Monday, January 3, 2011

January 2011

Happy New Years!!! I hope that you all have a year that is filled with joy and balance and lots of communication :)

I am from the Midwest, so when I think of January, I think of very cold weather and lots of snow. And even in the south we get "colder" days than usual. So, let's think about what we can focus on, to pop language for the month of January.

Words to focus on this month might include:

1. "cold", "brr" continue as good ones to focus on. Include the motion of "shivering" by shivering your arms when you say "cold" or "brr" to make it easier for your child to imitate, as well as make this more fun.

2. You can talk about the extra clothing that you might be wearing "coat, hat, boots, mittens, scarf" and concepts like "on and off" when it comes to that clothing. Remember to mix things up and maybe put the hat on your child's foot and just look expectantly to see if they react to the "mistake". Or give your child a choice..."do you want your hat or your mittens next" and show them each item and let them pick, label, point or say their choice.

3. "snow, snowman, snowflake, shovel, snowplow, snowball, ice, ice skates, etc. etc." Even if you live in the south you should let your child be exposed to these words. It will expand both the vocabulary of words they understand as well as the words they say.

4. Don't forget to add gestures or signs in addition to the words to help your child communicate even quicker.

5. Remember that the words may not sound exact when your child first tries them. But that's OK!! So, cold might sound like ko; and brrr might sound like bu; and snow might sound like no; and coat might sound like tote; and snowball might sound like nobaw, but give your child the credit and get excited about these approximations. Praise them and say, "yes, snowball".

Oral motor and food ideas:
1. So, bring some of that snow inside and taste it, or if you are worried about dirty snow you can crush some ice cubes and make your own snow. You can put flavors on the snow and taste them. Some flavoring might even freeze into a solid piece on top of the snow and would be fun to crunch. Have your child use their tongue to taste (even a snowcone would be great) or use a straw. Let your imagination go.

2. Hot chocolate is a wonderful taste in January. Try hot chocolate with peppermint flavoring or vanilla flavoring. Float some marshmallows in the hot chocolate to taste. If you are worried about it being too hot, make the instant with warm water from the tap. There are even recipes for frozen hot chocolate online. Yum!

3. Soups and stews are common when the weather gets cold so trying tastes of these might be fun too. Don't forget to float some fish crackers or crunch up different flavors to top them off. You can drink soup through a straw if it's creamy and doesn't have chunks. If you have a child that doesn't like vegetables you can always puree a vegetable soup and then add lots of noodles (kids usually like noodles) and there you go. Serve the soup in a cup for a different experience or in a fun snowman mug. Also, don't forget chili for the children that crave a more intense, spicy flavor in their mouths.

4. Speaking of vegetables, try serving frozen peas right from the bag. Most children don't see this as a vegetable, you can talk about the "cold/brr" food and maybe some more vegetables will get into your child's mouth.

5. Buy those snowball Hostess cakes and "make" a snowman by putting three on the plate or just talking about snowballs and then eating them up.

6. If it is snowing, go outside and stick out your tongue and catch snowflakes...this is great fun and good oral motor practice.

Continue including your child in the preparation of the food which makes tasting more tempting.

Creative Ideas:
1. Get outside, in the snow and play. Make snowmen, snow angels, snow mountains to climb, etc. Dress the snowmen with hats and scarves...another opportunity to talk about clothing items. Also talk about the body parts, eyes, nose, mouth, head and tummy too. Put water and food coloring into squirt bottles and "paint" your snow creations. Make a snow animal and let your child sit on it...."on, off" will be practiced over and over.

2. If you are in the south try making snowmen out of sand at the beach or even in your sandbox. They don't have to be big to be fun.

3. Bring a bucket of snow into the house (or make your own) and pour into the sink, put on mittens and play with the snow. Add little figurines or trucks to plow the snow, hide in the snow, etc. Talk about the actions your child is doing "pushing, patting, making; etc." in addition to labeling the creations that they are making.

4. Play "stick the hat on the snowman". Draw a snowman's head on a piece of paper, add eyes, nose, mouth and then make a hat out of black paper. Have your child stick the hat on the snowman's head by putting tape on the back of the hat. More vocabulary practice "hat, up, oh no, pretty, etc".

5. This idea can be under food and creative. Cover your table with a plastic tablecloth or put a protective tablecloth under your child's chair; put a bib on your child or remove their shirt and bring out some coolwhip....yes, it looks just like snow. You can taste it, of course, but you can also drive your cars through it like snowplows, or they can get "stuck" in the snow. You can hide frozen peas in it and find them and eat them. You can make roads through it, or just squish it with your hands or take a lick of it. You can sprinkle pixie stixs powder on it (snowing) and taste that too. Let your imagination go.

Book suggestion: The Snowman is a book that has no words. It would be fun to talk about together. Maybe look for a board book version so you don't have to worry about ripped pages.

Movie night out suggestion for mom and dad: The movie "The King's Speech" is really well done and is about stuttering. My husband loved the movie, so it's not just for people interested in speech therapy :)