Changing Colors: The Blog of Spectrum Pediatrics

Archive for the ‘Play’ Category

March 15, 2017

Technology Tuesday: Hello Spring

We found an app that we had to include in our “Everything Sprouts in Spring” series! The “Hello Spring: Preschool Games” mobile application is available on both your phone or iPad. This app is a great way to “Welcome Spring” with your child. The free version of this application allows you to explore the different things you may see out in nature when spring arrives. This includes growing trees, blossoming flowers, and a rabbit that helps guide your child around the screen. By using your finger to point to different areas on the screen, your child can help the rabbit feed baby birds, give water to the flowers, and help dig with a shovel to grow food in the garden. This is specifically designed for preschool and kindergarten children. For $2.99 you can buy in-app purchases that allow your child to design different animals (bees, birds, etc.), learn about where fresh produce comes from, and take care of baby birds to help them grow.

To learn more about the app or to purchase it click here!

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March 6, 2017

Trick of the Trade from Tracy Magee, MS, CCC-SLP

Blankets

This object is in everyone’s house, but it is not usually considered a great tool for learning – a blanket! Surprisingly, this item can provide lots of opportunities for language and movement. Here are a few ways we use a blanket at Spectrum Pediatrics:

1. Regulation – We all have our own unique ways to help ourselves cope with the sensory information that we are receiving in our daily lives. Swinging in a blanket is a great way to help calm a child that might be overwhelmed. The blanket creates a safe cocoon and the linear movement is very beneficial in helping a child overcome too much sensory input.

2. Movement – Kids can make the blanket into a parachute-type game with holding the corners and moving it up and down. Kids can have the blanket “pop” balls out the top or kids can go under the blanket when it rises up.

3. Language – A blanket can provide hours of entertainment for receptive (listening/comprehension) and expressive (speaking) language.

  • Receptive: Practice prepositions with a doll or other object. For example, “Hide the dog under to blanket, Put the doll on top of the blanket.” You can also work on following directions to play the parachute game (“Make the blanket go UP! Make the blanket go DOWN!”)
  • Expressive: Have your child hop on the blanket for a ride, and he/she must tell you where to go. (“Take a right, Go left, Take me to the kitchen!”) Try to work on the concepts of “fast” and “slow” while going for a ride.

These ideas are just the beginning! Talk to your therapist about other ways to use this simple object to create some wonderful learning opportunities!

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February 22, 2017

Tips for Improving Your Child’s Communication

At Spectrum Pediatrics, we often find ourselves talking to parents about small changes they can make during their daily routines to help build their child’s communication skills. Two of our speech therapists are sharing four of their all-time favorite tips for parents. Check out the video below to hear Jamie and Krystina discuss these tips and explain what makes them so important and how to build them into your everyday routine!

Stay posted for more helpful videos on tummy time and feeding behaviors at mealtimes!

February 6, 2017

Trick of the Trade from Tracy Magee, MS, CCC-SLP

Yoga

Lately, I have been doing yoga with many of my clients, and I have found that it has many benefits for speech and language. Here are a few reasons you should try with your kids today!

1. Attention and Imitation – These skills are necessary to develop verbal speech skills. A child needs to be able to look at someone and copy movements in order to copy lip movements and words.

2. Comprehension – A child must focus on the verbal instructions being given to follow along with the yoga “flow” and assume the correct positioning. This skill helps with processing language and learning new words.

3. Breath Control – Yoga focuses on breath. The deep breaths in and out that are required help a child learn how to control his/her breathing. This is important for controlling breath when producing sounds, too. Deep breaths are also a great way to help kids learn how to stay calm and “regulate” their bodies and emotions.

Some yoga resources that are great for kids are:

  • GoNoodle – available for FREE on their website or on the AppleTV app
  • Yoga Kids by Kirsten Hall
  • Once Upon a Mat… Starring Jessie Forston
  • The Kids’ Yoga Deck: 50 Poses and Games by Annie Buckley

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January 20, 2017

Trick of the Trade from Ashley Glasser, MS, OTR/L, CEIM

DIY Play Gyms

Out of all the toys and devices out there, especially for newborns and pre-crawlers, one of my favorites is a baby play gym or mat. They come in various shapes and sizes: colorful mats with two arches and multiple dangling toys or one simple wooden arch with two toys. No matter which one a parent chooses the benefits are endless. They help to promote cognitive skills, reaching and grasping, head turning, body turning, sensory stimulation, etc.

