Sunday, September 27, 2009

Snappy Ducks From Discovery Toys

Rachel, my 2 year old little girl, has a new favorite toy! It's Snappy Ducks from Discovery Toys!

Snappy Ducks are available now from Discovery Toys and are perfect for your toddler! You will get a set of 24 sturdy ducks in a variety of colors that snap together super easily. Take them any where you want to play--they can even be used in the bath, which is good because Bathtime Bugs weren't helping us have a cry-free bath anymore (that's ok! they still rock...everyone needs variety!). Snappy Ducks come in a long box, but I prefer keeping them in a storage box for easy access.

There are so many things you can learn with your Snappy Ducks!
Pre-math skills-
Count your ducks!! Your child may be able to count to 100, but it's also important to count with 1:1 correspondence. (I expect my 3 year old students to count with 1:1 correspondence to 5 and my 4 year old students to 10).

Sort your ducks!! Put the blue ducks together, your orange ducks together, your yellow ducks together and your green ducks together. Sorting is an important skill for your toddler and preschooler--you need to sort objects before you can add them (you know--2 green ducks plus 1 orange duck equals 3 ducks!)

Make patterns with your ducks!! AB patterning is a precursor skill to learning math as well as a pre-reading skill. So, find your pattern--blue-red-blue-red.

Fine Motor Skills
Your Snappy Ducks are great for developing little hands. At first, it took a while for Rachel to be able to grasp the ducks appropriately to be able to get those ducks to snap. But, she's finally got it! The ducks also help with hand-eye coordination because it takes some precise movements to snap the ducks together.

Speech and Language Skills
Descriptive concepts, like long and short. Encourage your child to make some long rows and some short rows. Make sure to talk about the different sizes, including big, bigger, biggest.

Spatial concepts- Different concepts you can help teach are first, last, middle. When you snap the ducks together, have your child point out the first duck, last duck, etc. These concepts are also precursors to story telling...just remember, when you're putting pictures together for stories, go from left to right!

Articulation- Do you know any kids who leave of the /s/ sound? Well, when you are playing wiht your child, make sure you over emphasize the /s/ and say /ssssssssssnap/ as you snap your ducks together. Start out by modeling the sound, then see if your child can make it. Don't worry if she can't at first and says "nap"--just keep trying!

Some of the fun sentences I've heard Rachel say include:
"let's put the ducks together," "where's mommy duck?," "I have 2 ducks."

It's also just really fun to watch her think and learn!Now, in the photo, you can also see that she's put her duck in her Hammer Away! I don't recommend that...

Be sure to contact me if you have any questions about Snappy Ducks or any other Discovery Toys product!!

Happy Snapping!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ahoy There, Me Hearties!!

ARRR!! Saturday, September 19th be International Talk Like A Pirate Day!! Arrr!

Well, shiver me timbers! What better way to celebrate than with a fun Discovery Toys product! Let's take a look at

Ahoy, Pirate Pete!

Ahoy, Pirate Pete is a fun, interactive change-the-story book where kids can choose different elements of the story to have the adventures unfold different ways each time.

How do you do this?
Well, when you first receive your book, you will punch out little pictures and place them in the correct place in the book. This is your first learning task!! Visual discrimination and matching, plus work on fine motor skills to stick in the little tabs!!

As you read the book with your child, you are given options for how you want the story to unfold. Do you want Pete to have a pet dragon or a pet bird? Do you want Pete to look in the sky and see a bird or a spaceship? Once you choose, take the picture and place it in the story. The stories are endless!!

How can you use Ahoy, Pirate Pete to increase your child's speech and language skills?
Use this versatile book to help your child in:

Responding to Questions About Stories: After you read the book, ask your child questions. Who is on the ship? What did Pete see? Where was the octopus? Since the story changes every time, it's an extra challenge for your child! You're really helping his listening skills!

Retelling Stories: The ability to re-tell information is vital in your child's school success. He needs to be able to listen and attend, remember details, organize information and then tell the information in grammatically correct sentences with appropriate vocabulary. That's a lot!! Help your child by reading the book a couple of times and then having him tell the story--first with the book, then see if he can do it without.

Learning Vocabulary: You can even use Ahoy, Pirate Pete as a sneaky way to teach vocabulary! Categorizing (or putting similar words together) is a fantastic way to teach vocabulary. So, take all the pieces out of the book and have your child categorize! Put all the food together, all the ocean creatures together, all the things that fly together, etc, etc. Have your child label each item and tell you what the groups have in common. Lots of fun while learning!

