Thursday, September 8, 2016

Therapy Tip-Using Crafts to Build Language

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

Using Crafts to Build Language

I love using simple crafts in my speech therapy sessions to work on language goals. I find it engaging for both me and the children as we change up our therapy routine. I primarily work with toddlers but crafts can be used with pre-school age or older children as well.

Dog puppet and a bee craft

One of my favorite sites to use to find craft ideas for toddlers I am working with is Even if something may be too difficult for toddlers, I can usually modify it to make it work. Sometimes, I look through my craft drawer and come up with a craft based upon the materials I have. Simple crafts are best, especially if you aren't sure of what the child's reaction will be. The craft itself isn't that important as long as it is simple enough for the toddler to complete in about 5-10 minutes or so.

Picnic basket from paper plates with food craft

Language goals addressed during craft time:
-Following directions is a main goal when doing a craft in therapy. Every step of the task is a direction to follow. For example, during the dog puppet craft I might walk the child through the task by saying: Choose 1 nose. Put glue on it. Flip it over. Now, pat it on to make sure it sticks. You can make it harder by giving a 2 step direction at once (Get the glue and put it right here.)
-Task completion is another big goal. This is really important for children who have an extremely short attention span or who get distracted easily. Having the child go through several steps of a craft to make something is a great way to address this problem.
-Concepts can also be addressed during crafts. Words like: top, bottom, side, 1, 2, blue, green, etc. can all be reinforced during crafts.
-Requesting items is another goal during crafts. You can have the child ask for a crayon or the glue stick in order for them to complete their craft.
-Depending on the craft, vocabulary can be addressed too. The picnic basket craft pictured above is an easy way to work on food vocabulary while completing a craft. I love using crafts for vocabulary building because the child can then continue talking about these words with their parent after I am gone.

Tips for using crafts:
-Be prepared!!! I always have all the materials ready to go and pre-cut before our sessions. Toddlers and scissors are generally scary together!
-Always have a model. I want the child to understand what they are doing and what they are creating. Having a completed craft for them to look at is an easy way to help them understand.
-Be alert. After I do a craft with a child a few times, they generally know not to eat the glue. Still, it's important not to put the glue or anything within their reach that you aren't ready for them to have.

There are many ways to functionally work on language development. That is what I hope to stress during some of my Therapy Thursday posts. Now, go get crafting!!

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

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