by Sarah Dubrow
I always love pairing a fun book with a sensory activity to get kids excited about speech therapy, and any ocean themed book will work! Stories that are repetitive are much more engaging for children, because they can feel confident about what’s coming next.
This book, Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea by Jan Peck and illustrated by Valeria Petrone is an awesome repetitive story that keeps kids engaged with vibrant pictures and words that kids can learn quickly.
Skills to Target:
||– Ocean themed vocabulary
– 3 – 4 word utterances
(e.g., I see a __)
– Pragmatic skills like waving “hi” and “bye” to the animals
||– Various speech sounds
– Syllable pacing (Turning books into a songs helps kids follow and sing along!)
And… For the Sensory Activity!
Once we finished reading our ocean story, I let the kiddos find different sea creatures in a variety of sensory bins. They were able to find and label the various sea creatures they saw in the story. We also talked about the different kinds of textures and feelings in each bin (cold, rough, squishy, wet etc.).
From left to right, I used sand, water with blue food coloring, and water beads or Orbeez (you can get these on amazon or at Target).
by Sarah Dubrow
- Pick a simple recipe (Or add miscellaneous ingredients into a bowl)
- If possible, have toys that resemble the cooking supplies
- Or give your child safe real materials
- Decide what words or phrases you would like to target with your child
- Use the provided strategies throughout your cooking session to elicit communication from your child.
Techniques to Increase Language Use
- Modeling – Hold objects close your mouth and say the target word. Having them make eye contact with you will draw their attention to you and help with imitation
- Descriptive Play – Describe what your child is doing as they are doing it . For example, you might say: “You are putting the flour in the bowl”
- “More” – Give your child only 1-2 pieces of something or give them less of what they need. This will encourage them to ask for more
- Repetition – When your child wants a certain item (or you are giving them an item) model the word 2-3 times before proceeding. After you model the word 3 times, give them what they want
“Ingredients” (Useful Words)
- Adjectives: Big, Small, Cold, Hot
- Prepositions: In, On, Under, Behind
- Nouns: Mommy/Daddy, Spoon, Bowl, Cup, Food, Drink, Mouth, Fingers, Hands, Belly/ Tummy
- Social Words: More, Please, Thank you, All Done, Help
- Verbs: Want, Drink, Eat, Clean Up, Mix, Stir, Shake, Pour, Dump
Common First Words Adapted from: The Rossetti Infant Toddler Language Scale (2006)
Other Language Rich Situations
In addition to cooking, use other daily activities to enhance language development.
- Going Shopping: Line up empty boxes or toy foods and have your child “go shopping” for foods they want or enjoy
- Singing: Incorporate familiar songs or sound effects into your cooking routine. For example, using “Clean up” song when the activity is finished
- Daily Routines: If a cooking session is too complex or time consuming, the provided techniques can be incorporated into other daily activities such as snack time, brushing teeth, dressing etc.
Other Helpful Online Resources:
by Kathryn Wallace
I am constantly looking for resources for parents who want meaningful ways to engage with their children. I found this great idea tool to promote engagement through limited/supervised media time. You simply put in your child’s name and age. It sets you up with a media plan. The best part is that it was created by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Take a look and I hope you find it helpful!
by Sandy Masayko
The Cardboard Fairy, also known as Dorothy Hess, is still spreading her magic around to Easterseals children. Her latest creations include custom-made chairs, trays, benches and steps. Dorothy is not only a talented designer, she is also an artist who decorates her creations with pictures of items that have special meaning to the child or family. She has fabricated items for children in our schools as well as young children in the community. We are grateful for Dorothy’s work and dedication in creating beautiful and functional equipment.
Dorothy holding some of her work
A custom slant board
Decorated custom stool
by Sandy Masayko
Thanks to Project Vive, our wonderful volunteer partners from State College, Easterseals students will soon be driving their adapted vehicles again. After a year of hard use, the cars needed some repairs, and those repairs were beyond the abilities of our AT Team.
So Project Vive came to the rescue! Braving the perils of the Schuylkill Expressway at rush hour, Project Vive came by van in mid May to transport the adapted cars back to State College where the engineers at Project Vive could repair starters, switches and driving mechanisms. The engineers will be adapting some of the cars with new capabilities such as joystick control. The volunteers took a few other broken items with them as well as the cars.
Three cars have already been returned to the Yaffe Center. We are very grateful for the help we get from Project Vive staff.
We will be working with Project Vive to test out some of their unique augmentative/ alternative communication products. For more information about the exciting work that Project Vive is doing to design low cost augmentative communication, visit their website
Check out the pictures of the Project Vive volunteers loading up our kiddie cars into their van, and some of the refurbished cars upon return to Yaffe Center.
by Jeanine Johnson
I know, I know, I keep talking about how amazing Easterseals is. But it IS truly amazing. Despite working in an administrative capacity, there are ample opportunities to interact with the children. There is a welcoming culture here at Easterseals, and I am one who has chosen to take advantage of this culture. I have made interacting with the children an integral part of my day, taking breaks from the monotony of office work and visiting classrooms.
Oh, the payout is grand!! Not only do I get to know the children, but they get to know me. As a result, I get daily visits from several children before they board the buses to go home. I’ve been told those children are not happy when I’m not here to receive them. BIG SMILE!! I even have the honor of being included as one of the “people options” on one of the student’s communication device. When I hear “Ms. Jeanine” coming from the hallway, I know Vanessa is coming to pay me a visit. How cool is that!
Even though I am not a part of the education team, I’m still a part of the children’s learning experiences. Whether I’m coaxing a friend to use her words, identifying colors, blowing bubbles, sharing or practicing manners, we are all learning. I think in life we are all both Teachers and Students. I know I have learned a lot from the kids. Most importantly remembering to find joy in the little things, and appreciating the significance of determination, trust, and unconditional love. Whenever I need a “Pick-Me-Up” or want to “Fall in Love” all over again, I visit with the kids!
by Jeanine Johnson
The other day I was sitting and reflecting fondly on the last year. I made a lot of meaningful connections with the children here at Easterseals. As I have spoken of before, I was both sad to see some leave, but excited for the growth and progress that enabled them to move forward, on to the next adventure in their lives. I was comforted in the thought that maybe, just maybe, I’d be able to hold on to some of these connections, at least a little longer. I’m sitting here smiling because I have. Don’t know how long it will last, but I am holding on to and enjoying every opportunity that presents itself.
In August I attended a 5th Birthday party for Maximo. He’s a former student who left Easterseals early because his family relocated. During his time here he managed to capture everyone’s heart. We were all disappointed that our time with him was cut short. I was overjoyed that I was invited to share in his birthday celebration. It was nice being able to see him and, to once again, experience that magical smile. His mother sends me pictures periodically, which always brightens my day immensely.
In December I met up with one of my favorite graduates, Mung. My daughter, Autumn, and I treated Mung and his mother to lunch in Center City, Philadelphia. We had an opportunity to catch up on all that has been going on with him and his transitioning to a new school. He has always been somewhat of a character having “beyond his years” humor and sarcasm. I was delighted to see that hadn’t changed.
What’s been very evident to me is how much that Easterseals has meant to these families. I am so glad that their faith in entrusting us with the care of their children was well placed. The impact our programs have for these children will remain with them for years to come. The impact the children have had on me will last my lifetime.
lunch with Mung