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February 22, 2012

Valentines and Vegetables? Why Not?

This year Valentine's Day happened to occur while our Grocery Store theme was in full swing. So how does one mix Valentines with vegetables?  By adding a Post Office, of course!  Let me explain.

I found these wonderful metal mailboxes in the Target dollar section and bought one for each child on my caseload.  We decorated them with foam hearts and Valentine stickers, which (of course) they earned for saying target words correctly or by completing whatever treatment task fit their needs.  I displayed them together in "The Post Office", which was a cardboard storage box with dividers (ex. a box to store bottles or glasses) laid on its side.

I used my Cricut cutter to make a pile of Valentine notes
for the kids to use to send messages to each other.  I've noticed that the kids in my practice really enjoy knowing that other kids come to "Speech Class", since I work with them one-on-one and they rarely see another child at my office.  I think they are relieved to know that other kids need a little extra help with their talking, too.  Since I started displaying "evidence" of other kids around the room, I have found that the kids will ask questions about the others and make comments about their artwork or props (ex. their mailbox).  Sometimes it gets a little tricky answering their questions due to confidentiality issues, but for the most part, I can usually provide something to satisfy their curiosity.  The bottom line is that they really enjoy interacting with the other kids, even if it is remotely.

The messages we wrote to each other for this activity were riddles.  I had each child choose a person he or she would like to send a message to, and then told them to find an object from the grocery store they would like to make a riddle about.  First we would describe the object by listing its attributes and talking about which category it might belong to.  Next we would talk about when we might eat that item.  Then, together we would compose the riddle.  For my preschool children, I would have the child dictate the riddle to me and I would write it on the note, letting them sign their own name at the bottom.  The older kids enjoyed writing the messages themselves and loved trying to stump the other older kids by creating more difficult riddles.  Here are some examples of the riddles they wrote:

In many cases, the riddles the kids wrote missed important identifying information, which I used for additional teaching moments.  If the receiver of the message needed more information, he or she would need to ask me questions such as "Is it a fruit or a vegetable?" or "What time of day would I eat it?"  After they made a guess to answer the riddle, they wrote their answer on the back side of the note and put it back in the sender's mailbox.  The kids loved receiving mail in their mailboxes and were excited about sending mail to others.  I loved the fact that I could work on a multitude of goals with one simple activity!  We worked on articulation by choosing objects for other kids based on the speech sounds they are working on.  We worked on carryover of speech sounds by including words that started or ended with a target sound in the riddles.  And we worked on describing objects, sentence formulation, processing auditory information, and answering questions.  I will definitely be repeating this activity next year!

Nice chatting with you!


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