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When I began making a list of items I wanted to get for my son Landon’s Easter basket, I found myself thinking how each one would help with speech and language development. Come on, I’m an SLP after all! I’ll find a new toy or item I really like and say to myself, “What speech/language goals can I target with this?” I’m sure many of you do the same thing!
So that’s how this entire post came about! Whether you are a parent or speech pathologist working with infants, toddlers, or preschoolers, I hope this blog post can help give you ideas for Easter Basket Stuffers (or even just a few new items you may want around the house or in your therapy room!).
Now on to the fun part. Here is my list of items I personally will be getting (or have already gotten). I also included developmental skills that each item can target.
Kids of ALL ages enjoy puzzles and they are certainly a staple in my speech room. They can be used to target plenty of goals and increase so many developmental skills. Although my son Landon is still a little young for puzzles, I went ahead and purchased a few anyway. I can’t help myself when it comes to Melissa & Doug toys and games. Their products are so functional, unique, durable, and eye-catching! I can not wait to see how Landon reacts the first time we “play” with a puzzle together! The ones I picked up are: Melissa & Doug The Deluxe 10-Piece Magnetic Fishing Game, Melissa & Doug Deluxe Fish Bowl Jumbo Knob Puzzle, and See-Inside Alphabet Peg Puzzle.
I am also a BIG FAN of floor puzzles! What child doesn’t like getting on the floor and playing?! I love The Learning Journey Puzzle Doubles Giant ABC & 123 Train Floor Puzzle.
So how can you use puzzles with your little ones to boost speech and language development? Have your child name the pictures/items, colors, and numbers as he/she picks up a piece. Take it a step further and why not work on functions, animal sounds, and “wh” questions.
Developmental skills: Hand/eye coordination, fine motor skills, basic concepts, problem solving, memory, part/whole relationships, vocabulary, and imagination.
Harmonicas, shakers, play piano, drums, OH MY! Think of the endless possibilities that can happen with musical instruments. My nephew (who is almost two years old) has been going to music class for the past year. I recently brought my son Landon to one of his classes, and needless to say, we are signed up to start in April! At first I was thinking 6 months old is way too young to attend classes, but boy was I wrong! Oh PS…the music class is taught by a Speech Therapist!! SO AWESOME!! I actually did a little research and found a website that does an amazing job of explaining the collaboration between music and speech. Check it out HERE! Of course you don’t need to actually attend a music class to reap the benefits. Why not pick up a few instruments to use with your little one at home? I really like the B. Parum Pum Pum Drum set and the Melissa & Doug Band in a Box.
Developmental skills: Oral motor skills, articulation, expanding utterances, vocabulary, turn taking, following directions, listening skills, and breath control.
STICKERS AND STICKER PADS
I LOVE STICKERS! I use them in speech therapy as rewards and in crafts, barrier games, and MORE! One of the best things about them is that they are inexpensive. You can find them at any of your craft stores (AC Moore, Michaels, Hobby Lobby), dollar tree, target, etc. Over the summer I purchased the **Habitats Reusable Sticker Pad and Play House! Reusable Sticker Pad** from Melissa & Doug (told you I LOVE their stuff). You can get them for about 5 bucks a piece! Such a super deal!
Developmental skills: Categorizing, hand/eye coordination, object/picture identification, vocabulary, fine motor skills, following directions, comprehension, describing, creativity/imagination, and problem solving.
There are two types of books that I totally love for children: Board books and tactile books. Board books are awesome because your little one can’t tear the pages! Tactile books allow children to touch and feel different textures (soft, rough, bumpy). I am buying my son the board book, First 100 Words, for Easter. While searching for books I also came across the Sassy Look Photo Book. It holds 8 photos and has an easy to grasp handle making it perfect for your child’s little hands. Lastly, I am loving the Lamaze Cloth Books! They have bright colors, peek-a-boo flaps and different textures.
Developmental skills: Fine motor skills, cause and effect, object permanence (just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there!), teaching body parts, shapes, animals, colors, food, clothing, etc., number awareness, “wh” questions, and vocabulary.
I had to include this adorable picture of my son “reading his very first book”! haha!
I found this awesome set of sensory balls while searching around on Amazon (I’m ALWAYS browsing for things on Amazon). It’s called the Sassy Developmental Sensory Ball Set. They have a variety of textures, bold colors, and rattle beads to stimulate hearing. Roll the ball to your child to engage in turn taking. Ask your child to roll or pass you the ball to work on requesting. Oh, and don’t forget how easy it is to work on building vocabulary while playing with a ball (throw, pass, catch, etc.).
Bubbles=FUN! They are fascinating and inexpensive! Oh yes, and they can be used to help with teaching sounds, turn taking, eye contact, and more!! Check out my blog post from last January to read all about the amazing ways to use bubbles to expand your child’s speech and language skills. My favorites are: No-Spill Bubble Tumbler (YES, SPILL PROOF BUBBLES!!) and Crayola Outdoor Colored Bubbles.
BATH AND MAGNETIC LETTERS
Depending on the age of your child, you may be thinking he/she is “too young” for letters. But…think about this…your little one can “play” with the letters which eventually will be useful in letter recognition then making words then sentences then reading…see where this is going?! I am a big fan of the Munchkin bath letters and numbers and Melissa & Doug Magnetic Letters. Ok, so even if you aren’t ready to introduce letters to your child, how about using them just as “toys” to help with following directions? For example, “put this blue one above the red one” (oh, hello, prepositional concepts!) OR “can you hand mommy all the blue ones?” (Look at that..following directions AND color identification!). As you can see…the possibilities are endless!
I absolutely love doing art and craft projects with my preschoolers. We have made butterflies out of coffee filters, ladybugs out of paper plates, flowers for Mother’s Day out of cupcake liners, and more! Pinterest has tons and tons of ideas for art/craft projects. Pair an easy, inexpensive art project with a book and BOOM…speech and language development opportunities galore! Art supplies can be purchased from tons of places like AC Moore, Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, Target, Walmart, Amazon, etc. Some of my favorite supplies are: Crayola Washable Fingerpaints, Do A Dot Art Markers, Another AWESOME buy is the Giant Art Jar. It’s filled with multi-colored pom-poms, glitter pom-poms, pipe cleaners, feathers, and more.
Developmental skills: Basic concepts, asking/answering “wh” questions, following directions, nouns, verbs, articulation, turn taking, requesting, recognition (naming supplies), colors, creativity, and imagination.
STACKING RINGS, CUPS, AND TOYS
Stacking rings, cups, and toys are super attractive to toddlers. Not to mention how versatile and simple they are as well! I would say children as young as 6 months (maybe even younger!) can start playing with them. They can stack them up, put objects in them, talk about colors and sizes, count them, etc. I just purchased the Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Stack & Roll Cups to go in my son’s Easter basket. The Playgo My First Stacking Cups look really great as well.
Developmental skills: Basic concepts (colors, shapes, size), prepositional concepts (on, under, behind, top, bottom), counting, cause and effect, problem solving skills, and following directions.
Here are just a few extra items you may want to put in your child’s basket: Teething rings, mesh food feeders, sippy cups, soft tip spoons, kid friendly DVDs, puppets, and stuffed animals/toys.
I hope you all enjoyed this post! I really had a fun time writing it. I would love to hear about items that you may be including in your child or student’s Easter Basket!