Toy Central: Spot It

We've heard it said before “play with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what games are good to play and how to play them.  Did you know it’s these two things – the what and how - that makes the difference to your child’s development?

So why take the time to play with your child? Well, research shows us play allows children to use their creativity as they develop their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and social and emotional skills. Wow! That’s a lot of areas play can influence. Play is also so important for  healthy brain development. Most of all play is fun and a simple joy that children love and by playing with your child,  you are giving them time when they feel special.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how for playing with your child by telling you about a game we like to use in clinic and sharing our top three tips on how to play the game to encourage your child’s listening, talking and thinking skills.

What’s the game? 

Spot It by

What’s it about?

Spot It! is a game that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Each card is decorated with universal images and there is only one identical symbol in common between each card, it is up to you to find out which one. However you play the game, the aim of the game is to be the fastest to spot the identical symbol between two cards, name it out loud!

3 ways to play

When it comes to games did you know you don’t have to follow the instructions? Modifying the way you play means you can teach your child a whole bunch of new skills using just one game!

So, here are 3 ways our Speech Pathologist suggests you can play:

  1. Take turns flipping two cards over from the deck and try to spot pictures that are the same. Use a timer to see who can spot it the fastest!
  2. Hide the cards around the room. You and your child each bring one card back and see who can spot the same picture first.
  3. Each person flips a card over from the deck and see who can spot the picture that’s the same first. That person then names one other object in the same category.

 

3 skills your child can learn

  1. Turn taking
  2. Winning and losing
  3. Vocabulary development and categorising

 

Remember to keep games light and fun! And if you found this article helpful click the share button.  One of your friends may just find it useful too!


Toy Central: Jenga

No doubt you’ve heard the message “play with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what games are good to play and how to play them.  Did you know it’s these two things – the what and how - that makes the difference to your child’s development?

So why take the time to play with your child? Well, research shows us that play allows children to use their creativity as they develop their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and social, and emotional skills.  Phew! That’s a lot of areas play can influence. Play is also so important for healthy brain development. Most of all play is fun and a simple joy that children love and by playing with your child,  you are giving them time when they feel special.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how for playing with your child by telling you about a game we like to use in the clinic and sharing our top three tips on how to play the game to encourage your child’s listening, talking and thinking skills.

 

Name of game

Jenga

What’s it about?

Jenga is a classic construction and strategy game for all ages. Using concentration and fine motor skills, children stack the wooden blocks in a sturdy tower, then take turns pulling out blocks one by one until the whole stack crashes down. The last person to pull out a block without the tower crashing is the winner! This game is wonderful for children to love to build and also love watching the tower fall.

Our top 3 tips
1. Target Speech Sounds

This game can be used to target a whole range of speech sounds. Try writing out and sticking words containing a sound onto the blocks and encourage your child to say the word with the correct sound. This will enable lots of repetitions of sounds in a fun and engaging game.

2. Explore language concepts as you play

There are lots of language concepts you and your child can target throughout this game. Point out different prepositions and get them to repeat them back to you. If you're not sure where to start use top, bottom, middle, left, right, next to, up, and down are just a few! You can also add colours, shapes, objects or instructions to the blocks or you can work on following instructions and further developing their range of vocabulary.

3. Use questions to create fun and engaging conversation

Lastly, Jenga can be used as a fun way to have conversations with children and work on turn-taking. Each time a person has a turn they can ask or answer a question about themselves and keep the conversation going until the tower crashes down! Remember children love it when we keep playing fun, so get creative with some silly questions or jokes to keep them engaged!

 

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Toy Central: Hedbanz

I'm sure you’ve heard the message “play with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what games are good to play and how to play them.  Did you know it’s these two things – the what and how - that makes the difference to your child’s development?

So why take the time to play with your child? Well, research shows us play allows children to use their creativity as they develop their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and social and emotional skills.  Phew! That’s a lot of areas play can influence. Play is also so important for healthy brain development. Most of all play is fun and simple joy that children love and by playing with your child,  you are giving them time when they feel special.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how for playing with your child by telling you about a game we like to use in the clinic and sharing our top three tips on how to play the game to encourage your child’s listening, talking and thinking skills.

This month the spotlight is on ‘Headbanz for kids’! So, head over to our blog and find out how you can use this game to make a difference in your child’s development. Link in bio

Name of game

Headbanz for Kids!

What’s it about?

Headbanz is a fun, interactive game that is known as the quick question game of what am I? The aim of the game is to ask questions until you figure out if the cartoon on your head is an animal, food or household item. Everybody else knows your cartoon but you! The winner is the first person to guess their cartoon before the timer run out!

