Posts

Let’s Play! Board Games for Preschoolers

Just as children age and develop their speech and language skills, the board games they play will also continue to progress and increase in complexity. Board games that are appropriate for preschoolers therefore provide additional speech and language targets that were not available in early board games.

In early board games, the most common concepts that are emphasized are basic colors and numbers. However, in age-appropriate games for toddlers, main concepts will be more advanced – focusing on advanced colors, counting, shapes, and vocabulary. Likewise, game sequences will be more complex, requiring additional steps, and increased attention and frustration tolerance. For example, there may be a memory component within the game sequence or several options on which a player could act upon. Read on for my favorite board games for preschoolers and communication targets within each game.

Best board games for preschoolers and potential communication targets within each game:

  1.  Zingo – Zingo is one of the most popular games among my preschool and elementary clients. Zingo provides a multitude of opportunities to target a variety of speech and language skills. As zingowith any game, children can practice peer interactions – turn taking and asking questions (e.g., “Do you need a cat?”). Due to the variety of picture chips, children can work to increase their vocabulary and semantic networks, labeling pictures or answering WH- (what, where, when, who) questions regarding each picture (e.g., “What says woof?” or “Where do you live?”). Children can also work on following two step directions (e.g., “First put on the tree, then put on bird”)
  2.  Candy Land – Candy Land is a great next step when increasing the complexity of a game’s play sequence from early board games. Rather than just moving one space forward, a child has to findcandyland the next available corresponding color. The complexity increases if a child draws a double card or a specific land card. Candy Land also requires color identification skills, turn taking abilities and frustration tolerance as a player can move backwards and forwards.
  3. S’Match – S’Match offers a spin on your traditional memory game. A player spins the game board, identifying one of three categories: shape, number or color. The player then has to find 2 cards thatsmatch share the chosen characteristic. This game challenges a child’s ability to identify and distinguish between the three attributes (shape, number, color), finding cards that are the same or different. Players will exercise their memory skills as they try to find matches.
  4.  Sandwich Stacking Game – The Sandwich Stacking Game has the ability to be played in a variety of ways, allowing for flexibility in how it is used. Vocabulary can be targeted through board games for preschoolersidentifying the various food items or a child’s sequencing skills (i.e., having the child follow the picture card instructions to build a sandwich). This game is also perfect to target a child’s direction following game (e.g., “First get the piece of bread”, “Before you get the tomato, put on the lettuce). Providing directions verbally will also exercise a child’s auditory memory in a fun way.

NSPT offers speech and language services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

How to Make Building a Snowman into a Speech and Language Activity

Winter 2013-2014 has arrived and it has not been afraid to show us who’s boss this year. Snow, wind, ice, and frigid temps have alreadyhow to make building a snowman a speech and language activity graced us with their presence and getting outside is not always enjoyable. While some of us are not exactly fond of the snow, the kids love it! Building a snowman is a great way to enjoy the snow with them while targeting some speech and language goals such as sequencing, categorizing, and basic concepts.

Sequencing

Before going out into the arctic tundra that is Chicago, you can print off this worksheet to talk through, or sequence, the steps of building a snowman.

  • Cut out the pictures and put them in the correct sequence in front of your child. Have him verbalize a sentence or two about the pictures. For example, “First, you roll a big snowball.” You can also give your child verbal models for extra support as needed. Read more

Our 10 Favorite Speech and Language Apps for Kids

Apps can be a great way for kids to practice a variety of skills.  Read on for information on our top 10 choices for speech and language apps for children!

App Name

Focus

Age Group

Description

Purchase/Download Info

Peek-a-Boo Barn Lite
  • Spatial concepts (in, on, under, next to)
  • Animal sounds
  • Vocabulary (animals names, open/shut, barn)
  • Turn-taking
  • WH questions (what, where)
0-3 Listen to animal noises, then push barn doors to reveal the farm animal inside. Available in 10 languages. Free on iTunes for iPhone/iPad (full version, $1.99). $2.99 on Android

 