Recently I was working with a family where we decided the child would benefit from practicing overhead reaching so that he could strengthen his arms as he lifted them against gravity, in addition to working on the accuracy of his reach and expanding his play beyond mouthing (he could learn to bat, shake, turn, etc.). What better way to work on this than through the use of a play gym! Problem: the family doesn’t yet have a play gym. Solution: let’s create one!

If you haven’t purchased a play gym, don’t fret. A piece of string or rope tied between two pieces of furniture will do the trick for now! In the moment two adults sitting on couches facing each other worked just fine. A rattle was strung onto the string and the adults held the string over the baby while he laid on his back on the floor. Within seconds the baby immediately reached up for the rattle, batted at it, and pulled it down to his chest. Exactly what we wanted! A little ingenuity and the child is already developing new skills that will benefit him immensely.

Note that care should be taken in regards to what you decide to put on the string – be mindful of choking hazards for babies that are reaching and mouthing. And always monitor, but also have fun!

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December 18, 2016

Trick of the Trade from Jamie Hinchey, MS, CCC-SLP

Coloring Books

As a speech therapist, I often find myself working on various activities with children such as puzzles, reading books, or building blocks. Recently, I have been using coloring books in my therapy sessions and I have found that it is a great way to incorporate language and other goals! I start with having the child choose which page from the coloring book if this is a new activity for them. Once the child chooses a page, I will tape the coloring page to the table to eliminate the distraction of picking up the paper off of the table. Choosing one page also allows you to target attention as this will help the child focus on the one task that they are supposed to be working on. I will target receptive language skills by giving verbal or visual directions, depending on the child’s developmental level. For example, “Color the airplane blue and the little girl’s eyes brown”. If you have a younger child you can keep the directions more simple such as “Pick the purple crayon”. If you are working on expressive language goals, have your child comment on what they see in the picture or expand on their phrases when they label. For example if your child points and says “airplane”, expand with “Wow that airplane is in the sky”.

Our occupational therapists also love to use coloring books within therapy since this is a fun and simple way to target pencil/crayon grips for children of all ages. Although this is technically a fine motor task, if your child has trouble sitting in a chair or attending to one activity, use this in a visual schedule or have a timer available. This way, your child can complete the task, but also see what might be next or how much time is left. We often use large coloring pages, but a blank piece of paper is also fine to help build your child’s creativity!

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December 15, 2016

Feeding Friday: Holiday Food Play

Christmas is a season of celebration, gift giving, celebrating family and faith traditions, and food. For picky eaters, non-eaters, and those struggling with their weight, it can become so much about the food that everything else can be pushed aside. Here are a few other thoughts:

  • Giving food as gifts allows kids to see the nurturing side of food. This may be especially helpful for kids who have always found food to be a task.
  • Giving food that kids helped make or serve allows kids to feel pride in their work and get their hands dirty without the pressure to eat it, especially if it is for someone they like to please, such as a teacher or grandparent.
  • Making food platters or gifts is a good together time activity, while also preparing for a party or crossing a name off the shopping list. Making fun foods together allows children to be messy and creative without pressure to eat.
  • Making more than one type of food allows all foods to be seen as fun – fruits, vegetables, cookies and snack foods can all be fun, creative and festive without the pressure of “good food” or “bad food.” It is ok to have some of each, don’t feel pressured to make them all healthy, or all decadent.
  • The time together allows you to talk about what a “treat” it is to work together. Reminding both of you that not all “treats” are something you eat.
  • Making treats can target all kinds of strengths or areas that need help: touching new textures, cutting, rolling, sorting, making designs or patterns, picking up small objects, or counting. There are many ideas to cover each one of these skills.

Here are some ideas to get you started. Roll up your sleeves, clear an area that can get a little messy and have fun! For more resources on these fun food activities check out our Pinterest board here! For other sites with some helpful tips check out this website or here!

