Mr. Potato Head

Mr. Potato HeadMr. Potato Head was one of the first toys in my collection starting out as a Speech-Language Pathologist.  Its a very motivating toy and is a great tool for early vocabulary and concepts.  During play, I usually have all the body parts in my possession.  I present each body part, one at a time, and model the appropriate vocabulary (e,g., “nose”) and wait for the child to imitate me before giving him the toy.  You can also offer two choices (e.g., “nose or hat?”) if the child already has the vocabulary in his repertoire.  To increase the complexity for children who already know body parts, you could also work on the functions of body parts (e.g., “You see with your eye.” “Your hear with your ears.”).  You could ask the child to fill in the blank, “You see with your…” to increase conceptual understanding.  You can also work on spatial concepts while putting on the facial parts (e.g., “Hat on!” “Put it above the nose.” “Put it below the mouth”).

Stuttering in Preschool Children-Fluency shaping techniques

When parents see their young preschool child stutters, it is a cause for alarm for many parents.  Parents who are concerned should consult with a  SLP, at their resident school district, to determine if their child is exhibiting developmental stuttering or may have signs of more severe, chronic stuttering. A trained SLP will have a better idea of how to advise you, and if therapy is needed to address the stuttering.  Often, when children are demonstrating patterns of stuttering, I will begin with the following strategy with students and parents: reduced speech rate (slow, turtle talk) and prolonged speech (stretching out words, especially the vowels).  I will ask parents to model a slower rate of speech, where words are stretched out.  Parents are advised to listen to the content of their child’s speech, not interrupt, and not verbally critique the child’s speech.  These are good beginning points for many preschool aged children, however getting a professional evaluation from an SLP is the best way to figure out what the best strategies are for you child.

Understanding and Using Basic Concepts

Learning basic concepts are very important in helping your child understand and follow through on directions given in the classroom setting.  By learning these words, your child will also become more descriptive in his or her verbal expression.  Some basic concepts that kindergarten and first graders will have to know include: front/back, between, beside, behind, above, and below.  These are fun to work on because they can be learned easily in a natural setting.  Here are some ways you can build in these concepts in a natural setting:

While writing: You can talk about what letters go above or below the lines.

While reading: You can talk about words that are in the center, or in the middle of the book.

You can also use body parts to reinforce concepts:  What is in the middle of your face?  What is above your mouth?  What is below your nose?  What is between your eyes?

While walking or playing:  Walk in front of me.  Stand beside me.

Some other basic concepts for first graders include:  first/last, wide/narrow, longer/shorter, part/whole, closer/farther, thin/thick, similarities/differences

Preschool and Kindergarten Vocabulary Checklist

This checklist can be used by parents to see where their child needs to grow in terms of vocabulary.  By going through this checklist, you may find out that your child is not identifying or expressing many animals or body parts.   This will help you to identify words that you can teach your child.  Click on this link:  Kindergarten_Vocab_List

Building receptive vocabulary (e.g., understanding of vocabulary words):  Asking “where is ___?” questions; Instructing your child to show you certain items.  For example, you can say: “show me ___” or “point to ____.”

Building expressive vocabulary (e.g., verbal expression of words): Asking simple, “what’s this?” questions or labeling items together while playing; Attach the nouns with verbs while you are playing.  For example, you can say: “Kick ball” or “roll ball.”  This will hep your child build more vocabulary.


Following 1-2 step directions

In preschool and kindergarten, your child will be asked to follow 1-2 step directions.  Directions will get more complex eventually, involving descriptive concepts and prepositions.

Some descriptive concepts include: colors, size (big, little), shapes, long, short, wet, dry, dirty, clean, hot, and cold. Give your child one step directions using a descriptive concept.  This can be done while you are playing, eating, and doing every day tasks.  For example, you can say:  “Johnny, give me the long crayon.”

Some prepositional concepts include: on, off, in, out, up, down, under, behind, and in front.  Give your child one step direction using a preposition to give your child practice at home.  This can be done in a natural setting.  For example, you can say:  “Put the ball behind the shelf.”

Here is a fun website your child will love to get them practicing with these directions: