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Language Therapy and play: Part 1

hello sunshine hide and seek thimble game prepositions thinkfun toddler preschoolWe’ve decided to try something different this week; we pride ourselves on helping people find just the toy they need (even when those needs might be very specific) but occasionally we have our knowledge of play bolstered by experts. There are a huge range of ways in which play can improve the lives of children and adults alike and it’s sometimes nice to be able to show this off. This week we’ve been lucky enough to have speech and language therapist Lynsey Paterson (who runs ‘Dialogue’ Independent speech and language therapy services) sit down to answer a few questions about a couple of the toys she uses in her sessions. Thank you Lynsey.

Fun Junction: The other day you kindly sang the praises of two Thinkfun Games that we stock: ‘Hello Sunshine‘, a hide and seek game using a friendly-looking little sunshine plush, and ‘Roll and Play‘ an active, dice-based actions and expressions game. What features of these games in particular do you like?

large_hello_sunshine_thinkfun_think_fun_toddler_gameLynsey: When I am looking for resources to use with children I am considering a lot of different factors. The most important one for me as a speech and language therapist is what areas of language is the toy targeting. “Hello Sunshine” is fantastic for targeting prepositions. Prepositions are words that describe the location of something and will include in, on, under, beside, in front of etc. Prepositions normally develop in child’s speech between the age of 2-3 years as children begin understanding question words like “where?” and when they start putting several words together into short phrases like “The ball is in the box”. (See www.talkingpoint.org.uk for good information about the stages of language development.)

Hello Sunshine” is a versatile game for targeting both the child’s understanding (receptive language) where they have to follow the instructions given by the adult and also their spoken language (expressive language) when they get to tell the adult what to do – which all kids love doing!

The “Roll and Play” game is more general as it covers several different areas of language. For example, name something that is red, do an action like wave goodbye. Games like this can be good as general language enrichment games which would be perfect for any parent, childminder or nursery to use to promote a language rich environment.

large_roll_and___play_thinkfun_think_fun_game_toddlersAfter the language demands, the durability and look of the toys have to be right. The Thinkfun Games are brightly coloured with all cards with a laminated finish which helps make sure the resources stand up to little hands! They also have handy little pockets built into the toys so the cards don’t go missing. Both these resources are like soft toys which I know can be an issue for cleaning – but they are machine washable.

Finally, I do believe that toys have to be fun for everyone who is playing with them – and that includes the adults! Everytime I use both these products, we have fun – especially when using “hello sunshine” develops into a hide’n’seek game!!

Fun Junction: We advertise these games as being suitable for children aged eighteen months and up, do you find that this limits the age range who can enjoy the use of such games or do (clients/patients) not mind using games aimed at such young children?

Lynsey: I must admit I tend not to pay too much attention to the ages on toys as I tend to find all children develop at different stages. I tend to focus more on what the language demands of the activity are and how do they match the child I am working with. Also there are so many ways you can increase the difficulty of the games which means you can extend the use of an activity. For example if you were working on the child’s ability to understand prepositions with “Hello Sunshine” then you could add 2 commands together instead of just one. This makes the task much harder! Finally, the “Hello Sunshine” has some blank cards where the child can create their own instructions which is great for generalising the children’s language too.

Sometimes I will also use resources for a completely different use than they are attended for. For example the “Roll and Play” dice has different colours on each face. The colours relate to different approaches in Speech and Language Therapy like colourful semantics (which colour codes different parts of speech to help children understand how language is structured). I have also used Velcro to attach different symbols to the dice for a game (e.g. different clues to help someone guess the meaning of a word). It is always a bonus when you can get multiple uses out of one game!

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Lynsey Paterson is an experienced speech and language therapist (SLT) who runs Dialogue – Independent speech and language therapy services. As well as being a SLT, Lynsey is also a Family Support Co-ordinator for Perth Autism Support and a mum to two primary aged children. Please go to http://www.dialogue-slt.co.uk for more information about Lynsey and the services she offers or follow her on Facebook or over on Twitter.

We’d like to thank Lynsey for taking the time to talk to us about these brilliant wee toys. We’ll be inviting Lynsey to contribute her expertise to our blog again in the future so if you have any questions about toys and language development please don’t hesitate to pop them down in the comments section below. Thanks for stopping by and we hope this information has been useful for you. All the best, the Fun Junction Team

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