As we find ourselves stuck at home and looking for ways to entertain our little ones, I have desperately turned to my SLP therapy closet to pull out some new and engaging tasks for my three boys. Often considered “off limits” to my boys, this closet is like a treasure trove of untouched and never-before-seen games, tasks, and activities. Perhaps my most prized possession is my collection of carefully selected tiny toys - small toys collected over the years from toy bins, happy meals, kinder eggs, and otherwise broken toy sets that I now use daily in my therapy sessions.
If your house is anything like mine, you have shelves full of books. You probably also have bins of bits and pieces- tiny objects, characters, and parts that are just itching to find their way into a favourite story. Why not bring them together to make, what I call, “What if...? stories”.
Here’s how it goes... Start your story as usual. As you turn a new page, pull out a tiny toy from a pillowcase or sealed box (no peeking- the stories are way more fun that way!). Now, instead of telling the story the way we’ve read it a hundred times, see how the story would change with the addition of the new element. So, we all know that Goldilocks found a house in the woods, but what if there was a robot inside when she opened the door? Sure, the mouse and the Gruffalo met lots of interesting animals during their walk in the woods, but what if they had stumbled upon a rocket behind the trees? And what would have happened if the Three Little Pigs had met Batman before they started to build their houses?
The options are endless and each story can become a “never before” version of an old favourite. From an SLP perspective, this type of task calls on a multitude of language and memory-based functions, working such aspects as story recall, flexible thinking, prediction, verbal formulation, and story grammar. If you are working on a specific speech sound for articulation practice, pull toys starting with specific sounds. Want to challenge your kids memory? See if they can recreate the story again tomorrow...
I’ll admit that I love a good adventure and books are one of my favourite ways to escape. Throw in some new elements and the possibilities are endless!!