Mr. Potato Head
Just like the versatility of potatoes in the kitchen (chips, mash, bake, puree, jacket), the possibilities are truly endless when using Mr. Potato Head in speech therapy.
Here's why we love it:
1. Vocabulary! We can talk about the different objects (shoes, hats, arms, eyes, nose, mouth, etc) when working to increase a child's vocabulary and focus on NOUNS (naming words). We can do the same for VERBS (doing words) and talk about wearing (the Potato Head is wearing shoes), looking/seeing (The Potato head is looking at.../what can she see?), pushing (push the arms in, push the ears on), wanting (I want the yellow arms, the Potato wants a hat), pulling (pull the eyes off, pull the mouth off), taking (take off his hat) and so much more.
2. Language expansion! We can use it to help EXPAND what a child says, for example, a child might say "shoes", but we can help them expand that into a bigger phrase by saying "red shoes. He's wearing red shoes. Big, red shoes. He's wearing big red shoes on his feet."
3. Pronouns (talking about he/she, him/her, his/hers). A child might refer to every person or thing as "he." We work on this by talking about boys and girls, knowing that we are talking about a girl when we say 'she' and we are talking about a boy when we say 'he.' We might then build the Potatoes, building a girl one and talk about all the different things SHE is wearing or looks like e.g. "She is wearing shoes. She has pink hair. She has long zigzag arms."
4. Recasting language. Thinking about the above goal of pronouns, we can "recast" a sentence that the child has said using a mistake a child has made and shape it into a sentence using the right word. For example, the child might say, "Him is wearing a hat", we can 'recast' this by saying: "Yes, she is wearing a hat. She is wearing a red hat. What a nice red hat that she is wearing." We can do this for LOTS of other language goals, this is purely one example.
5. Requesting. We can also work on requesting by keeping some pieces out of reach and waiting for the child to request the one they want.
6. Social skills/behaviour! Once the Potatoes are built, we can act out some scenes with them. Maybe one Potato has said something mean to the other one, so we can talk about what they can say to each other instead of getting angry or hitting, etc.
7. Predicting. When acting out scenes with the Potatoes, we can think about what might happen next. We might set up one Potato with a sad face that's fallen over and the other one standing over looking at him/her. "What might happen next?" Maybe the standing Potato helps the other one up. Maybe it gets down on the ground with it and they both go to sleep.
8. Inferencing. Similar to above, but we can think and talk about what has happened to get the Potatoes to this point in the scene.
9. Turn taking. Sometimes the kids we see have a lot of trouble with turn taking and this can be during play or in conversation. We can practice taking turns to choose a piece to assemble our Potato Heads, we can practice taking turns talking about them.
10. Sentence structure. Knowing how to structure sentences can sometimes be a bit tricky. We can target subject (person/thing), verb (does), object (a thing). For example, a child might say "want mouth", and we can say "I (subject) want (verb) a mouth (object)" "The Potato (subject) wants (verb) a mouth (object)" to model the sentence structure goal. - Claudia Fregona