Apraxia Monday
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Hands-on, no art skills needed, Claynguage is a multi-sensory approach designed by a semi-retired, school-based SLP, Hinda Rubin, to elicit language development with…clay

By Leslie Lindsay

A multi-sensory clay-based–and evidence-based!–approach to speech-language therapy.




Special Guest: Hinda Rubin

Merging Pottery Skills with
Language Development

I am so delighted to welcome the lovely and talented Hinda Rubin, CCC-SLP to the Apraxia Monday Series. Hinda first trained as a medical SLP. As a school-based SLP, she provided evidence-based speech and language therapy to help improve articulation, receptive and expressive language skills, pragmatic language skills, auditory processing skills, fluency and voice.

But she’s also a ceramicist, Bubby (aka Grandma), loves reading, exercising, and crafting. She believes that children need to see parents balance work and family while making family a priority. Sharing Claynguage with them, as well as with the children in a variety of daycares and preschools, is truly a passion.

A bit about Claynguage:

Claynguage activities were founded in an art classroom and provide a meaningful, fun, and naturalistic context in which children learn new words and improve speech and language skills. Claynguage® is guided by several evidence-based strategies used by speech-language pathologists to enhance children’s language skills. Specifically, SLPs, parents and teachers, too, expand children’s vocabulary size and diversity while also exploring a fun art medium, creativity, adult-child bonding, and more. Plus, like clay, it’s all quite adaptable, created to assist adult caregivers working with children at home, in school, or other clinics.

I think my daughter, Kate, now almost sixteen with mostly resolved CAS, would have loved this multi-sensory approach to language development. She adores art and creating and I am wondering where Hinda was all those years ago.


 Please join me in welcoming the lovely and talented Hinda Rubin to the author interview series:

Leslie Lindsay:

Hinda, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us about Claynguage. I love how it brings in speech and language development, creativity, multisensory aspects, and more. It’s a little like speech therapy meets OT meets art. Can you tell us a little about how this program was developed? What was the seed of inspiration?

 Hinda Rubin, MS CCC-SLP:

Thank you, Leslie, for this particularly special opportunity!! I am so honored! Claynguage developed as I was trying to figure out the best way  to help students achieve their speech and language goals in the classroom setting using a “push-in” approach. Over the years, I collaborated and co-taught with teachers as we covered a variety of subjects. In the art classroom, as students were seated around tables with the opportunity to shift their focus onto something tangible, communication flowed more naturally and this environment offered multiple opportunities to work on communication. Perhaps it is because everyone is seated around tables and the focus shifts to something tangible – something else.

I will never forget what happened the day after a highly successful collaborative activity in an art classroom.  It might not sound like a big deal to the average person, but I discovered a pyramid of clay on my desk.  Unbeknownst to me, it was placed there by a mystery supporter- the school principal! That inspired me beyond words and the memory brings happy tears to my eyes.

“My 5-year-old son has loved playing and learning with Hinda’s Claynguage activities. The conversation prompts give us lots to talk about as he plays with the clay to create objects and scenes of what we discuss. My older daughter has joined in numerous times as well! It really gave us all a fun, sensory way to work on some of our language and communication skills – thumbs up all around! ”

— Sarah Pritzker, CEO, Pritzker Editorial

Leslie Lindsay:

Just to clarify, this program is working hands-on with clay to create shapes, and objects while working to elicit speech sounds/words/phrases/sentences with children? And can anyone do it? What special tools might be needed? Also, what if I’m not ‘artistic?’

Hinda Rubin, MS CCC-SLP:  

Yes, this program offers opportunities to work hands-on with different types of clay(e.g., stoneware, air dry), pottery tools and  items from the environment (e.g., kitchen gadgets, plastic toys).  Whether the goal is to improve production of sounds/syllables/words, expressive language skills or pragmatic language skills or learn new vocabulary words, the clay, materials and step-by-step activity plans are easy to follow and importantly, adaptable. The introduction includes information about working with clay so that any beginner is ready to roll.  The activity plans include real pictures that serve as step-by step directions.  Professionals can use the plans as written, (thinking new professionals!) as well as adapt them (thinking experienced professionals) to the needs of their population.

There is a home version for parents and grandparents too.

Basic items and special tools needed to begin include clay, pottery tools, a canvas cloth and your imagination.

The pottery tools and new and different types of clay work as great reinforcers.

No worries if you are not artistic!  It’s Interesting to note that, there seems to be a debate as to whether ceramics is an art, craft, or hobby.

I have observed adolescents, adults and especially toddlers handle clay for the very first time and be actively engaged. I like to call it the “pottery panacea” because it leads to impressions for expression.


Leslie Lindsay:

One of the key phrases we hear a lot these days is ‘evidenced-based practice,’ and I know Claynguage is; it’s based on the six principles of language development. Can you briefly describe what those are?

Hinda Rubin, MS CCC-SLP: 

The idea is to actively engage children with multiple opportunities to hear language in meaningful contexts. Repeated presentations of auditory stimuli such as words for events and things that interest them and diverse examples of words and language, can help put these principles into practice.

“Six Principles of Language Development: Implications for learners of English as a second language.” Developmental Neuropsychology (390 5, 404-420.)  Konishi, H., Kanero, J., Freeman, M. R., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. M.

Leslie Lindsay:

Like you, I completely appreciate a good theme. And it seems all of your lesson plans hinge on just that. For example, you have plans involving travel, puzzles, shapes, spiders (ew!), Thanksgiving, summer, even sandals! Now, since it’s spring, I am also intrigued with hiking and what the great outdoors can teach us. Can you give us an example of how these lessons work?

Hinda Rubin, MS CCC-SLP:

Each themed activity has five sections.

