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February 12, 2014

How I Use This Toy: Wooden Puzzles with Doors

Do you have this puzzle or one something like it?  A wooden one with doors with magnetic objects hiding inside?  I'll bet you do.  It seems to be one of those staple items that all SLP's keep in their bag of tricks.  I've been getting A LOT of use out of this one over the past several days and was reminded how versatile it can be.  I want to share my ideas for using it in treatment with you.

Make a color copy of each of the magnetic pieces.  Cut them out and laminate them.  Use these cards for matching and following directions.  Before the session, I mixed up the placement of the magnetic pieces, making sure they were hiding behind doors of places they didn't belong.  I put the cow in the oven, the car in the lunch box, and the turkey in the present.  When we were ready to play, I showed the child one of the cards and asked them to find the match.  The child looked behind the doors until he or she found the match.  Then I chose another card, and repeated the sequence.  Here are some of the goals we worked on while doing this:
     *  Answering Wh-questions:  Where is the _____?  What is this?  Where does it belong?
     * Asking Wh-questions:  Where is it?  What's next?
     *  Negatives:  It's not there.
     *  Answering Yes/No questions:  Is this a cow?  Does a car go in a cookie jar?
     *  Using the pronoun "I":  I found it!  I did it!
     * Using CVCV words:  open, hiding
     *  Saying "my turn"
     *  Talking about silly matches:  giving a reason why a cow doesn't belong in the oven.
     *  Talking about why an object and a door do go together.
     *  Let the child be the teacher.  Give him the cards and have him tell you which one to find.

Just adding these simple cards to this very intriguing puzzle really expanded the opportunities for increased language use.  I found that my kids stayed engaged with this activity far longer than when it was presented as a simple game rather than using it as-is.

How about this idea:

Hide something other than the magnetic piece behind one of the doors.  I chose to hide a heart because it's Valentine's week, but you could use anything:  Picture cards with speech sounds, a picture of the child or his parent, whatever you want.  Then practice phrases such as, "Is it in the bird cage?"  "Is it behind oven door?" and other concepts.  Kids love hide and seek!  This one's sure to be a hit.

Have fun!


  1. I love this puzzle! I love the many uses! I also use this for a few kids that are learning to use Proloquo. I use it to comment " ms Shannon open garage". "Ms. Shannon close present". Or have the student open and they note on the iPad " I open cookie jar". We then can do lots of wh questions. Love these puzzles! Thanks for some new ideas for it!

    1. Thanks for sharing some of the ways you use these puzzles! I don't have any kids using AAC at the moment, so I tend to overlook goals for AAC. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Would like to know where I can purchase wooden puzzle with doors. Looks very interesting and helpful.

    1. I've seen it many places that carry Melissa and Doug toys. Michael's craft stores, Target, and specialty toy stores come to mind. You could also find it online at Amazon.

  3. I found mine at Home Goods.