Toca Boca Kitchen Monsters
  • Verbs
  • Labeling (foods)
  • Language expansion (practice 2+ word phrases)
  • WH questions
  • Following directions
  • Environmental sounds
2-6 Choose and prepare various foods before feeding them to a Toca monster. Free on iTunes for iPhone/iPad
TallyTots
  • Verbs
  • Two-word combinations
  • Counting
  • Concepts (i.e. matching, size (big/little, on/off)
  • Following directions
2-6 Involves counting 1-20. Each number coordinates with an activity that illustrates language concepts $2.99 on iTunes for iPhone/iPad and  KindleFire/Android
Speech Tutor
  • Articulation
  • Visual cues (what mouth, lips, tongue, etc. are doing) for production
  • Tips for producing the sound
  • Other information about a selected sound
All Ages Watch a virtual mouth as it produces selected sounds. This application also provides tips for producing the sound and age for when we expect mastery of each sound. Free on iTunes for iPhone/iPad
My PlayHome Lite
  • Vocabulary (around the house)
  • Actions
  • Pronouns
  • Following directions
2-6 Manipulate people and things inside an interactive home (i.e. make Mom drink water, put Dad behind the couch, make the boy jump on a chair). Free on iTunes for iPad (full version, $3.99). $2.99 on Android
Articulation Station
  • Articulation
  • Matching
  • Labeling
All ages Speech sounds in words, sentences and stories in all positions of words (i.e. initial, medial and final). Choose from flashcards or matching games. Easy to keep track of accuracy and progress. Free to download on iTunes for iPhone/iPad (additional sounds $2.99 each).
iSequence
  • Sequencing
  • Expressive language (grammar, syntax)
  • Vocabulary
5-7 Put 3-4 picture sequences in the correct order. Includes 100 sequences. $2.99 on iTunes for iPhone/iPad
Blue Whale- NACD
  • Apraxia and articulation (CVC productions only)
1+ Imitate consonant-vowel-consonant (“CVC”) productions. 8 levels of complexity included. $4.99 on iTunes for iPad. Also available for $4.99 for Kindle, Android tablets and Nook.
Describe It to Me
  • Word-finding
  • Categories
  • Salient features
  • Object function
  • Parts
  • Location
5+ Complements EET program (Expanding Expression Tool). App can be used both expressively (e.g. to generate ideas), or receptively (e.g.  correctly select or point to various objects’ categories, function, parts). Customize  vocabulary given child’s needs, as well as skills targeted (categories, parts, etc). $9.99 on iTunes for iPad (free sample on iTunes).
Full Social Skills Builder
  • Understanding emotions
  • Perspective taking
  • Identifying appropriate responses (making comments, asking for information)
5-12 Videos are organized according to age group (school age, adolescent). Watch videos in different environments (school, community). Child answers 3-5 multiple choice questions following video. $14.99 on iTunes for iPhone/iPad (free sample on iTunes).

Click Here to View our Speech and Language Infographic!

*Co-written by Caitlin Brady

Help Your Child Learn to Sequence

Whether we know it or not, we are constantly sequencing throughout the day. As we tie our shoes, we sequence the steps. When we complete a project, we plan the order tasks will be accomplished. As we talk with friends, we organize our thoughts and ideas into a logical order. For some children, however, sequencing can be challenging. 

You might notice your child having difficulty verbally expressing herself. Her ideas might appear fragmented or disconnected. She may leave out important information while including irrelevant details. Or you might notice your child forgetting important steps when completing daily tasks, such as going to the bathroom. She might forget to close the door or flush the toilet. If you find this is a problem for your child, fear not. There are many ways to practice sequencing with your child.

5 fun activities to help your child develop sequence skills at home:

  1. Retell a favorite storybook. Read a book with your child. Afterwards, retell the story together while thinking about three important things that happened. This may be challenging for your child, so simplify it by using pictures as you retell the story. Photocopy pictures from the book (choose just a few important pages as opposed to every page), and have your child tape pictures on the wall in the correct order.
  2. Plan a fun recipe. Plan out the steps you will need to complete the recipe. Based on your child’s age and level, you might write the steps out or draw pictures of each step. After you’ve completed the steps to make the recipe, encourage your child to share it with others. Have her describe how she made it.
  3. Make a scrapbook from a family outing. Plan a fun outing and take pictures throughout the day. Afterwards, have your child put the pictures in the correct order (limit it to 3-5 pictures, depending on your child’s level). Glue each picture in a construction paper book and help your child write a sentence to go with each picture (first…then…etc.). Encourage your child to share her book with others and tell them about her fun day.
  4. Have your child be the “teacher” while you play a game. Choose a favorite board game, and pretend you forgot the rules. Encourage your child to be the “teacher” and tell others how to play. Guide her language by writing or drawing pictures of each step while she explains the rules.
  5. Talk about various sequence concepts. Concepts might include first, then, second, last, before, or after. Line up your child’s stuffed animals and encourage your child to find the animal who is “first.” Or you play “Simon Says” while encouraging your child to follow directions in the correct order (“Simon says first___, then___”).

Most importantly, have fun! The best kind of learning is often when your child doesn’t know she’s learning at all. By choosing fun activities, you can enjoy time with your child while still helping her learn and grow.

Do you want to learn more about sequencing?  Click here to learn about the difference between sequencing and memory.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonDeerfieldLincolnwoodGlenviewLake BluffDes PlainesHinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!