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December 2, 2016

Breaking Down Language: Part 3 “Tips and Tricks”

By: Brianna Craite, MS, CCC-SLP
  • We have reviewed the basics of expressive and receptive language and now it’s time for some tips and tricks!
  • Here are my three favorite strategies for building language.
  • You can use these tips and tricks to help you think of new ways to stimulate your little one’s language!

Narrating: Talking to your child as you go about your day, naming the objects and actions as they happen in real time. I like to think of this as a “sports commentator”, but instead of talking about a sports game you’re talking about your life. As your child gets older, your narrating can get more advanced. For example; at meal times you would name the food for your child “banana”. Eventually this narrating could advance to sentences “I want a banana, Mom”. This strategy provides language stimulation for both expressive and receptive skills. Your child first needs to listen to words before starting to use them independently. Don’t forget to add quiet times too! Narrating is great for language development, but quiet times provide your child with opportunities to try to use what they are hearing on their own.

Book Reading: Research supports the idea that early reading exposure leads to better language and literacy skills. Reading to your baby from an early age sets the routine around books, which eventually expands as your child gains attention and interest. If you’re having trouble getting your child interested in books try picture only books or books with interactive features like flaps to open. While your child interacts with books you can use the above tip of narrating to enhance book time. You can talk about the pictures or actions like “turn the page” or “the end”. Eventually, as your child gains more attention to books, you can ask them to find things in the pictures to work on their understanding of vocabulary. Once they can identify a picture by pointing or patting the picture, try adding a question “What is it?” to have them name the picture with a sound or word.

Check out this resource for more information on HOW and WHY books are an important part of a child’s development.

Novelty: New experiences, objects, and interactions can help to naturally build on language. Novelty provides you, as the caregiver, the opportunity to teach new skills that may be more interesting for your child to learn or provide additional challenge for them. Many of my families report success with their child developing new language skills while on family vacations, visits with new family members, or trying out a new playground. While routine proves to be one of the best ways children learn, it is also important for these new skills to be tested out in new ways and environments. Teaching vocabulary with a new toy (expressive), practicing familiar directions (receptive) in a new place (“Go get the ball” or “Throw this in the trash” allows practice for generalization of skills) , or working on greeting new people are some of my favorite activities (expressive).

If you missed part 1 or part 2 of our Breaking Down Language series see those posts here!

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November 28, 2016

Trick of the Trade from Brianna Craite, MS, CCC-SLP

Movement, Music, and Language

There is a lot of research explaining how children need to move more and sit less throughout their day. This recently made me re-think the way I am expecting children to learn while completing language activities. A little trick I started using is to incorporate movement and music during my language activities. When my kiddos are allowed to move a bit I have found that their ability to listen and learn improves. One particular song I like to practice with all my kiddos is “If you’re happy and you know it”. First, I start by singing the original lyrics to clap hands, stomp feet, say Hooray! Once a child can complete these tasks I like to add my own directions based on what we are working on. For example if we are working on body parts “If you’re happy and you know it touch your head.” For older children try a more complex direction like “If you’re happy and you know it give a thumbs up”. Try it out! See how incorporating movement and music with language development helps your little one!

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November 15, 2016

Trick of the Trade from Jamie Hinchey, MS, CCC-SLP

Go For an Adventure!

With the Fall weather in full swing, it is a good time to get outside with your child and do a fun activity before the cold weather comes! While talking with families about their weekend family adventures recently, I thought it might be helpful to talk about some ways to incorporate developmental goals while out and about. If you are thinking about taking a day trip somewhere, maybe into the city, or out for a hike, it is important to talk about this with your child before hand. Most children benefit from knowing what to expect, and when there is a change in routine, it can be helpful to briefly talk to your child about where you are going, who you are going with, and how you will get there. If you know your child benefits specifically from visuals, try finding a picture of where you are going to show them what to expect.

For the day of the trip, try to involve your child in the “packing”. This could help with building receptive language and following directions outside of your normal routine. Children love to help, so it could help you by giving each child a different job, such as bringing a bag out to the car, or putting their shoes on! On your way to this adventure, you can practice expressive language by labeling what you see or talking about what you are going to do when you get there. If you are on the metro or somewhere else that might be loud, this could be a great opportunity to practice transitions.

If you are looking for some adventure ideas check out this website!

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