Every child learns differently, what works for one child may not work for another. In Eli’s case there was a lot of trial and error to find out what activities were really working for him. As I said in my last blog, Eli responds best to play-based therapy. When he is presented with “hard work” he shuts down and refuses to try. When things are made fun, he is more willing to follow directions and participate. I figured I would show some of the things that work for Eli.
Our main objective here is to get Eli to say more words. So far he’s learned about 15 or so words and he see’s how knowing these words makes life easier; therefore, he is more willing to learn and trying to say new words. This alone gives us a huge boost for progressing his vocabulary, but we need some more ideas. Aside from saying everything out loud and asking Eli to repeat it, we also use a lot of flashcards. I have tons of flash cards that I pick up from the Dollar Tree (pictured- below left). Eli’s speech therapist also uses flashcards, but hers are a little more detailed. Instead of just showing a picture on one side and the word on the other, these cards (Kaufman cards- pictured below, right), break the word down into how we should be sounding out the syllables for Eli. For example, the word “UP” start by saying “uh”, then “uh..P”, then the full word “up”). The Kaufman cards have actually worked really great for Eli so far. I highly recommend them.
Now that Eli has started preschool we need to focus on some school readiness tasks. He picked up on numbers right away and really didn’t need much help with them at all. Now that he has those working we are now starting ABC’s. to help Eli with the alphabet we have traceable cards and a dry erase alphabet book. Eli isn’t really one for sitting and drawing/coloring. So these are kind of hard to get him to really do. Since he doesn’t really use them to write on, we use them as flashcards. Hold up the letter cards, say the sound, and have Eli repeat it. When he finally finds the interest in tracing them we will work on his writing skills. He does some drawing activities that aren’t too time consuming so he can keep his attention to it. I printed off tracing activities and put them in between clear sheets and have him use dry erase markers.
Eli has always done really great with gross motor skills (throwing balls, running, jumping, etc), but what he lacked in was fine motor skills (pinching, writing, cutting with scissors, etc.) A lot of this is worked on in occupational therapy. A pretty basic way to work on hand muscle activities is picking small items up with tweezers. An interesting activity Eli’s OT brought out one day was silly putty. She has a large amount of silly putty with small beads hiding inside; Eli pulls apart the silly putty and pulls out the beads. It holds his interest well and really works his hand muscles. She also has a big tub of dry beans that is a good sensory activity. But in the tub of beans she has a tennis ball with a face drawn on it, and where the mouth is, is also a cut straight through the tennis ball. When you squeeze the ball, the mouth opens and you can put beans inside. We also have some board games at home that help with his fine motor skills. Two that Eli really enjoys are ‘Let’s go Fishing” and “perfection” (Although perfection scares him when it pops at the end.)
At home in our free time, we also use ABC mouse. We actually started our subscription about a year ago but, up until recently, Eli was too young to really figure out how to use a computer mouse. At this point, we only use it for the game activities, specifically color games. Eli has learned his colors for a few months now but I love the games on ABC mouse. He really gets into them and a lot of them are pretty self explanatory. Again, if it’s fun, it doesn’t feel like work.
I know all kids learn differently, and though these work for Eli they may not work for all kids. But it is also good to find new activities to try. Don’t knock it until you try it!