Monday, January 25, 2016

Lets talk Toys

I'd like to talk toys in this post. I'm a kid at heart, so one of my favorite things about being a school-based SLP is that I get to play. The truth is that if you're choosing materials correctly, your students will be having so much fun playing they won't even know that they are learning. So when it comes to developing language in preschool children I find that imaginative play sets can't be beat. I'm talking about doll houses, farms, zoos, train sets etc... Playing with toys like these make it so easy to target many expressive language goals simultaneously; vocabulary, basic concepts, sentence expansion, requesting, the list goes on. Another great thing about playing with toys is seeing the joy on my student's faces when they find out they are going to get to get to play for the second half of the session. I typically set up these sessions so that "play time" is the reward for good behavior during the first half of the session where we generally read a book. Little do they now that they are still learning ;).
This brings me to my new favorite toy, Melissa and Doug Reusable Sticker Pads. You'd be hard pressed to find a 3 or 4 year old that doesn't love playing with stickers. I have a few different sets of these sticker pads, and while the trains and diggers in the vehicle set are really popular with my kiddos I'm really loving the play-house set. The play-house reusable sticker pad has 5 different scenes; a play-ground, kitchen, bathroom, living room and a bedroom with matching reusable plastic stickers. These scenes are all great for learning basic household vocabulary and working on pronouns and verbs. I typically have my students take turns choosing the sticker they want and then we describe what the sticker is doing in the scene. (ex. "It's my turn","I want the girl", "She is cooking eggs on the stove"). You can get some great language while kids are having fun!

Another plus for this play set over a traditional doll house is portability. You can just stick these sticker pads in a bag and go, perfect for a traveling therapist. And all those fine motor skills needed for pinching off stickers makes me think that our OT friends might like this toy as well. The sticker sets are also totally affordable at under $5 a pop and I've actually seen them even cheaper at target. With those prices you can afford to buy two sets for a barrier game to target higher level expressive and receptive language skills, such as describing and following directions. If you're not sure what a barrier game is follow the link to a Super Duper Publication's Handy Handout for more info.

However, there is one big thing that I really don't like about Melissa and Doug stickers and it is that they tend to perpetuate gender stereotypes. For example, there are very few boy stickers available in the house scenes, a shame since most of my students are boys. The dress up sticker set is all girls in frilly dresses so I'm not buying that one. I would love to be able to work on clothing with that set if only boy stickers were available and the girls were allowed to wear pants. The same goes for Mellisa and Doug's normal sticker books. I bought a sticker book filled with pictures of children playing sports and there was not one picture of a girl playing anything. Now while it's great that Melissa and Doug have so many fabulous educational toys, the reinforcement of outdated gender stereotypes is really not necessary.

Welcome to my new blog

Hello and welcome to my new blog! It's been a very long time since I've blogged. I stopped precisely around the time grad work for my master's degree became too intense all the way back in 2010. I love to write so I'm back baby! This blog is for speech-language pathologists and others who have a penchant for helping people become better communicators including parents of children with speech and language disorders. I work in a Northern Virginia Public School so my focus is with children, pre-school through 5th grade. I hope you enjoy your visit!