Our top 3 tips
1. Develop younger children's basic vocabulary and simple category skills

With younger children, you can use the nicely illustrated playing cards that contain pictures of familiar foods, animals, and household items which can be used to teach simple vocabulary or turned into a category sorting task.

2. Encourage older children's describing words and use of adjectives

When playing with older children, ensure all questions asked contain an adjective whether that be focusing on the colour, size, feature or category. This helps promote sentence complexity as well as vocabulary development.

3. Target auditory recall skills through recalling

Get your child to focus on the previous questions they have asked to ensure they are not repeating the same questions. This helps target auditory recall as your child needs to recall the answers to previous questions and comprehend the answers to begin creating a mental picture in their minds.

 

Don't forget to have fun together - children learn through play!

 

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Toy Central: Pop Up Pirate!

Play is essential for your child's development and we've heard it said before “play with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what games are good to play and how to play them. The what and how is what makes the difference to your child’s development so learning how to play well together and often is key!

So why take the time to play with your child? Well, research shows us play allows children to use their creativity as they develop their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, social and emotional skills.  Phew! That’s a lot of areas play can influence. Play is also so important for healthy brain development. Most of all play is fun and simple joy that children love and by playing with your child,  you are giving them time when they feel special.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how for playing with your child by telling you about a game we like to use in the clinic and sharing our top three tips on how to play the game to encourage your child’s listening, talking and thinking skills.

This month the spotlight is on one of our absolute favourites: ‘Pop Up Pirate!' by Tomy.

What’s it about?

Pop Up Pirate is a classic, fun game that welcomes barrels of laughter. The aim of the game is to press the pirate into the barrel and stick different swords in while you wait patiently for the pirate to pop up! This game will keep you and your child on the edge of your seat as nobody knows which sword will be the one to make the pirate pop!

Our top 3 tips

1. Practice target words with repetition

While you are taking turns, using the swords have your child practice speech sounds. Every time they practice a sound/target word they are given a sword to place into the barrel. This helps increase the number of repetitions and makes speech practice fun and enjoyable.

2. Work on conjunctions

Conjunctions such as ‘and’ ‘or’ and ‘because’ can be targeted when playing this game. When asking for a sword, ask your child whether they want the ‘blue OR the red’ sword or ‘I want the yellow AND green sword.’ This helps target your child’s understanding of these concepts as well as provides them with a functional way to practice using conjunctions when communicating.

3. Practice sequencing

Sequence what order you would like your child to pick up the coloured swords e.g. ‘before you pick up the red sword, give me the green sword.’ This helps to target following instructions and listening skills.

 

Remember learning through play is a fun way to expand your child's development so keep it light and fun as you play together!

 

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Toy Central: Tummy Ache

Playing Games Together

No doubt you’ve heard the message “play with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what games are good to play and how to play them.  Did you know it’s these two things – the what and how - that makes the difference to your child’s development?

So why take the time to play with your child? Well, research shows us play allows children to use their creativity as they develop their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, social and emotional skills.  Phew! That’s a lot of areas play can influence. Play is also so important for healthy brain development. Most of all play is a fun and simple joy that children love and by playing with your child,  you are giving them time when they feel special.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how for playing with your child by telling you about a game we like to use in clinic and sharing our top three tips on how to play the game to encourage your child’s listening, talking and thinking skills.

 

Name of the Game

Tummy Ache – Orchard Toys

In this game, you take turns turning over cards showing different foods and drinks to put on your placemat. But watch out! There may be some bugs or creepy crawlies hiding in some of the food. The winner is the first person to make a bug-free meal.

3 ways to play

When it comes to games you don’t have to follow the instructions. Modifying the way you play means you can teach your child a whole bunch of new skills using just one game!

So, here are 3 ways to play:

1. Find your favourites and talk about the foods they have chosen

Place the picture cards facing up and ask your child to create their favourite meal and put it on their placemat. Talk about the foods they have chosen and encourage children to describe their meal.

2. Play restaurants

Take turns pretending you are at a restaurant and ‘order’ the meal that you would like to have. Your child will need to listen to your request and follow instructions as well as request what they would like to have. Make it silly by requesting for foods and drinks with bugs!

3. Catergorize food groups

Have all the picture cards face down and take turns turning them over. Ask questions for your child to begin sorting food groups whether it is a drink, side dish, main meal or dessert and put them into catergories and discuss what other foods and drinks might go into those groups.