Meet-With-An-Occupational-Therapist

Executive Functioning Activities At Home

Many kids have difficulty mastering skills such as problem-solving, organization, sequencing, initiation, memory, attention, and breaking downgirl with homework books tasks.  These skills (and many more) fall under the category of executive functioning.  As children get older and begin middle school, these skills are expected to advance quickly.  It is usually in about 5th grade where teachers and parents start to notice their child may be having more difficulty than her peers in executive functioning skills. Academic specialists, occupational therapists, and neuropsychologists are just a few of the professionals who address challenges in these areas, but there are also a variety of activities that can be done at home that are both fun and target the development of certain executive functioning skills.

Here is a list of activities that build certain aspects of executive functioning and are fairly easy to orchestrate in the home:

  • Using Playdoh, blocks, or Tinkertoys, build a figurine and have your child build an exact replica in size and color.  This works on multiple skills, including initiation, breaking down tasks, sequencing, organization, and attention.  If you are unable to build an example, or if you have an older child who enjoys playing independently, there are often pictures of structures to build that come along with block sets or images online that can be printed.
  • Have your child go through a magazine and make a list of all the toys/items wanted. Then, have her organize the list in some sort of order (most wanted at the top, alphabetical, price, etc.).  For older kids, you could also have them write a description of the item, cut the pictures out, and type up a list with descriptions and pasted pictures, or even plan a presentation.
  • There are many board games that target executive functioning skill development.  A few of the games used in the therapeutic setting that would be easy and fun options for home use include: Rush Hour (a problem-solving and sequencing game involving getting a specific car out of a traffic jam when the other vehicles can only move in straight lines), Mastermind (trying to determine what the secret code is by process of elimination), and Connect 4 Stackers (a game of attention, organization, and planning to be the first to get four in a row, like the original, but this game involves different dimensions).
  • There are many resources that can be printed from the internet. Logic puzzles come in many different levels of difficulty and involve taking given clues, making inferences from those clues, and eventually solving some sort of problem through the use of the clues. There are often charts that accompany these puzzles and require attention, organization, sequencing and problem-solving.
  • Have your child choose a recipe from a magazine. After verifying that it is a realistic recipe that can be made in your home, have her write a grocery list containing everything needed to prepare that dish, create a list of the necessary cooking supplies, and for older children, have them look up the price of each item at the store and create an estimated budget. If possible, let them be part of the entire process, and take them with you to the grocery store. Again, with older children, you could even put them in charge of pushing the cart and finding the items in the store. For older kids, they may also act as the “head chef” and be responsible for completing most of the cooking. For younger kids, if there are safety concerns, assign specific tasks as their job in the cooking process.

One of the most important aspects of doing therapeutic activities at home is that your child is having fun. These are just a few of the many activities that can be done at home to develop executive functioning skills and are also engaging and enjoyable for school age kids.




Love What You Read?  Click Here To Subscribe To Our Blogs Via Email!

Differentiating Between Sequencing and Memory

Oftentimes sequencing and memory can look the same. However, there are some activities that require memory and not sequencing. It is important to memory gamepractice both skills, as both are required to complete tasks at school and at home, and in order to learn new skills.

What is Sequencing?

Sequencing involves completing an activity in the proper order (e.g. following a recipe). It might also look like a routine (e.g. getting dressed: first undergarments, then shirt/pants, then socks/shoes). Sequencing helps a child to complete an activity from start to finish in the correct order. It also helps a child to know how to do new activities (e.g. first _____, then ______).

All sequencing activities require memory:

  • Creating a pattern (e.g. beads on a necklace/bracelet)
  • Recalling a color pattern (e.g. blue, green, yellow, green)
  • Steps to shoe tying

What is Memory?

Memory requires auditory and visual processing to hear and/or see the directions of an activity (e.g. recalling steps to an obstacle course; memorizing facts for a test). Memory helps a child to remember what he should be doing and why. It also helps a child to do the task the same way each time.

Memory is required for sequencing:

  • Memory game (finding matching cards)
  • Listening to directions and repeating them back
  • Studying a picture, and recalling items in the picture (when picture is taken away)

Sequencing and memory activities are important for people of all ages, young and elderly. These skills help to keep our minds sharp and active. Stay tuned for my next blog on creating a ‘Treasure Hunt’ to incorporate both sequencing and memory into one fun child-friendly activity!

LOVE WHAT YOU READ?  CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO OUR BLOGS VIA EMAIL!

We are Going on a Treasure Hunt!

As I mentioned in my previous blog, sequencing and memory activities are important for people of all ages. These skills help to keep our minds sharp and active and allow us remember old skills as well as learn new patterns and routines. A “treasure hunt” is a fun way to work on these two skills, all wrapped into one child-friendly activity!

How To Create A Treasure Hunt For Your Family!

