During the holiday season, as therapists, we are often asked what toys or games parents should buy for their children. And while we maintain that everyday interactions and/or using things you already have at home are the best teaching tools… we do still have our favourite therapy toys ;)
So- we asked our staff to share their top picks and have compiled the answers below:
“Any of the pop up games (my latest favourite is Shark Bite). They are great for articulation therapy and the kids love them“
~ Sarah Watson | Speech-Language Pathologist
"Happy Bunny is a sweet board game that promotes cooperation, social play skills, size concepts and the ability to compare/contrast"
~ Jill McDermid | Speech-Language Pathologist
“The play kitchen, pots and pans, and toy food. I use them to engage in pretend play; to teach verbs like stir, mix, chop; and to teach prepositions like in and on”
~ Jessica Bristol | Speech-Language Pathologist
“The game Greedy Granny. Besides being hilarious, it is great to work on turn-taking, and the /k/ or /g/ sounds, which so many kids have a hard time with (e.g., cookie, cracker, granny, go, pick, take). As long as your child is okay with pop-up games, it’s a great toy that always gets parents, kids, and me laughing (or screaming)!”
~ Christina Venier | Speech-Language Pathologist
“Ned's head is wonderful for articulation therapy (I hide items in it that start with the sound I'm working on). It is also great for helping children learn to comment and to increase their utterance length (e.g., "I found...." etc.) Another favourite of mine is Bed Bugs, where I switch the bugs out for articulation objects. Lastly, I love to use ‘active games’ tied into therapy goals such as bowling, golfing and basketball.”
~ Erica Matthews | Communicative Disorders Assistant
“One of my favourite therapy toys is Pop the Pig because there are so many occupational therapy goals that can be achieved with this single game. The child is able to work on their fine motor grasp (i.e. pincer grasp), hand-eye coordination (i.e. picking up the object and inserting it into the correct slot), visual perceptual scanning, targeting, and figure foreground (i.e. being able to locate the specific colour amongst the variety of others), turn taking, school readiness (i.e. colour and number identification), upper body/ core strength (i.e. hand/arm strength to target and push the hat down to grow the belly), following sequential directions, sensory play: proprioception/ heavy work (gives the nervous system input on the position of muscles, joints and tendons – i.e. practice grading the amount of pressure being used to push hat of pig), etc. – all of the above skills are able to be targeted in a fun and interactive way.
~ Alana-Rae Saunders | Occupational Therapist
“I use Mr. Potato head everyday as a therapist. It is wonderful for teaching a child to follow directions (e.g., 'Put in the nose, then the feet'), label body parts, take-turns with others, make verbal requests for specific pieces, answer questions (e.g., 'What does he need so he can smell?'), play pretend, and so much more”
~ Stephanie Zawalicz | Speech-Language Pathologist
"The Melissa and Doug Doorbell House!I love it because it can be used in so many ways; you can put anything behind the doors and kids are always excited to open each one to see what's inside. Because of this, you can elicit so much language with it. I use it to target language goals such as prepositions, increasing utterance length, and I also use it for articulation goals."
~ Paula Bulux | Communicative Disorders Assistant
And while we may use many different toys in therapy to keep things fresh and exciting, this holiday season, just remember that YOU are your child’s best toy and learning tool- no matter what you use to engage them!
Wishing you a playful December filled with warmth, & happiness.
Happy Holidays from Aurora Speech Clinic!