ILI’s September 2011 Featured Educational Toy: Mr. Potato Head!

Featured Educational Toy for September 2011 is Mr. Potato Head!Mr. Potato Head is a fantastic toy our therapists use to encourage speech-language, social skills, fine motor, and sensory processing development in children with special needs.

To encourage clear speech sounds, our Speech-Language Pathologists focus on the beginning sounds in words to promote age-appropriate articulation skills in children. For example: “na-na-na-nose, ma-ma-ma-mouth, tee-tee-tee-teeth, sh-sh-sh-shoes” all while holding the body part up close to the therapists mouth. This encourages the child to watch the placement of the tongue and lips for each sound and helps the child say each sound correctly.

You can practice this speech technique at home with your child while playing, as well as, having them point to each body part “Point to ___, Show me ____, Where’s _____?” talk about what each body part is used for “eyes to see, nose to smell, mouth to talk, teeth to eat, arms to wave/give high five, feet/shoes to jump/walk…” etc.

To encourage social skills, encourage your child to role play using two potato heads. Take turns saying hello and asking each other questions, “What’s your name? Are you a boy or a girl? How do you feel today? (happy/sad/tired)…” etc. This will help your child learn to take verbal and non-verbal turns in a conversation, understand question forms, and practice carrying on a conversational exchange for 1-2 turns.

To encourage fine motor skills, our Occupational Therapists, encourage children to place Mr. Potato Head’s body parts into the appropriate holes using different finger grasps. For example, start with thumb and index finger, then thumb with third finger, thumb with ring finger, and finally thumb with little finger. Try this with both hands. By using different grasps, the child is working different muscles within the hand which promotes overall hand strength and increased dexterity.

Our Occupational Therapists also work on improving children’s sensory skills for processing the sense of touch. First, place all of Mr. Potato Head’s “body parts” into a small brown/colored bag or hide them under a small blanket or towel. You can use just a few or all of the pieces. Have the child find a specific piece (eyes, nose, mouth) using their hands only to find the piece. The more awareness we have of the feel of things in our hands, the more apt we are to respond efficiently and appropriately to them. For example, sensing where a pencil is touching our fingers while writing, allows us to adjust position and pressure while writing.

Have fun playing with your child, and use these tips and techniques to encourage improved speech-language, social, fine motor, and sensory processing skills with your child. Make sure to sign up for our newsletter to receive updates on our monthly featured educational toys and games among other news, tips and techniques. You may purchase your Mr. Potato Head from our Developmental Depot.