Parents help son with handwriting

Materials: construction paper, markers, equipment needed within treasure hunt (e.g. ball; scissors etc)

Directions:

  • First, talk out loud together with your child about how many steps you are going to include in your treasure hunt.
  • Next, determine what these steps are going to be (e.g. dribble a tennis ball 10 times, cut out a circle, copy a block design, balance on one leg etc).
  • Make sure that you include age appropriate tasks that your child needs to be working on.
  • Some of these tasks should be ones that are easier and your child can be more successful with, and some should be more challenging to help work on a novel skill and/or skills your child has a harder time with.
  • After you have verbally determined what will be in the treasure hunt, have your child repeat these steps back to you, first verbally, and then by copying the steps onto construction paper in a treasure map format (e.g. working towards the “X” which signifies the ‘treasure’ and the end of the treasure hunt). Lastly, help your child to implement the treasure hunt by having him tell you which step he will be completing first (e.g. first I will ______, and then I will ______).
  • If your child is having a hard time recalling which step comes next, have him refer to his treasure map to visually study the steps again, and then have him state the steps out loud again to help the information stick in his mind. Feel free to do this as often as needed throughout the activity.
  • Your child will show progress in his memory and sequencing skills by requiring less and less visual and/or verbal cues for the sequence of activities. Provide a small reward of your choosing for the “treasure” that your child will enjoy after he has completed the hunt!

Skills addressed in a Treasure Hunt:

  • Fine motor (to draw/write out the treasure map)
  • Auditory processing and memory (to listen to and repeat back the steps of the treasure hunt)
  • Sequencing (to complete the treasure hunt in the correct order)
  • Following directions
  • Attention (staying on task throughout the activity)

Love What You Read?  Click Here To Subscribe To Our Blogs Via Email!

How to Teach your Child with Sensory Processing Difficulties How to Ride a Bike

Learning to ride a bike can be a scary and overwhelming adventure for both the parents and the child involved!  There are many components required for bike riding, such as motor planning, body awareness, trunk control, balance, self-confidence, following directions, safety awareness, timing, and sequencing.  However, one of the best things about bike riding is that the child is typically very motivated and excited to do it, as he sees his friends or other children in the neighborhood doing so already.

SPD Child riding a bike

Below are several strategies on how to get started:

  • Practice lots of balance activities:  balance is a huge part of bike riding; therefore, it is important to strengthen these skills by challenging your child’s ability to maintain various positions including standing on one leg, sustaining yoga poses, walking across balance beams, or kneeling on an unstable surface such as the bosu ball.
  • Incorporate a variety of activities with wheels:  while being able to ride a bike independently might be the ultimate goal, it is beneficial to incorporate other similar skill sets into your child’s play experience.  This will help you and your child to take the emphasis off of the fact that he does not know how to ride a bike and help to focus on the excitement of trying new things (e.g. scooter, skate board, tricycle, roller skates, etc.).  Similarly, your child might really excel at one of these activities, in which this activity can then be used as a confidence booster when the child has already mastered it.
  • Practice inside:  have your child practice simply balancing on the bike/sitting on the bike in a safe environment, such as inside (e.g. basement or playroom/living room if appropriate).  Place large pillows/beanbags next to the bike so the child feels secure, and if he falls, he will crash into the pillows.
  • Involve different family members/friends:  bike riding can be a very complex task; therefore, it can be extremely beneficial to involve different family members/friends to help with the process. Different people have different strategies and ways of motivating and sometimes one strategy will really hit home for your child.  Similarly, then the same parent and child won’t get so frustrated with one another.
  • Visual schedule:  help your child to make a visual schedule/calendar to illustrate when the child will start practicing and what skill he will work on each day (e.g. getting onto bike; peddling with both legs; ride to the corner etc); then the child can put an “x” or a sticker on the chart when he completes a day of practice, or practices a skill etc.  Visual schedules can be motivating for the child, and provide structure.
  • Take the pedals off:  taking the pedals off of the bike helps initially with learning the feel of the bike/balance. Take the bike to a small hill and have the child ride down without the pedals, this provides an introduction to moving and balancing on the bike without needing the coordination to pedal.

Learning a novel activity can be intimidating for a child, as it is a totally new experience and requires a significant amount of following directions and motor planning.  Similarly, teaching  novel activities can be nerve wracking for the parents, especially if it is a skill they have not taught before, like bike riding.  As parents, it is important to keep in mind that every child learns differently and requires different levels of support when learning a new skill.  Make sure to constantly praise your child during this challenging activity, even if it seems like the tiniest accomplishment (e.g. buckling bike helmet independently; putting kickstand down independently).  As always, feel free to talk with an occupational therapist or physical therapist if you need more individualized strategies or have other gross motor concerns for your child.

Love What You Read?  Click Here To Subscribe To Our Blogs Via Email!