  • Overview and Purpose. This section includes strategies used to enhance language development. For example, in the hiking activity, children can create footprints on slabs of clay (animal footprints too!) and then compare and contrast footprints. Strategies that can be implemented in any of the 25 activities include language scaffolding; parallel talk, focused stimulation, recasting and more. During focused stimulation which can also be referred to as “auditory bombardment”, one can think of themselves as a sports commentator verbalizing a play-by-play description of all the action observed. 
  • Suggested Materials. For the hiking activity, suggested materials include four slabs of clay, step stools, canvas cloth, plastic animals, magnifying glass and wooden pottery tools.
  • Set Up. Ideas are provided based on experience with the activities. For the hiking activity, draping canvas over step stools leads to a hike like no other!
  • Divergent Discussion. Includes open-ended questions related to the theme. Whether discussing hiking on mud, sand or grass with younger kids or asking older students what it means to “take a hike”, you are bound for an all new adventure!
  • Clay in Motion. Includes step-by-step easy to follow instructions with real photos.
father with his children at a park

Photo by Elly Fairytale on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

I love how your plans have sections for ‘divergent discussions.’ For example, in your puzzle theme, you might have a chat about what ‘being puzzled’ means. Maybe you make puzzle pieces out of clay or put together a mass-produced jigsaw puzzle. What more can you tell us about this concept?

Hinda Rubin, MS CCC-SLP:  

The questions in the divergent discussion section are open-ended and have a variety of answers-there is not one “right’ answer.  The basic premise is to make children feel comfortable communicating their ideas in order to help create and benefit from a language rich environment.  Words with multiple meanings are also an important feature of Claynguage because it is an essential part of the school’s curriculum.  Claynguage activities can be helpful when teaching figurative language too.  Adolescents can have a laugh creating boots out of clay as they discuss the meaning of “boot up” “shaking in your boots” etc.

toddler sitting on person s lap while person sitting also on tree trunk

Photo by Lela on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

Since many folks tuning in to our chat are parents of children with apraxia, can you share a few tips or ideas on working with them at home with clay?

Hinda Rubin, MS CCC-SLP:

As you mention in your book “Speaking of Apraxia,” people learn differently– kids with CAS often do best when using their hands and bodies to learn. Claynguage activities offer constant hands-on experiences.

  • To help facilitate and improve comprehension, offer opportunities to make a favorite item out of clay after listening to a favorite book to help make connections.
  • Phonemic awareness- spell a 3 letter word with clay and only change the first or final letter (day, say, way & him, hit, hid)
  • Sequencing skills- Discuss steps to be taken before and after a clay activity.
  • Auditory Bombardment-Take opportunities to act as a sports commentator. Comment over and over again on the child’s actions during clay activities. This offers more opportunity to practice specific words and sentences. While engaged, repeat words like squeeze, poke, pinch or pound the clay. Consider singing “This is the way we poke/pinch/pound the clay……. early in the morning/afternoon.”
blue jeans

Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

Hinda, thank you so much for all of this. I love your passion and creativity and I’m so pumped about this program. It’s really very unique. What three things can you not stop talking about right now? It doesn’t have to be about speech or clay. But if it is, that’s okay, too.

Hinda Rubin, MS CCC-SLP:

I cannot stop talking about how much I wish I had Instagram when I first started out as an SLP! How awesome is it to network with a group of SLP’s and shout out “I NEED HELP WITH A STUDENT!” I also cannot stop talking about my new neighbors. They have the same first names of my parents who passed away years ago. They share many of the same qualities and values as my parents and I feel they were sent by my parents to say: “Hey Hinda, we got your back!” Finally, I may not be saying this one out loud BUT, whether food is flying when the grandkids come over or sweeping up clay, I am so grateful. Bless this mess!

architectural design architecture brick wall bricks

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

For more information, to connect with Hinda Rubin, M.S.,CCC-SLP, or to purchase products related to Claynguage, please visit: 



Kate, pictured below, with her virtual art-show piece designed and constructed entirely from hand at home. Kate is 15 with (mostly) resolved CAS and she really loves working with clay and other hands-on art projects. 

IMG_3876-222x300ABOUT THE SLP: Hinda Rubin, M.S., CCC-SLP trained first as a medical and then school-based SLP. Her hospital training included teaching esophageal speech, treating stroke patients, and patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI). As a school-based SLP, she provided evidence-based speech and language therapy to students ages 3-22 to help improve articulation, receptive and expressive language skills, pragmatic language skills, auditory processing skills, fluency and voice. Experience included mentoring speech assistants,  diagnostic evaluations, and developing goals aligning with the Common Core Standards. Claynguage developed as a result of efforts to provide the best possible push-in services for students.  CPS principals and staff were receptive and supportive throughout.


Leslie Lindsay is the creator and host of the award-winning author interview series,“Always with a Book.” Since 2013, Leslie, named “one of the most influential book reviewers” by Jane Friedman, ranks in the top 1% of all GoodReads reviewers and has conducted over 700 warm, inquisitive conversations with authors as wide-ranging as Robert Kolker and Mary Kubica to Helen Phillips and Mary Beth Keane, making her website a go-to for book lovers world-wide. Her writing & photography have appeared in various print journals and online. She is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA: A Parents’ Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech. A former psychiatric R.N. at the Mayo Clinic, Leslie’s memoir, MODEL HOME: Motherhood, Madness, & Memory, is currently on submission with Catalyst Literary Management. Leslie resides in the Chicago area with her family.



#alwayswithabook #communication #phonologicalawareness #claynguage #SLPeeps #SLP #speechideas #speechtips #apraxia #apraxiaofspeech #apraxiaawareness #kids #speechactivities #clay #multisensory #speechtherapy 


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