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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Book Central - The Very Brave Bear

Reading the Right Books the Right Way

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

We know from research that children who are not read have a poorer understanding of language, their vocabularies are smaller and their thinking skills are less advanced.  And this means they go on to have trouble learning to read themselves.  So, reading the right books in the right way to your child is critical to their development.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how or book reading with one fantastic book and our top three tips to make sure the way you’re reading is helping your child communicate, connect and succeed!

The Very Brave Bear By Nick Bland

What’s it about?

This book is a part of a series of books that follow The Very Cranky Bear and his adventures. In this book, the bear is back and this time he is facing Boris Buffalo in a battle of bravery. But something surprises them both resulting in them fleeing through the forest in fear. This book is full of vibrant illustrations and a fun, engaging story which children will love to read aloud.

Our top 3 tips

1. Focus on rhyming words

As you’re reading with your child, point out the rhyming words, talk about how/why they rhyme and ask them to try to think of another word that rhymes. This will help strengthen their phonological awareness skills which they must have to learn to read successfully.

2. Spark a conversation

Have a discussion with your child about each thing that the bear and buffalo do on each page. Ask some questions but not too many. Questions like 'Is that scary?', 'what would you do if that happened?', 'how would you feel about that?', 'Is the bear brave or is the buffalo brave?' and 'What does it mean to be brave?' are great for sparking conversation and expanding your child’s emotional vocabulary.

3. Ask your child to retell the story

After you have finished reading the book together, ask your child to tell back the main things that happened in the story. Help them to remember the correct sequence of the activities that the buffalo and bear completed to show how brave they are. Encourage them to use words like first, then and last. This will help them to understand the structure of stories and make up their own.

 

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