3 skills your child can learn

  1. Turn-taking and following rule based games
  2. Vocabulary development for foods, drinks and describing words
  3. Social skills and role-play of familiar contexts

 

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Christmas Gift Guide to Grow Your Child's Language Skills

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas and it's that time of year to find gifts for the children in your world. There are so many options available so we thought we'd put together a list of the best toys to engage your child's language skills - after all learning through play is one of the greatest ways to help your child develop their communication and have fun!

Looking for some last-minute stocking fillers or a Christmas present for under the tree?  The masses of toys you find in the stores can be rather overwhelming.  You may find yourself asking which ones will they enjoy and will also help with their development? To help you choose, we’ve put together of few of our top suggestions for some great presents this Christmas that everyone will love and won’t send you rushing out for more batteries on Boxing Day.

1. An experience voucher

Not every gift has to be a toy. An experience voucher is a great way to explore the world around us together. Whether it is a voucher for the zoo, movie tickets, an interactive play centre, a wildlife park, adventure park, water park, aquarium or science centre.  There are so many fabulous places for children of different ages.  Your child will love spending time with you and seeing something new.  And, of course, it’s the perfect opportunity for them to learn new things too!

2. Books

The benefits of books are enormous and a great gift for any age!  For younger children, colourful picture books and books with lots of repetition and rhythmical language are perfect.  Some wonderful authors include Mem Fox, Pamela Allen, Eric Carle and Julia Donaldson. For older children, you’ll probably know what they’re interested in reading.  Some great series include the Treehouse series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Bad Guys and Captain Underpants. All of these chapter books have images and text to be able to engage your child in a love for reading.

3. Construction Toys

Think soft or plastic blocks for babies, wooden blocks or Mega Blocks for toddlers, Duplo or LEGO for preschoolers and Technic LEGO for school children.  They will spend hours constructing whilst using their imagination and motor skills. When playing together construction type toys give the opportunity to talk through steps and further develop vocabulary and an understanding of prepositions (i.e. in/on/top/under) which can be explored at any age.

4. Board and Card Games

Games are a great way to explore communicating within a fun framework. They encourage children to take turns, read and process information, express themselves and develop strategies for communicating. When finding games for preschool seek out ones that are simple and encourage taking turns like Snap, Match-Ups, Memory games or Snakes and Ladders. As they get older children can further explore multiple-step instructions and turn-taking along with other literacy skills in a fun way with games like Top Trumps, UNO, Scrabble - Kids Edition, Kids Know Best or Monopoly to develop these skills.

There are lots more specific and detailed suggestions out there. One of the things you’ll notice about these lists is the toys do not need batteries! Studies have found that toys with lights, sounds and automatic actions actually reduce the number of ways a child will play with it and reduce the amount of talking that happens during their play.

We hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and you find a gift that’s your child loves.

Happy Christmas shopping!


Toy Central – Pizza, Pizza!

Playing Games Together

No doubt you’ve heard the message “play with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what games are good to play and how to play them.  Did you know it’s these two things – the what and how - that makes the difference to your child’s development?

So why take the time to play with your child? Well, research shows us play allows children to use their creativity as they develop their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and social and emotional skills.  Phew! That’s a lot of areas play can influence. Play is also so important for healthy brain development. Most of all play is fun and simple joy that children love and by playing with your child,  you are giving them time when they feel special.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how for playing with your child by telling you about a game we like to use in clinic and sharing our top three tips on how to play the game to encourage your child’s listening, talking and thinking skills.

Name of game

PIZZA, PIZZA! by Orchard Toys

What’s it about?

This is a fun and interactive game in which players take turns spinning both spinner and choosing a pizza slice card from the table that matcher either the colour or the shape shown on one of the spinners and place it on the correct space on their pizza board. However, if the pizza slice shows bug/insect toppings, all players shout “in the bin” and the slice is put onto the bin on the Head Chef board. The first person who makes a delicious bug/insect free pizza wins!

3 ways to play

When it comes to games you don’t have to follow the instructions. Modifying the way you play means you can teach your child a whole bunch of new skills using just one game! So, here are 3 ways to play:

1. Ask your child to describe the pizza slice and the toppings on it.

Have the pizza slices faced down on the table and ask your child to spin the spinners and pick up the corresponding slice.

2. Take turns asking for a slice of pizza from each other's board

Have different slices of pizza on your boards and take turns asking for a slice of pizza from each other’s board by describing and using simple phrases, for example, “can I please have the x”. Your child will need to listen carefully to your descriptions to choose the correct pizza slice. Make it fun and pretend to pay for each pizza slice and add in some funny characters and phrases, for example, “that will be $2 please sir”.

3. Create your own pizza's

Have fun choosing all the slices with the same colour on the back and then once your pizza is complete flip the slices over and share with each other the types of pizza slices you have and whether they would be delicious or disgusting (depending on whether they have bugs/insects on them).

