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Using the Game "Tummy Ache" in Therapy

As you have seen, I love using Orchard Toys in therapy.  They have great, educational games that children seem to love playing (as usual, no affiliate links).  This time I thought I would talk about the game that boys (aged 4-8) request the most, Tummy Ache.  The idea is to gather a full dinner by picking up different cards.  Some of the cards have the usual foods you would see at dinner (e.g. rice) and some cards have food but they are covered in creepy crawlies (e.g. maggots on a pizza).  If you play the game as it is supposed to be played, the first person with a complete meal wins.  I never play it this way.  I continue to play it until everyone has a full meal. Here are how I use it in therapy.

1. Building Vocabulary:  This game contains a wide variety of foods from steak to chicken, from rice to beans and juice to smoothies.  If the children are not familiar with some of the food, I will sometimes bring them it for them to taste test.  The game also includes a wide variety of bugs that I have used to build up vocabulary. 

2.  Categorization: I have used this game to sort food or the creepy crawlies.   I have also had children name the category of the food that they have picked up.  

3.  Describing:  The children have to describe the food and/or creature that they have picked up. 

4. Expanding sentences and pronoun use:  It is great for practicing longer sentences such as, "I have _________."  "I like __________." "I don't like _________." "You have _____."  "Yuck, I have _____." or "The _________ goes in the garbage." 

5. Commenting:  This is a great game for teaching social language skills.  Often conversations are started around what food they like and don't like.  It is a great way to talk about appropriately responding to comments when you agree or disagree what the other person has said. It is also a great way to ask why a person likes/dislikes a particular kind of food.

6. Learning about others:  Everyone has food they like or dislike.  This game naturally brings about discussion regarding favourite kinds of foods.  It is a great way to work on initiating a conversation.  

7. Teach about trading, sharing and negotiation:  I will often play the game that if they don't like the food they have picked up, they could ask another person to trade with them.  This can sometimes get a little heated as some foods are more desirable then others.  Some children will say yes or no right away but others will start negotiating by offering to trade another food or will want another piece of food thrown into the deal.  This is also a great way of having children work on asking questions.

8. Lastly we work on some play skills as we pretend to eat the food when everyone has a full plate.  

This is a game that children request again and again. It is a great motivator and reward for the children's hard work.  If you are interested in some of the other Orchard Toys I use, check out this blog post.  Do you use this game in therapy?

5 Benefits of Incorporating Movement into Speech and Language Therapy

Speech Language Pathologists sometimes find themselves doing therapy or assessments in all sorts of different places. One of my favourite places outside of class or a therapy room is in the gym.  It is a great place to incorporate movement into therapy.  If not in the gym, I still build in movement as much as possible.  Why?

1. There is a growing body of research that says improving a child's fitness can help learning.  So why not incorporate some movement activities into therapy if it will help learning instead of more sedentary activities.

2. Children are moving less and less these days.  Some schools, districts or countries are sacrificing gym and/or recess to focus more on academics. Even in preschool, children are expected to sit longer, do table work and pay attention longer.  This can be a struggle for many children who have a hard time keeping their bodies still and pay attention.  With those children, I find those children have better focus and work harder when I get them to move.

3. Gym activities and games are a great way for children to functionally build their knowledge and use of verbs and prepositions.  Children need to physically experience different prepositions and verbs to better understand their meaning.

4. Gym activities are also a great way to functionally work on following directions. Children are given many directions during gym class. Work on activities that support what they are doing in gym class.  

5. Many movement activities can be quickly done (e.g. run to the wall and back).  This allows for many opportunities to practice their speech and language skills. These activities are typically easy to prep. If you are curious about the activities I use, check out this blog post. 

Overall this has been very successful and just as importantly the children have fun.

Bring Children's Lit into Therapy with "The Hockey Sweater"

I have been feeling a little nostalgic of late and in honour of Canada's 150th birthday, I thought I would talk about using the book, "The Hockey Sweater" in therapy (no affiliate links).  It is a classic Canadian children's book.  It is about a boy growing up in Quebec in 1946. All he wants is a new Maurice Richard Montreal Canadiens jersey.  What he gets instead is a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey. Needless to say, he was devastated. This is a great book for early elementary students, especially sports crazy boys.  

"The Hockey Sweater" lends itself perfectly for social language groups.  One of the reasons is that this really happened to the author, Roch Carrier. Here are some ideas:

1. Identifying emotions:  Roch goes from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.  Students can identify how he is feeling and why he feels the way he does.  

2. Problem solving:  There are many opportunities to talk about solving problems.  What would you do if you were given the wrong jersey? What would you say to your mom? Would you have worn the jersey? How would you have dealt with the hockey coach or all the other children who tease him? What would you have done if you got a penalty? What would you have said if your friend showed up with the "enemies" jersey?

3. Getting to know about another:  This provides a great opportunity to work on conversation skills. What is your favourite sport, team, player?  Why?  What should the children do if they don't like another child's favourite team?  This also makes a great writing exercise.

Here is a great National Film Board video retelling the story.  If you are thinking about showing it to your students, just know that there is a little French at the start and the narrator has a Quebecois accent. 

Along with social language, it is great for targeting hockey related vocabulary, verbs and I have also had the children work on describing different hockey jerseys.  In addition, I have had the children design their own jersey (homework) then describe it the next time in therapy.  How would you use this book in therapy?