What if I told you that all you need for a fun, summer, speech and/or language session was a bag filled with items that you would take to the pool or beach? This game is perfect for kids of all ages and you can easily adapt it to address your client's needs. Just fill a bag with objects and attach a picture of each object on to the bag handle. My younger clients have been working on naming objects and using simple sentences while my older ones use Expanding Expressions Toolkit (EET) beads. Once we have talked about a picture, clients must close their eyes and search for that object. Need to address concepts? Have kids sort objects into piles like "soft" vs. "hard" or "big" vs. "small" and then discuss which pile had the "most", "fewest" or "some".
Ocean in a BagThis summer, I found an adorable craft from Gift of Curiosity to assemble the ocean in a bag. So, I ventured out to my local Dollar Tree and picked up some supplies so my speech buddies could make one to take home. I used my favorite app by Smarty Symbols called Custom Boards to make a visual sequence and had my son construct an ocean bag for display. We used some leftover molding sand, ocean animal window clings, blue paint, hair gel, scented beads, and duct tape. After my first craft, I ditched the fragrant beads because they encouraged squishing and some leakage. If you hang it on a window, the sun really brightens it up!
|CUSTOM BOARDS BY SMARTY EARS/ VISUAL SEQUENCE|
Homemade Play Dough Sensory BinNext, I decided to create a sensory bin using homemade play dough, beaded necklaces to represent the deep part of the ocean, and leftover molding sand. I threw in some plastic whales, mini sea creatures, and shells. During one session, I encouraged imitation of actions by having all the animals "stand up" in the play dough. We also used the beads to make circular patterns in the dough, which in turn gave the dough the appearance of having "rocks" or "waves." This bin is great for working on following directions to "put in", "take out", or "get."
Curious George Discovery Beach GameSeveral years ago, I picked up a Curious George Discovery Beach game in the clearance aisle at Walmart. You know which aisle I'm talking about, right? Piles of unwanted clearance items shower the shelves. Amidst the total chaos, I found a hidden treasure! This game is a big hit with just a few sequential steps for young players. The game board itself is actually a box with a colorful scene on top of George and the Man with the Yellow Hat at the beach. There are five, large puzzle pieces with blue, traveling sand underneath and a plethora of mini objects. When you shake the box, both the sand and objects move and relocate. A player first turns over a picture card from the deck, and then spins to see what options he or she has to look under. The object of the game is to be the first player to create a complete circle of pictures by matching the pictures of objects to those under the puzzle pieces. The best part is: if you don't find a match on your turn, then you leave the card that you flipped face up. You are allowed to gather as many cards as you can match during any future turn. We have been working on beach vocabulary, making choices, matching pictures of objects to objects, taking turns, following directions, and the concept "under".
Fishing GameAnother fan favorite is my simple, sensory box filled with ocean animal magnet pieces. My speech buddies have enjoyed pretending to be fishing on a dock while seated at the edge of my office bench while they "fish". I filled a plastic bin with blue decorative paper found at the Dollar Tree and I added some blue beads and shimmery, white bag stuffing for some eye catching flair. I scored this particular Melissa and Doug puzzle on a daily Amazon deal months ago.
Summer BooksNext up, are my two favorite books. First, I love "Somewhere in the Ocean" by Jennifer Ward and T.J. Marsh because it has beautiful illustrations and a rhyme that you can sing to the tune of, "Over in the Meadow". This is a counting book with ocean animal mamas teaching their little ones appropriate behaviors. For example, the mama jellyfish tells her littles to "Zap!" I found someone playing the piano to this tune on U-Tube which has helped me to somewhat carry a note! My second all time favorite summer book is, "There was an Old Lady a Who Swallowed a Shell" by Lucille Colandro. I pair this story with a wonderful book attachment from Speechie Musings so clients can have an interactive part in sequencing the story, answering "what" questions, and expressing simple sentences using visual supports.
Arts and CraftsIt wouldn't be a speech and language session without some crafts. My speech clients enjoy earning things like colorful, mini pieces of foam to glue on an octopus. I also found adorable ocean scenes on clearance at Oriental Trading Company with small ink pads so children can make fish out of their fingerprints. Just last week, I bought a few felt ocean animal puppets that do not require any sewing for assembly! My young clients are working on saying: "Pull it through" or "My turn" while making these during our sessions and then they have a fantastic item to take home for pretend play. The last item pictured to the right is a sheet of speech bubbles that I thought I could use with my clients working on social skills so they could give a voice to various ocean animals.
Molding SandThe last activity that has brought a smile or two this summer is my summer box of molding sand. I picked up a flat storage bin at Target to store the sand tray and various toys. I found some dinosaur sand toys at the Dollar Tree which have been perfect for requesting, "big, small, bumpy, and smooth" during play. Most recently, I scored a block and truck set at Meijer on summer clearance that I think some of my young clients are going to LOVE. I have been using sand play as the first activity for clients that need something both calming and inviting to bring them to the table. I encourage clients to request sand toys using signs, speech generating devices, gestures, sounds, words, or simple sentences. We have also been creating several impressions of one object and then counting them as we smash them away.
In an effort to hang onto summer, I thought this post might inspire some of you to include an ocean theme in your speech and language lessons. Together, we can make the summer go a little longer at least during speech and language sessions!