Sunday, May 22, 2016

Build Better Speech and Language Skills with Blocks!

Wow! We had such a fun week using blocks to build better speech and language skills! Blocks are a toy that most people have at home in one form or another. We have lots of blocks apparently! We have small wooden blocks, large wooden blocks, foam blocks, Duplo blocks, some kind of blocks I can't really explain with lots of little bumps on them, Jenga-style blocks, a block game and buckets of Legos.

Some of these ideas can be used with any of the blocks and some are more specific to what's on the blocks. Find some ideas that work with what you have!

Pick A Block!

Almost all of my activities involve having a child reach into the bag and pull out a block. The mystery of not knowing what you are going to get makes it fun not matter what the task is! I have a large cotton bag that holds my large wooden blocks nicely! The object of this game is to close your eyes and get a block! Pretty easy! Then we do different things with the blocks once they have been picked!

ABCs & 123s!

We worked on naming the letters or the numbers on the blocks. You could do letter-sound correspondence where the kiddo would say the sound that the letter represents. I'd ask "when your eyes see this (show the letter), your mouth says -" and then wait for him to make the sound. Sometimes we create castles or houses or super tall towers! This kiddo wanted to make a tall wall! For some of speech kiddos we would name a word that started with that sound and if we got a number block we would say a word that number of times!

Super Speech Practice

We had a list of speech sound words that needed to be practiced. We would say the words the number of times as the first number we saw on a block. This is an important rule for the 9/6 blocks! And some of the blocks have two numbers on them. So the rule was, what ever number you see first is the number of times you say it. For older kiddos, it can be a competition! We made towers out of our blocks and after we had each gotten 5 blocks we added up our points to see who "won" the game. In all reality, the child wins because he gets lots of practice saying his sounds correctly!

 Tongue Thrust Practice with a Twist!

Swallowing therapy is not always the most exciting therapy I do! It can be frustrating and difficult. We made it more fun this week by pulling out blocks with numbers on them and then practicing swallowing skills that number of times.

Imagine That!

We used blocks to create fun situations that we could not normally have in therapy. I'd love to actually roast marshmallows with a child but big fires in preschools are not usually approved! However, we created a fireplace with a roaring fire for our "baby" and we roasted away! I try to choose 3-5 target words that my kiddo is working on and then use those words 20-40 times each while we play. So, this kiddo was working on "f" and we had "fire," "find/found" and "fun." So our sentences sounded like "get some fire. Found some fire. Found more fire. I need more fire. Do you see fire? Get the fire! Move the fire. Be careful baby, that fire is hot! Move the baby away from the fire!" and so on!!

Colors! (or sorting by category)

Some blocks are super colorful and can be sorted by color! We pulled out the blocks one at a time and sorted them, talking about their colors! This can be done with many different kinds of blocks! You could even sort by the number of dots on Legos or some other category you find on your blocks!!

He Blocks-She Blocks!

We used blocks to work on pronouns! I have worked with many children who need practice with the pronoun "she!" Here is a fun way to practice "he" and "she." Pull out a block and decide who should get it. They can take turns (good for social skills!) or you can sort by toys who ever your child thinks should get it. You can also add "I" and "you" by having your child give blocks to himself and you! We said "She has an egg. She has a xylophone. She has a pear." You could also work on "her" and "his." "That is his ball. Those are his socks. Those are his candies!"

Block Head! Game

I love this game. It is a staple in my therapy supplies! I love the different colors and shapes. Over the years we've added some random other blocks to it and we've lost some, so your game will look very different than mine!

Speech Practice: One of my favorite things to do with these pieces is to cover a page of speech sound pictures then as they remove the blocks they reveal the hidden picture below and have to say what the picture is practicing their words!

Location Concepts: It's also a great game for practicing prepositions and giving directions "get the red square and put it on top of a yellow block." Or "tell me where I should put this purple one that looks like a 7?!"

Follow that Direction!

I don't know how many times I've played with these blocks and not realized that on one side of almost all of them there is a wall, a door or a window. They are perfect for setting up a little house or apartment scene! We worked on following directions like "put the window above the door" or "get the cat and put it at the back of the car" or "make the bee fly over the car while it says 'buzz!'" So fun!

No Blocks?!

Wait, what?!...there are some people who don't have blocks?! Alas, it's true! I had a family call and say they didn't have any blocks at home and wondered how to complete the speech homework that I had assigned. Enter: paper blocks! While they are not nearly as cool or fun as the real, wooden or foam version, they serve the purpose. On these little paper blocks we wrote numbers on the other side, then the kiddo turned one over and we practiced our speech sounds that number of times. You can use the paper blocks to make patterns or designs on the table. And these would be great to keep in your wallet to pull out at a restaurant and play a quick game to practice speech while you wait! You could even do a little competition to see who gets the most points before the drinks arrive or dinner is served! Pulling out a big box or bag of blocks is just not very practical in all locations so this is a great stand in!!

I hope that you have been inspired to grab some of your blocks, dump them out or hide them in a bag and play with your child! Above all, while its great to practice speech and language skills, use the opportunity for uninterrupted time to play and talk with your child! There are so many communication skills that you will help to develop by interacting with your child!

Go Play!!

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