Thursday, March 22, 2018

Therapy Tip: 10 Uses for Plastic Eggs

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

10 Uses for Plastic Eggs in Speech Therapy

It's Easter! If there isn't already, there will soon be plastic eggs littered all over yards and homes. I love using these plastic eggs to change up activities for the work that I do with toddlers. Today, I thought I would give you 10 ways you can build speech-language skills with these plastic eggs. Obviously, anything small and plastic should be used with supervision for toddlers, but you knew that.

1. Color matching: Gather 10 eggs (2 of 5 different colors). Show the child how you can sort them out by placing green by green, blue by blue, etc. If it is too hard or too easy, change the number of eggs. You can also use an egg carton to make it a little more structured. On one row in the carton place 6 different colored eggs. Then, ask the child to place the matching color next to the egg in the carton. Still yet, you can get colored construction paper the same color as the eggs. Place the construction paper out and show the child how you can match the eggs to the same color as the paper.

2. Big/Little: You can reinforce the concepts of big and little in a couple of ways. First, you can simply get two different sized eggs to show big and little. Secondly, you can get small items and see which ones are little enough to fit inside the eggs and which ones are too big to fit in the eggs.

3. What's in the egg?: If you look hard enough, you can easily find things to place inside the egg. You can then teach vocabulary with the things that are in the egg. The child will have fun opening the eggs to see what is inside. It is important to pace the child, so that they only open one egg at a time and focus on the object inside. Some things I have placed inside the eggs have been: play money, little animal figures, a beaded necklace, plastic rings, pom-poms, small dinosaur, etc. Children have really enjoyed this activity with me in sessions. Again, anything small enough to fit in the eggs will require strict supervision, and this shouldn't be done with kids who frequently put things in their mouths.

4. Spatial Concepts: By placing eggs in different positions, you can teach many different spatial concepts. You can show the child the spatial concepts ("I'm putting this one in the basket." "I'm putting this one under the basket.") to teach them the concepts. You can "test" the child by telling them where to put the eggs by telling them to put it in/out/on/on top/under/next to/behind/in front of a basket, container, or chair.

5. Counting: This is sort of obvious. Count the eggs! If your child isn't counting very far, then count to 3 over and over with the eggs. If they can go higher, count higher. To make it harder, you can tell the child you hid 5 eggs. Count them out as they find them.

6. Following directions: Use the eggs to work on following 2 and 3 step directions. Examples of 2 step directions: Get the egg, and put it in the basket. Pick up an egg and bring it to me. Go to the couch and find the egg. Examples of 3 step directions: Go to the chair, get the egg, and put it in your basket. Find the egg, put it in your basket, and then come to me. Stand up, get the egg, and come back here.

7. Speech Sound Targeting: If your child is working on a specific sound like p or k, then you can put some things inside the egg that have the target sound for your practice. For instance, if you are doing initial /k/ words, you can put the following things inside the eggs: candy, key, cat, "K," kid, car, etc. If you can't find objects small enough to fit in the egg, then use stickers or find pictures of these objects from Clipart or magazines to stuff in the eggs.

8. Shakers: Fill those plastic eggs with items to turn them into shakers. You can use items that will create a soft noise and some that will create a loud noise so that you can compare items and teach those adjective words. Make sure you secure the egg shut with packing or duct tape so they won't spill out! To make a soft noisemaker, use pom-poms, rice, or gummy bears. For loud noisemakers, use rocks, beans, Legos, coins, and M&Ms. Add music to the activity and dance with these noisemakers as you remark on which ones are loud and soft.

9. Kitchen Fun: If you have pretend play kitchen items, add some plastic eggs to them. I love watching kids imitate me cracking the egg and pretending to cook them. This will work on pretend play, play imitation, and actions (crack, stir, cook, eat, cut).

10. High/low: Without the child present, you can hide eggs up high and down low. As they find the eggs, you can remark on the eggs that are low and up high. The ones that are up high will also create an opportunity for the child to ask for help since they will most likely need you to pick them up and help them get the egg.

Well, now you know what to do with all of those eggs sitting around. Have fun!

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

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