Getting kids to practice items that are tedious is a challenge, especially while trying to boost their self confidence. Imagine attempting to motivate your three-year-old son to practice his language skills for speech therapy. Yes, this is the “homework” that we have had to do recently.
JSL started speech back in September 2010 while at nursery school a few days a week. My little guy was dropping sounds at the start, end, and even middle of words. As a teacher, I knew something was wrong, but qualifying for speech can often be a battle with Early Intervention Services. This was not simply a second child being lazy, there was more to it. His hearing was fine, but for some reason, even though he was talking a lot, we could not understand a lot of what he was saying.
JSL’s speech therapist often tells me what letters they are working on. We concentrate on the starting and ending sounds they are covering during their time together. Right now, it happens to be the letter F, but just before that we were hard at work on S sounds. Making therapy into a game is the easiest thing to do when trying to inspire a child, no matter what the age.
It should not be a surprise that JSL is quite fond of Disney characters. One day, I was telling his therapist that he is a huge Disney fan. I gave her the names of characters and shows that he likes. Sure enough, one day he came home and mentioned playing a Winnie the Pooh game. One of the activities that was suggested to us is playing I Spy with JSL at home. My wheels started to turn, and immediately Disney was inspiring an activity.
We have a large collection of figures from various movies, Playhouse Disney shows, and beyond. Why not play I Spy Disney Characters? I would have JSL take out all of our figures from Toy Story, Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Little Einstein, Higglytown Heroes, Bear in the Big Blue House, JoJo’s Circus, and others to use. The two of us sit down on the floor and group of the characters in front of us.
At first, JSL would practice saying “I spy with my little eye something that is _____.” Then it would be my turn to guess. When it was my turn, I would try to pick a character with the target sounds. A bonus of I Spy is that you are also able to introduce vocabulary that is age appropriate into the mix. Colors, shapes, articles of clothing, musical instruments, and more can be tossed into the game. We often play this game, and it really seems to be helping JSL. If you do not have Disney figures, make character flashcards which could also be made into a memory game.
Another game we have played is Sticky Stuck. Since Winnie the Pooh always has honey on his hands, he is getting stuck to different items. JSL will pretend to be sticky stuck to items, or grab his Winnie the Pooh and have him get sticky stuck to things. You know you are doing something right when you have a child that is laughing, smiling, and also learning while doing therapy.
Have you ever used Disney Characters as inspiration for a therapy lesson? If you have, I would love to hear about it. Any other ideas would also be helpful for not only my son, but other children.