Last week I presented some gross-body movement type exercises to work on speech with your child. Have you had the chance to try any of them? I hope so! This week, I’d like to bring you inside a story book and show you just how efficient they can be in getting your child to practice speech sounds and improve her vocabulary. Plus, it just might be fun for you, too!
We all know that books can open a whole new world of imagination, but they can also help open a whole new world of speech. Here are some ideas of using books, magazines and catalogs you already have on hand to get some word practice in for your child.
1–Vacation Time. What you Need: Nothing! What you do: Pretend you are going on a trip to the beach. Ask your child to help you “pack.” Have them make suggestions by giving prompts, “We wear this when we go swimming,” or “So we don’t get sunburned, we will need to bring ____.” Throw in a couple of silly items that you (and they) know won’t be going in your suitcase to the beach. Try “going” on a vacation to the mountains next. Why Bother: It’s a fun way to pass the time if you are waiting, develops vocabulary, word associations, target sounds, and critical thinking skills, too. Other Resources You Might Consider: Smart Kids makes a cool double-sided flip chart entitled, “Where are you going? What would you take?” ($11). In it are colorful pictures of various vacation destinations…beach, jungle, camping, skiing, airport, etc. It’s a great resource to prompt your child with situations that stimulate early speaking, listening and language skills. Look for it at www.smartkids.co.uk or www.janellepublications.com
Equipment: Picture books or real art work at home or around town. Try these books: “Can You Find it Inside” and “Can You Find it Outside?” (Jessica Schulte). They’re great little hardcover art appreciation books for kids in which you search and discover famous pieces of art based on rhyme-style clues in the book. What you do: Study the pictures/illustrations/art and ask your kid questions about what’s happening. Together, you can create a story. “Who lives here?” Why do you think he’s sad?” For less verbal kids, just identifying what you—the adult– sees in the picture can be helpful. The more you talk, the more they learn. Why Bother: Exposure to new media and styles of art is great, increases observational skills/attention to detail and encourages story-telling (aka talking!)
3—A Picture is Worth a 1000 Words. Equipment: Magazine, scissors, glue and kid What you do: Cut out magazine pictures of things your kid is interested in—people, places, things like toys and food. Try to make the picture of a single object, say pizza on one card, a grandma on another, etc. Then glue the images to a note card or construction paper. When you have a sizeable amount (it will vary based on your kid’s age, attention span and verbal ability), arrange them on the floor and use the pictures as prompts, create a story out of it. Variation: Rip just one picture/photo from the magazine, but this time make sure there’s some activity going on. Ask your child to tell you about it. Where are the people going, what are they eating, are they happy or sad? What other things can you think to ask them about? What can they ask you about the picture? Why Bother: While this loosely targets sequencing skills (see below), it stirs the creative juices, develops story-telling, and gets your kid talking about things he’s interested in.
4–Folding Fun. Equipment: Kumon Fold and Cut workbook for preschool (most places that carry books, around $6). What you do: Pick a few activities from the book—they are self-explanatory or have simple directions—and do them together with your child. Then quiz her on what you are doing. For example, one activity is a picture of a little boy smiling. When you open the folded part he’s crying. You could ask your child to say “smile” (works on those /S/ blends) and then say, “Cry(ing)” Ask other questions, too—“Why is he happy?” Even if your child answers with “I don’t know” (or some variation of—as long as it’s verbal), it still counts! Why Bother: Fun, engaging, and 1:1 time with a parent. The activities are varied and can be used just about anywhere. Keep a Kumon workbook in your car or bag and see where it takes you.
5–The Big Book of Exclamations. What you need: “The Big Book of Exclamations” (2008, Chatterbox Books, Inc) by Teri K. Peterson, SLP in pediatric practice for over 23 years. What you do: Look at it with your child. The deal with this book is you aren’t supposed to read it like a traditional story book. The captivating illustrations give your child lots of opportunity to practice speech words and sounds in a fun, non-threatening way. It’s filled with lots of ideas for parents to prompt and encourage their children’s speech. Why Bother: If you’re a bookworm-type parent then you’ll find this is a fun way to bond with your child while sneaking in speech practice. Check out Ms. Peterson’s website for more information. www.TheBigBookofExclamations.com
6—Auditory Bombardment. What you need: a list of words beginning with the same sound (a target sound for your child). For example, 16 words begining with a /K/ or hard /C/….coat, cane, cage, kick, camp, kite, court, cup, cut, cab, card, cone, king, kid, kiss, key. What you do: While your kiddo is sitting at the breakfast table (or any other meal), playing quietly in the sandbox, or any another quiet moment, read over the list several times slowly and clearly. Read the list a couple of times a day. It will only take you a minute or two to get through the words. Add a Variation: Have your child search through magazines and catalogs looking for items on the list. Make a collage. On a silly note, I used to make up stories about the words on the page…”The kid kicked the cat’s cage and then kissed the king.” Why Bother: Your kid will hear that beginning letter sound over and over and eventually begin to internalize it so that it becomes easier to plan and say on his own.