3 skills your child can learn:

  1. Taking turns, waiting, and following instructions
  2. Using descriptive language and extending their vocabulary by targeting specific words or groups of words (e.g. pronouns, adjectives, etc)
  3. Roleplay and conversation skills (e.g. turn-taking, topic maintenance, asking questions, making comments)

 

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Toy Central - Mr Potato Head

Playing the right games in the right way

No doubt you’ve heard the message “play with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what games are good to play and how to play them.  Did you know it’s these two things – the what and how - that make the difference to your child’s development?

So why take the time to play with your child? Well, research shows us play allows children to use their creativity as they develop their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and social and emotional skills.  Phew! That’s a lot of areas play can influence. Play is also so important for healthy brain development. Most of all play is fun and a simple joy that children love and by playing with your child,  you are giving them time when they feel special.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how for playing with your child by telling you about a game we like to use in clinic and sharing our top three tips on how to play the game to encourage your child’s listening, talking and thinking skills.

Name of game

Mr. Potato Head by Hasbro

Image Credit: Hasbro

What’s it about?

Mr. Potato Head is a game that allows children to use their imagination to mix and match different combinations of outfits for Mr. Potato. This game is great for our toddlers and preschool-aged children who love to build. Mr. Potato Head now comes in a variety of outfits and themes such as Avengers and Star Wars.

Our top 3 tips

1. Focus on vocabulary

Mr. Potato Head is filled with so many opportunities for developing basic vocabulary. Singing the nursery rhyme ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes’ is a great way to encourage our toddlers to learn and use common words such as ‘shoes’ and ‘eyes’. Once your child is able to sing along with you, leave some words out of the nursery rhyme and encourage them to fill it in. Setting up predictable patterns of language, such as nursery rhymes of common phrases like ‘ready, set, go’ is a great way to encourage language use for toddlers who are late to talk.

2. Have more than one

If you are lucky enough to have two sets of Mr. Potato Head, you can build on your child’s visual-matching abilities by first completing a Mr. Potato head yourself then letting your child copy. This is also a great one for introducing the concept of ‘same’ vs ‘different’. For preschool-aged children, you could also deconstruct your Mr. Potato Head then ask your child to recreate it the same way you did. This helps them use their visual memory skills.

3. Practice requesting

Mr. Potato Head can be used as a resource for developing your child’s ability to request. A simple activity you can do with Mr. Potato Head is to have all the pieces in front of you, while your child only has Mr. Potato’s body. Your child is then has to ask for all the pieces using their talking skills (e.g., “Can I have a nose, please?”). See if you can extend your child's request by 1 word. For example, if your child is currently requesting by saying "nose", you can model "want nose" then wait and see if they'll copy your words.

And don't forget the most important thing: HAVE FUN TOGETHER!

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3 ways to help your child play well with others

Is your child having trouble playing with other children? If you answered yes, then keep reading!

If your child is having difficulty playing with other children, this can impact their ability to form and maintain meaningful friendships and thrive in day-to-day activities. By developing this skill, you will have a child who can build long-lasting friendships, feel confident in understanding and talking about their emotions and can support and respect others when playing together.

So, if you’d like to help your child play well with others, check out our top 3 tips below:

Play a game that requires taking turns

Children typically love playing games and you will sometimes find they would much rather take all the turns themselves than share them around, especially when they’re younger. Playing a game that requires them to have to take turns is a great way to introduce the importance of turn taking and encourage your child to say whose turn it is in the game, for example ‘my turn’, ‘your turn.’ Using direct language to explain to your child what they’re expected to do in a game helps them to learn how to appropriately take turns.

Talk about emotions and help your child to tell you how they feel in different situations

We all experience lots of emotions throughout our everyday lives and the same goes for children, especially when they're playing (and possibly losing). However, for children these feelings can be quite scary and overwhelming at times. Talking about how your child is feeling and labelling their emotions allows your child to develop a healthy understanding and acceptance of their feelings and know it is normal to feel different emotions during different situations.

Make sure you win the game sometimes

We’re all guilty of it, letting your child win every game that is played to avoid them getting upset or having a tantrum. However, making sure you win the game sometimes is super important so they can learn to cope with a loss. Showing them how to react and manage disappoint is a great way to teach this skill. Providing them with a number of opportunities to practice will help your child learn how to deal with loss and disappointment in a game, as well as teach them good sportsmanship and respect towards others they are playing with.

If you’re worried about your child’s play skills, a paediatric speech pathologist can help. Please feel free to send an email to info@talkplaygrow.com.au and we will be sure to get back to you.