Thursday, January 4, 2018

Therapy Tip: 1st Words Activity

It's Therapy Thursday! This is the day that I share a tip based upon my experience as a pediatric speech-language pathologist and the mother of a child with special needs. Today's tip is:

An Easy 1st Words Activity

If you read my blog, you'll know I have spent over 10 years working in my state's birth-3 program. I have spent hours and hours treating toddlers with language delays. Some children that start therapy with me have absolutely no words. Others may have just a word or two. For these children, I have a few different activities I like to do to encourage some basic first words. Today, I'm sharing one of my favorite activities.

I refer to this as my flashcard and real object match up.
Some therapists are very anti-flashcards. I don't mind them, but I don't necessarily use them every week either. They, like everything else, have their place.

Flashcards are a great bridge for toddlers who won't sit for short books. Books are essential for teaching vocabulary and expanding a child's attention span. Some children don't have any kind of attention for books, but they may sit briefly for flashcards. The flashcards allow the child to focus on the one word too, which is great for early language learners.

To make this activity, I looked through some of my many sets of flashcards that I purchased at local stores (Dollar Store, Walmart). Then I tried to think about real objects I had that I could pair with certain flashcards. 

As you see above in the picture, ball, shoe, and cup were 3 of the 10 cards I chose. These three were chosen because they are common words for toddlers. The rest of the words I chose were based off of what objects I could match up and what sort of words or sounds I could elicit from children. I used flower so I could target a sound effect (ah-choo). Bug is another word I chose because I could target words like yuck and ew in addition to the word bug. 

Whenever you have collected your flashcards and real objects, place them all in a bag to hold. Present your child with a flashcard. Draw their attention to the picture as you say the word. A few seconds later, present the real object while saying the word again. I will say the word while pointing to the real object and then the card. Then present the next flashcard and object taking cues from the child. Some toddlers need to move quickly through each pairing because their attention is short. Others will spend a good 30 seconds focusing on each word pair. The child will let you know how slow or fast to go. Some children may not be able to get through all 10 pairings you made, but hopefully over time, they will.  

If you are teaching sign language to your toddler, then model the sign as you present the pictures and the objects too. This is a great way to teach a few signs one at a time! 

This is a simple activity that is great for children just beginning to learn to speak, and you probably have most of the items you need to make it happen in your home. 

Therapy Thursday is for educational purposes only and not intended as therapeutic advice.

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