As a speech language pathologist I am always looking for fun and fresh interactive games to use with kids. But, I need those games to be practical for me, and that means keeping clutter to a minimum. I find that using products that serve multiple purposes not only works for therapy, it works for parents too! Here are a few speech and articulation activities to use on one of my favorite products, the ezpz Flower Play Mat.
Articulation Therapy: A speech language pathologist helps children with an articulation disorder if their speech errors continue past an expected developmental age. For instance, a child might make a "w" for an "r" sound (e.g., "wabbit" for "rabbit") or have difficulties saying all of the sounds in a word (e.g., "nana" for "banana"). Entertaining articulation activities are needed to keep kids working on their speech goals while having fun!
Novelty: Kids in articulation therapy crave something new and exciting when they are working on the same speech sounds each session. You can give them something novel just by changing the surface you play on. I like switching therapy tasks from the surface of the table to the floor, tent, therapy swing and even the Play Mat!
Flashcards: I love using flashcards in therapy, but they can get a little dull and boring over time. Change up therapy by using flashcards on the Play Mat! I like that the cards stick to the silicone surface, which is nice if you have kiddos who just love to throw your flashcards around. I also find that kids are drawn to the way I separate the articulation cards into each section of the flower on the mat, making it an organized activity for both individual and group therapy. To crank up the fun-meter, I use a magnet wand (as seen in the picture) and place binder clips or paper clips on my flashcards, and then have the children pick up the flashcard with the wand. It’s always a hit!
Stamp Sheets: Do you have a child that has fine motor or sensory delays too? Decrease their frustration when working on stamp sheets by using the Play Mat’s silicone surface to hold the 8 x 11 piece of paper in place. In my experience, if you have an organized surface for your activity, kids have a clear visual of where the activity is taking place, which decreases frustration, distractions, avoidance and other unwanted behaviors. Not only does the Play Mat give the kids a fun new sensory area to do an activity on, it also makes for easy cleanup. Score!
Oral Placement Tools: Sometimes kids need to feel the movement of their mouth structures to improve phonation, respiration, resonation and speech clarity. A fun way to incorporate this tactile-sensory approach is to use tools such as horns, chewy tubes, bubbles and other oral motor instruments. I like to place all of my tools on the Play Mat to keep liquids (e.g., spilled bubbles and salvia) in one easy to clean place! Since the mat is made from high quality silicone (food and medical grade) that is BPA, BPS, PVC, latex and phthalate free, it is a safe surface to place therapy tools that go inside your child’s mouth.
If you have been hesitant about purchasing a Play Mat, think of all the ways you could use it to organize your playroom, help with your child’s speech development and/or avoid the mess! How do you use articulation activities and games in therapy? #ezpzfun #speechtherapy #slpeeps
Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz