Saturday, January 14, 2012

New Year's Top 5 Toys

Happy New Year!!!!
My how the time has flown. I can't believe it's 2012 already.
I've just returned from a lovely vacation with the family in Florida and started work this week with lots of new energy. It's only when I started this week's sessions that I realized how much I missed my patients. Also funny is something I realized on my way back home from my trip. You know you're a speech therapist when one suitcase is filled with all toys and therapy materials.
I went crazy this Christmas with all the pre and post christmas sales on toys. I also think I bought out the whole of superduper pub. That company is going to drive me to bankruptcy!!! My assessment to buy the year was the MAVA. which I used for the first time last week and loved. I also bought the Magnetalk match up adventures kit, which finally went on sale at 50% off! I've wanted that one for a while!

I thought that to begin the year I'd share with you my top 5 toy buys to kickstart the therapy year
and maybe some quick ideas on how to use them in therapy.

1. Zippy Mat Hit the Moles Play mat (can be found here )
I snapped this one up at Publix, on 75% sale and paid and ran before they changed their minds. This was a steal at $6. This is an interactive mole that lights up, and the goal is to hit the moles' noses as they light up to score points. I've been using it mostly as a reinforcer/break between activities. Children say 5 target words then try to hit 5 moles etc. This one is a hit with everyone. It's also very interesting to see those children with motor planning difficulties struggle to hit the moles.

2. Frog in a box
Another HUGE favorite for me. I saw this last year in a Hanen video while I was doing the ITTTT program and fell in love. I've been searching for it ever since and finally found it here on Amazon this Christmas. It is the perfect cause and effect toy! What I love is that the frog actually pops right out of the box and lands somewhere nearby which the children are not expecting. It's a bit pricey to be honest, but definitely worth the money. I've built a routine with the box singing:
What's in the box
What's in the box
Tell me Tell me
What's in the box

Then we 'oooooopen' and 'POP' goes the frog ("Uh-Oh, you naughty frog") then we say "bye bye frog" put it back in and say "shut". Lovely language building activity.

3. The honking pig
Another one that makes me giggle. This is a nice switch adapted toy for teaching children the cause and effect relationship for initial switch use. I've been using it with my big mack device and laughing every time it walks, grunts and wags its cute little tail. If you're hooking it up to a big mack or big talk device you will need a 1/4" to 1/8" adapter to fit it. Make sure the company sends it the same time. Don't learn the hard way like I did. It's so amazing to see the little ones making that connection and looking from the switch to the toy as they press.

4. Wind up toys
Every speech therapist should have a set of these in a ziplock bag in their therapy bags. I found mine on sale at walmart for $1 each on boxing day and bought about 6. My favorites are the caterpillar, train, dinosaur and butterfly. I found a great idea in the Teach me to Talk manual about putting them in see through ziplock bags and to open give a long exaggerated zzzzzzzzzzip, while slowly pulling it across, then give the child a chance to do the same. Great also for imitation and fine motor skills.

5. The laughing monkey
Another cause and effect toy that makes me laugh. I picked this up during a long layover at MIA (Yes I'd find a toy store anywhere). I love it for maintaining attention and for shared attention. It works a treat with a little toddler I have with TBI who has difficulty maintaining attention. It also keeps the parents laughing in therapy.

So there you have my top 5. What are your favourite toys to use this year in therapy?


  1. Hi Reka! Thanks so much for the plug for my therapy manual! I had no idea it was on here and found this article through a link at Pinterest. I love, love, love the toys you have suggested here. I don't have any of them, but I will as soon as I get off here and push the 'Proceed to Checkout' button at amazon! Just wanted to pop on to say thanks! Laura Mize, M.S., CCC-SLP

  2. Hi Reka! I was wondering what types of goals you write for 'shared attention", awareness of others, attention and listening, and turn taking, engagement, maintaining joint attention, imitation skills, play, etc. I like to keep a goal bank of "general goals" and then modify them to fit the child. Would you mind sharing some example goals?
    My email is: if you'd like to email me.