Old stories and folk tales have been used to educate children for thousands of years, and we are still finding fun and creative ways to incorporate them into learning. This week at Building BLOCS, some of our groups have been reading the story of the Little Red Hen. This story is integrated into various parts of the day, from storytime to pretend play.
During storytime, everyone sits in a circle and listens to the story of the Little Red Hen. This sets the groundwork for the other activities–it’s important to know the story we’re talking about! We like to make it interactive, so we pause the story to ask each child a question that corresponds with his or her learning objectives. For example, someone might be asked to “point to the bread,” while someone else might be asked, “Who is cooking?”. Sometimes, we pass around toys that relate to the story to practice sharing and other important skills as well.
Pretend play is when everyone gets a chance to let their creativity shine. The therapists lead an activity in the gym in which the children get to pick their own wheat, roll out their dough, and bake their bread–all in their imagination, of course! We all get a chance to process our grain and seeds in the kitchen at the first station by pouring rice through a small plastic play set. Next, we pretend we’re all giant rolling pins and roll the “dough”–four extra squishy bean bags on the floor. Then, with a slide down our slide, we put the bread in the oven to bake. Then, with a quick run back to our chairs, we’ve all baked bread, and it’s time to eat! Once everyone has had a chance to bake and “eat” their bread, we all head back to the other room for more activities.
For children with ASD, pretend play can often be difficult. However, by finding a unifying theme, like the story of the Little Red Hen, and creating a fun group activity, makes it easier and more enjoyable for learning all kinds of new skills.
We’re so excited for our brand new class for both parents and kids, Talk to Me Baby! In this class, board-certified SLP Jennifer Grantham teaches simple ways to increase your child’s speech and language skills through books, music, motor games and toy play. It’s great for kids aged 18 months to 3 years of any developmental background.
We know that you know your child best, so this class gives speech language pathologists and parents the opportunity to join forces in order to teach language skills effectively. You can show us what your child’s favorite game or song is, and we’ll show you how to utilize that play activity to target communication skills. The goal of this class is to shape what you’re already doing at home to foster language development.
Every class will target a different goal based on the needs of the families attending. For example, one class might target what sounds are developmentally appropriate, while another might target using a slower rate of conversation to be a better conversational partner for your little one. However, each class will feature music, a story, toy time, and motor time. There will also be time for questions and time to practice the day’s target strategy. It’s fun for kids and educational for parents, so both of you are sure to enjoy the activities. Plus, there’s no need to bring or prepare anything–just show up ready to learn and have fun!
Talk to Me Baby will take place from 9:30-10:30am on Fridays starting in January. For more information, call 512-827-7011 or email us at Therapy@BlocsAustin.com
Some of the best tricks used by speech pathologists to promote language in young children are simple–entice a child with an exciting toy that they need assistance with, model language (1-2 word sentences), and WAIT. Waiting is key to give a child the opportunity to use the language they’re hearing.
Watch Brandy modeling these strategies with some toys you’re sure to have at home.
Here are a few photos from our lemonade stand this week. The kids did a great job mixing up two batches of lemonade–pink and regular–greeting, and helping the customers. It was a hot, sunny day–a perfect day for a lemonade!
Our kids really love to help out in the kitchen. This recipe is perfect because it’s so simple–just a few ingredients and a few simple steps. It also ties in perfectly with our Three Little Pigs theme.
We use the following simplified haystacks recipe:
- 1 cup peanut butter chips**
- 1 cup butterscotch chips
- 1/2 can chow mein noodles
Melt the peanut butter and butterscotch chips in a double boiler, fondue pot, or microwave. Remove from heat. Stir in chow mein noodles. Make small mounds on wax paper and let your child mold them into straw houses. So easy and delicious!
**If your child has a peanut allergy, substitute chocolate chips for peanut butter chips, and call it a stick house!
Here’s a visual so your child can follow along and read the recipe with you.
Nesting cups are a common toy for people to have around the house. Here, Brandy demonstrates a fun game that we like to play with them.
This game can focus on so many things. A few things include:
- Eye contact: Point or have a child point to the cup then wait for them to look up at you to nod, “yes” or shake your head “no.”
- Pointing – Have the child point to cups to chose one.
- Labeling put pictures on the cup that go with a book that you are reading, have the child label the picture on the cup. ( i.e., is the pig in the straw house, the brick house, or the stick house?)
- Yes/No – Point to one have the child shake their head Yes/No to open it.
If your child is in early intervention with us, we’ve been reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar this month. Here’s a fun language extension to play at home.
Using either a sock as a puppet or another item that you could pretend is a caterpillar, read the story. Have the caterpillar pretend to eat the foods on each page, “yum yum yum.” Don’t forget to get some good nibbles of your child’s belly while doing this. After the story, look around the house for things that the caterpillar might like to eat. Try some food, “yum yum yum.” And some non-foods, “Ewww yucky!” Have fun, include lots of tickles and nibbles.
Here are some links to the The Very Hungry Caterpillar book and a fun caterpillar puppet if you are in need of supplies.
Halloween brings opportunities for some amazing language and pretend play activities. Pretending to go trick-or-treating with your child has the added benefit of making Halloween night a lot more predictable and fun for you and your child. Here are some simple ideas to help you get started and enjoy some quality play time with your child.
Continue reading “Pretend Play: Trick-or-Treating”