I’m so excited to introduce a brand new blog series – Toys as Tools! At least once a month, I’ll stop in and share ways to use some of my favorite toys in speech-language therapy. I know that I often say that books are my favorite therapy tools, but toys come in as a very close second! 🙂
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Today, I want share the Critter Clinic! This is one of my absolute favorite toys, because it’s designed to elicit so much language! I would not be surprised if the designer of this toy is a speech-language pathologist! haha
This toy comes with a variety of clinic accessories. There are six doors and a set of keys. What I love is that every lock is different and they keys are color coded! This requires students to match up the correct key to the correct door! It also comes with two little animals (cat and dog). You can easily add your own little trinkets to go inside too!
There are so many skills you can tackle with this toy!
1. Prepositions: There are so many location words that you can practice! You can address over, under, next to, beside, between, in front, behind, top, bottom, etc
2. Directions: This is one of my absolute favorite toys to use for following directions. You can say “Put the cat behind the red door” or “After you put the dog behind the blue door, put the cat in front of the red door.” The possibilities are endless!
3. Vocabulary: This toy comes with a variety of clinic accessories such as a thermometer, stethoscope, and shot. All of the accessories are stored in the roof of the clinic! You can also add more animals and work on animal vocabulary! I checked and the Little People Farm Animals and Little People Zoo Animals fit inside each compartment!
4. Categories: If you add a variety of animals to this toy, you can work on farm vs. zoo animals or pets vs. ocean animals. You can also add in other non-animal items to work on even more types of categories!
5. Where Questions: Location is a huge part of this toy! You can put animals behind various doors and ask, “Where is the dog?” or “Where is the cat?” I love this toy, because it helps students get more specific such as “behind the red door” or “in front of the orange door.”
6. Adjectives: This is perfect for students who are working on color vocabulary or describing. I love that each door is a different color and there is a matching key!
7. Comparing/Contrasting: Students can compare/contrast the various animals that are staying at the clinic!
8. Articulation: This game is super fun to use with students with articulation goals! You can obtain objects/cards that feature the student’s sound and lock them behind each door. After the student unlocks an item they have to practice the word 10 times! Or after they practice an item, then can lock it up! You can also have students use carrier phrases! This game comes with a shot, which is perfect for students working on /sh/. It also comes with a a thermometer, which is great for students working on /th/.
9. Fluency/Stuttering: This toy is great for practicing easy onsets and light contacts! The words over, under, in front are great for practicing easy onsets (I usually stick with vowels or /h/) and the words behind, bottom, beside would be great for practicing light contacts! Students can also learn about the different types of stuttering while using this toy. You can assign each animal a type of stuttering (ex. Carly Cat uses repetitions and Dougie Dog uses blocks). The doors of the clinic can also be used as a gigantic pacing stick! Students can touch each door as they are talking to practice a slower or more relaxed rate.
10. Synonyms: Since this is a clinic, it’s a great opportunity to learn about different words that mean sick (ill and unhealthy). You can say let’s give the cat a shot, because she feels ill. Let’s give the dog a shot, because he feels sick.
Have you ever used the Critter Clinic in therapy? What goals did you tackle?
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