You may have guessed from the front page of my website that I like play doh a little bit! And you are right. I love incorporating play doh into my speech and language sessions. It keeps kids' focused and also allows them some tactile sensory input if they're into that. (NOTE: some kids really DON'T like touching play doh and I certainly don't use these activities with them! If you're even unsure if play doh is appropriate for your kids, you can consult an OT.)
There is pretty much no end to what you can do with play doh. Okay, maybe there is, but I haven't found it yet. I've only got 2 play doh activities to show in this post, but at the bottom you'll find a short list of some of the other fun ways I use it!
Speech sound smash mats:
This works for pretty much all speech goals, but I find it most useful for working on speech sounds in isolation or at the syllable level, when you can't really find the sounds in books or other fun games.
In isolation, I'll have the child help me make a row of play doh balls in coolers of their choice and they go down the row saying the sound and smashing each ball as they go. For syllables, I most often write out a "wheel of sounds" and have them go "around the clock" saying each syllable. So if it's /s/ in the middle, they'll smash each play doh ball as they say "say, see, sigh, so, etc." If I'm really on top of my game, I sequence the syllables from what's easiest for that child to what's hardest as they go around.
The picture I snapped doesn't really capture all the ways I use play doh for this, but it's good enough! Because play doh is so versatile, you can use it to go with any book! Especially when I don't have the particular manipulatives I need for a certain story, I like to make some out of play doh! You can see play doh pictured above as the "Muck" in the sleepy slimy marsh where the duck is stuck. (One Duck Stuck by Phyllis Root)
I have made all sorts of animals and objects to go along with the books we read or stories we create in our sessions. I have even gone so far as to plan and film a claymation movie with one of my clients, which was great fun!
Other ways to use play doh:
Feel free to comment with all the ways you use play doh at home with your own kids or at your clinic!
Thank you for reading and happy speaking!
We have exciting news over at Grow! Two new clinicians have come on board this month and are ready to bring the fun in speech and language learning. Currently they're only on Fridays, but they'll be expanding in the future. So if you're looking for an SLP, now is the time! For the first time in awhile, Grow doesn't have a waitlist.
So, without further ado, let's meet our first new SLP on the staff, Ashley Debrouwere!
Where did you go to school and how long have you been practicing?
I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Manitoba in linguistics and psychology. From there, I went on to complete my Master of Science Degree in Speech Language Pathology from Minnesota State University Moorhead. I have been practicing for about four years now, and have been enjoying every minute of it! After graduating, I worked for a private practice in North Dakota, and then moved back home to Winnipeg to work in the public sector at a hospital, serving mostly preschool aged clients. Now that I have moved to Vancouver, I am working both in a school, and part-time with Grow.
What made you decide to become an SLP?
I always knew I wanted a career where I would be able to help people, and also allow me to pursue my passion of language, and communication. I have always been fascinated with how language allows us to connect with each other in such a meaningful, and profound way. Both my parents worked in the medical field, and knowing me as well as they do, encouraged me to spend time shadowing some of the SLPs at the hospital where they worked. I quickly discovered speech-language pathology was the perfect fit for me.
What is your favorite thing to work on in therapy?
I really enjoy working with preschool aged children, targeting social emotional development, and early language skills. I love seeing how a child’s mind works, and exploring new skills with them as they learn, and we practice together. I find working with families very rewarding, so providing parent education and counseling is another part of working with this population I really enjoy.
What is your fovorite thing about being an SLP?
The best thing about my job is that I get to help children be their best selves! I find it extremely rewarding to be able to work with a child and his/her family, build strong relationships with them, and help them reach their goals. There is nothing better than watching a child make positive steps towards his/her goals, and feeling so proud of them for everything they have accomplished.
What is an area you'd like to learn more about?
I would love to learn more about literacy, and reading therapy for children. This is a skill that many children struggle with, and one that I am only just starting to gain experience in.
What do you like to do when you aren't helping kids improve their communication skills?
I just recently moved to Vancouver from the prairies, and I am having so much fun exploring all that the city has to offer. New hiking trails, restaurants, festivals - I even went downhill skiing for the first time recently, and had a blast! Other activities I enjoy include learning new languages, and exercising my “creativity muscles”. I have been studying both Spanish, and ASL for the last few years back home in Winnipeg, and would really like to get back into that here in Vancouver. I enjoy expressing myself through creative outlets, so I spend my free downtime journaling, knitting, or trying new recipes from cookbooks.
(You might have noticed that the title of this post has changed from "Activity" of the week to "Book" of the week. This is because I noticed that I'm most often posting about one book and many accompanying activities. So, each week I'll post my literacy-based activities under "book" of the week.
This week is all about Valentines Day! I've been using this cute little book for lots of my younger kids this week. I like it because it has great pictures with a lot of action, but few words. That way I can get the kids to make more inferences and think a little bit more about what's happening in the story.
This story is about a family of mice that make and deliver Valentines to all of their neighbours. Like all of the other books I do, this one lends itself to lots of different levelled activities. My kids who are just learning how to put words together can practice describing the pictures:
"He is falling," for example.
For kids using more complex language, I use this book for inferencing questions as I mentioned above. It also lends itself well to a few vocabulary words, such as "deliver," "anxious," and "relieved."
There are so many great activities that can accompany this book. For one kiddo learning location prepositions, we played a hide and find game.
I mentioned there were lots of good opportunities for inferencing and predicting in this book because of the limited words. Some questions I might ask are:
You can see, there are a lot of questions about feelings here! Valentines Day is also a time when I focus on feelings with my kids. The Story Grammar Marker from MindWing Concepts uses a heart shaped icon to indicate feelings in a story, so it gels in nicely with Valentines Day. We start in the context of the book, discussing how the family feels when they're delivering Valentines, when they realized one of the mice is lost, and when they find him again. Then we do an art project thinking about all of their own feelings. This is a great jumping off point for the Zones of Regulation as well. In the art project below, we just used pink hearts, but you could easily use hearts to correspond to the Zones.
This book can also be used for some articulation practice. There are quite a few consonant clusters to target, such as "sl," "gl," "fl," and more.
Stay tuned for next week (or the week after that, let's be honest!) where I share the next selection of book-related activities.
Thank you for reading and happy speaking!
Carla Monteleone & Deborah Carter own and operate Grow Speech and Language Therapy in Vancouver, BC