7–Magic Words. What you need: Good manners. What you do: Model those “magic words” wherever you go. As a parent, the more often you do this in the presence of your children, the more likely they will be to do the same. Think: babysitter, grocery clerk, the person who holds the elevator for you. Easier said than done, especially with our apraxic kids, but it’s sort of like the auditory bombardment idea above…they hear it so many times, they eventually “get it.” As a parent, you’ll need to exaggerate the words and get them to look in the person’s eyes and say it (even an approximation) right after you say it. There’s magic to modeling—it works best if you remember thank your kids for the small things, too. “Thank you for playing so nicely with your sister. Thank you for taking your plate to the sink. Thank you for getting buckled up so quickly in the car.” Why Bother: Our apraxic kiddos may not be able to say much, but it’s no excuse for not being polite. Explain that a thank you makes people feel good and when people feel good, they may help you again in the future. Watch folks smile when your kid uses manners, even if it is just an approximation.
8—Act it out. What you need: Nothing. What you do: Got an active kid? Need him to say some words? Think Charades with a therapy twist. Whatever your child is struggling with in therapy, bring it home and get creative. Let’s say the tricky sound is /J/ (typically a very tricky one) and you can turn that into a jump-a-thon at home. Say it, do it. Another tricky one is the /ST/ blend…”stage” is a word you might work on by building a small platform like a stage (or finding a place in your home that resembles a stage…a hearth perhaps?) Your little performer will appreciate this one. Act out the word “push,” exaggerate the /P/ sound. Have your child bring in a grocery bag (with child-appropriate heaft). Say, “It’s heavy. So heavy. Can you say ‘heavy?’” Exaggerate the /H/ sound. “Can you say, ‘ha-ha?’” Why Bother: It’s a fun way to entertain and engage (whole-body) kids with their speech practice. It shows them you are serious about their interests/activities and that you have “found” a way to incorporate them at home. Plus, it might help you get some household chores done!
9—Book Talk. What you need: Picture books your child likes. What you do: Read with your child. The caveat: let your child interrupt. Allow lots of time for a reading session and remember, you don’t have to read everything on the page. Study the pictures together and ask wh- questions (who-what-when-where-why), and see what she can come up with. You might just start by pointing out the items in the picture. You could give choices if your child has a hard time spontaneously identifying objects, “Is this a umbrella or a boot?” When you ask what a character is doing in the book you’ll get an answer that works on action words and the –ing sound…running, walking, jumping, washing. You can expand this and say, “Show me running,” and allow your child to run around the room once or twice and finish the exercise by saying, “Run!” Why bother: Besides facilitating language development and introducing new vocabulary words, you are engaging in what experts call dialogic reading. It’s reading as though you were having a conversation…stopping to discuss pictures, new words, and identifying feelings and emotions of the characters. The key with dialogic reading is to read with expression and enthusiasm.
10—Show and Tell. What you need: a nifty little item you want to talk about (your new iPhone or a cool new cooking gadget) with your kids, perhaps at the dinner table. What you do: Instead of your child being the center of attention with their favorite item, it’s you who gets to show and tell. Generally, us grown-up have cooler and more complicated stuff than our little ones, plus you’ll expose him to new words like “[app]lication, download, or garlic press and nutcracker.” Then allow your child to show and tell one of his favorite items. Why bother: Your kid is likely familiar with the game from school, so you are expanding on that knowledge by introducing him to more vocabulary. Plus, it helps with the see it-touch it-learn-it learners our little ones tend to be.
Pick a couple of ideas this week and see where it gets you. Remember, kids with apraxia need lots of opportunities to practice their words and sounds, plus they need a really supportive and patient caregiver who can coach them along. Tomorrow, I will talk up a musical performance we attended (And yes–music helps our young apraxics, too) Enjoy!