love toys without batteries. Below is The Speech Space's April list of great toys that don't make noise, so that you can get your child talking more while you play!
Magna-Tiles: These are a HUGE hit with kids. We are always surprised at the endurance children have with Magna-Tiles. For younger children, we tend to like the Magformers a little more, as they are easier to grip and the magnets seem to hold a little stronger. You can work on having your child describe the shape, color, size and/or number of the Magna-Tiles they want to use, sort the tiles by these same attributes (i.e., color, shape, size, number) or describe/talk about what they want to build. You can also make something and give your child clues (e.g., “It’s big and astronauts fly it to space”--a spaceship) so they can guess what you made!
Pop-up Pirate: Anything that pops out and surprises kids is sure to be a hit. This game is great to work on following directions, prepositions (i.e., location), and attributes attributes. You can hide the swords in various locations and then have your child go find them by giving directions (e.g., “Find the blue sword that is under the chair.”). This is also an easy game to incorporate simple 2 step directions (e.g., “Get the red sword before you get the green sword.”). We always modify things for our kids when needed, so feel free to do the same! You can limit the number of swords you put out to make it easier for your child. You can also work on increasing your child’s expressive language with this game. Have your child hide the swords and then give you the directions. Make sure your child is using attributes and prepositions in their directions (e.g., "Get the red sword.", "Get the sword next to the chair.", “Get 2 blue swords that are on the table.”). If your child is working on a specific sound, you can have them produce the sound or a word with that particular sound for every sword they put into the pirate’s barrel (e.g., if they are working on their V sound for every sword they have to say a word with a V in it). .
What’s in Ned’s Head: Ned has some really weird (and really gross!) things in his head that you need to get out. Along with all the items in Ned’s head, there are matching picture cards which you can use to describe the objects your child needs to get out. Or you and your child can take turns describing which items you have to get out of his head. When making descriptions make sure to use attributes (i.e., color, shape, size, number), category (i.e., what group does the item belong to), function (i.e., what does the item do or what do we do with the item) and location (where would you find or see the item); these concepts help build your child’s vocabulary and language organization skills. All of our kids think this game is hilarious (especially when we feign not wanting to pull out the things they describe because they are “so gross!” or “so scary!”). You can even talk about the items and compare/contrast them (e.g., which one is your favorite, which one is the weirdest or grossest, why? etc)-- just make it fun and silly and your child will enjoy it!
These are just a few more our favorite toys without batteries. If you missed our previous segments, you can see them here and here! Check back on The Speech Space blog for other fun ideas, toys and games you can do with your child to help increase their communication development.
And as always, if you have questions or concerns about your child's development, contact us at The Speech Space! We offer free screenings, which take approximately 30 minutes, and can help identify potential problems.