Toys and games... they're how we speech language pathologists keep our kids motivated and engaged during therapy, which helps us get the maximum amount of target productions and keep those kids engaged. My practice specializes in speech sound disorders... which means that my clients can range from 10-year-olds who are working on single sound articulation errors to 3-year-olds with Childhood Apraxia of Speech. Here are some our favorite toys and games that have proven to hold kids' interest, especially for those younger ones who are minimally verbal.
Barrel of Monkeys...
For just a few dollars this little compact game is always a hit. It's quick, easily adaptable, and especially great for kids working on getting that lip closure for the /m/ sound. We dump those little guys out on the floor or table and practice our target syllable shapes as we pick them up.... "more!"... "monkey, monkey. monkey!"... "my turn!". But, this is also a great little game to reinforce counting ("let's count all the monkeys"), using adjectives ("three monkeys", "orange monkeys", "little monkeys", "silly monkeys"), and answering "wh-" questions ("what do you have?", "how many monkeys?").
Pop Up Pirate...
Another quick game that my kids just love... their little faces are priceless as the suspense builds each time they poke those swords into the barrel until that pirate pops right out. I love to use Pop Up Pirate for working on /p/ and /b/ sounds increasing in complexity... "up!", "boo!", "pop!", "pop up!", "put it in"... a great way to get the maximum amount of productions in a small amount of time. And of course, a great way to continue to enforce turn taking, descriptive language ("I have a red sword", " I have 4 green swords"), and following directions ("put a blue sword in").
Honey Bee Tree...
I bet you can guess what target sounds and syllable shapes this game is great for!... my favorites are /b/, /m/, and pairing those bilabial sounds with varying vowels, etc. ("bee", "my bee", "go bee!"). And of course, those opportunities for language are abundant... we count the leaves as we put them in the tree with each production of our target words and reinforce basic concepts ("put the leaf in", "leaves go on top", "put the bees inside", "pull the leaf out", "the bee fell down").
Mesh Squishy Ball...
I saved the best for last. This little $3 piece of gold has been a game changer for those kids who are just not interested in participating in speech therapy. We've all worked with those little ones who just want to bury their heads in mommy's lap and have no interest in interacting with us. Until I pull this little beauty out! The shyest of kids can't resist coming over and squeezing those "bubbles" back into the ball. We also get lots of opportunities for practicing target consonants ("pop", "bubble", "ball", "go in") and requesting ("more!", "again?", "do again!").
There you have it... just some of my favorite games and toys for keeping those minimally verbal kids engaged and on task so we can get the most out of speech therapy. What are some of your favorites?