When I was working with preschoolers or elementary-aged students in speech therapy, I tried to choose a book or song as a “theme” for my sessions. I’m working in a high school now, which is fun in its own way.. But I do miss the kiddos! Anyways, last summer I found myself working in an outpatient setting with lots of little ones with minimal expressive language working on CV and CVC syllables/words. (For non-SLPs reading this, C stands for a consonant sound and V stands for a vowel sound, so words like moo, baa, and neigh are all CV words. Examples of CVC words include pop, mom, bib.) I’ve found that animal sounds are a great way to target CV syllables, which is why I loved my unit featuring the book Do Cows Meow? by Salina Yoon. It is a lift-the-flap rhyming book, and you can click here to get it on Amazon. I love it because it is simple, but still so fun! The book features rhymes like, “Do cows sing? Do cows cuckoo? All I know is cows go . . . MOO!” The correct sound is revealed beneath the mouth (flap) of the animal on each page. The question format of the book can also help to teach yes/no (mostly no, in this case) questions.
After reading the book and attempting to get the child to imitate sounds, I had them clean off “dirty” animals with this easy to make “clean mud.” The “mud” is just corn starch, water, and brown liquid water color. I also used a toothbrush and a cup of water for the kids to help scrub the animals. The container pictured was from Walmart, but you could use whatever you have to hold the mud and water. During this sensory play with the dirty animals, we continued to practice target sounds/words.
You can also use this activity to target receptive language (e.g. Show me horse.). If the child is past that stage, you could work on connecting just the sound to the animal (e.g. Who says neigh?). You could target basic concepts (e.g. prepositions) and/or following directions (e.g. Put the horse in the mud or next to the pig). Expand descriptive language by talking about how the mud looks and feels… The possibilities are endless! The kids also get a kick out of getting “dirty” in therapy. Clean up is very easy since the “mud” comes off hands with just water and soap.
The Clean Mud recipe will depend on the size of your vessel. Mix it by eye–add corn starch to your container and slowly add water until it is to a consistency of mud, then mix in the liquid color. I do it this way because it is simple to get the consistency, and also because I don’t have measuring tools at work.
This is also a great activity because of the sensory play component! Sensory play is any type of play that allows a child to explore with their senses (smell, touch, taste, sight, sound). Sensory play helps children learn how to talk about their environment, can be good for fine-motor development, and may be soothing to a child.
Of course, you do not have to be a speech therapist to use this idea for fun at home. This would be fun for parents, babysitters, nannies, whoever! It is so important to expose children to language early and often, and this activity makes it easy to do so.
Let me know if you try this in therapy or at home! Did your kids/clients enjoy it?!
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