Practicing Articulation Skills: Ok, as a speech-language pathologist, I love pirates!! Why? They have truly mastered the R sound!!! AARRRR matey! First, you should know that the /r/ sound isn't expected to be mastered until after age 6-7 or so. You should also know it's a really hard sound to learn!! But, pretending to be a pirate is a really fun way to practice the /r/ sound! So, on each page when your child sees Pete, have him make the "Pirate Sound" of /r/!! Just don't forget to tense up that tongue and raise the back.

Well, Shiver Me Timbers!! That's a lot of fine things you can do with this book! It is surely some great booty to your treasure chest of Discovery Toys swag! Smartly head on over to me website and get yer lads and lassies Ahoy, Pirate Pete!

Fair Winds and Happy Sailing to you, Matey!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What's Happening in my Classroom?

Today was the first day of school for some of my students! I have 3 classes--Mon/Wed/Fri in the am and pm (my 3 year olds) and Tues/Thurs am (my 4 year olds). So far, they seem like they'll be a lot of fun! *fingers crossed*

I base my class activities on vocabulary themes because I believe that teaching vocabulary in categories is the best way for children to learn new words. Themes/categories help kiddos put new words they encounter into little "filing cabinets" of similar words to expand their vocab.

What's the current theme? Back to School!
We've got vocab words like school, bus, teacher, book, pencil, crayons, friends, backpack, toys, blocks, etc.

How are we teaching these words?
Well, today, we played a game where students took turns opening the backpack and taking out a vocabulary item. They had to label items and maybe even say a sentence (like "I have a backpack").
We also worked on their listening skills by having them point to items or follow directions (like "point to the book," "point to something we use to cut" or "pick up the apple and put it in the blue backpack"). If they can't do any of these right away, we give them cues, like pointing or modeling for them.

We also did a coloring page (with crayons and a bus) to give them a chance to practice their crayon/pencil grasp--- My trick for getting the correct grasp?--breaking crayons in half! (by the way, this is a coloring, experiential activity, NOT a worksheet activity--blech!)

Finally, we used our Discovery Toys EZ Blocks!
EZ Blocks are great first building blocks because they have a grooved top and bottom to make sure that little ones' hands don't accidentally knock the blocks over. They are also a nice size for the little hands, too. Give your EZ Blocks a little shake--they make noise!! How fun and inviting is that? They are also inviting to the eye because they have some basic colors and shapes.

So, how can you use EZ Blocks in a speech and language development class?
Well, first off, "blocks" is one of our vocabulary words for this theme since blocks and toys are key items in a preschool classroom.
We also worked on requesting-- my kids are taught the phrase "I want ___" It's a pretty powerful phrase, if you think about it! A great way to meet your wants and needs! We only give the students 1 or 2 at a time so they will always have something to ask for. We're sneaky that way!
Some basic concepts were also targeted, like colors and shapes, but also concepts like "tall" and "short" or "loud" and "quiet." Who made the tallest tower?

Some of the phrases and sentences I heard used with my students were "I make a castle," "shake blue," and "it fall down!" When we heard these utterances, we modeled and expanded so the students could hear the correct sentence use ("oh, I am making a castle," "I am shaking the blue block" and "it is falling down!").

There is so much more that can be done with EZ Blocks from Discovery Toys! The kids are learning and having fun, too!! They are available here at my website.
Also, check out the new fall catalog to check out an EZ Blocks addition--
EZ Blocks Wheels & More!
Here's to a great school year with lots of learning and playing!

Happy building!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

It's September!! A DT teacher's special for you!

The month that brings chills to children everywhere and makes moms and dads give a sigh of relief.

Then, there's teachers. So many things to do!! Put the classroom back together. Clean out the spiders (yuck. but, true.). Meet new parents. Find class lists. Write lesson plans. Wonder what kind of group you'll have.

It was a great summer, but now it's time for a great new school year. To help my fellow school staff members out, I'd like to offer a special 10% savings off of any Discovery Toys order!


That's right! If you work in a school to help improve the life of children, I would like to offer you 10% savings any time you order from me (only orders made through e-mail, though!).

Why? Well, because being a teacher/classroom assistant/health clerk/principal etc. etc. is really a thankless job. Also one of the most difficult jobs out there. And, with budget cuts abound (at least in California), these folks need a break.
Why else? Because I believe in Discovery Toys educational products 100% and know they will enhance any classroom.

So, e-mail me anytime with your order and enjoy your 10% savings!

Happy shopping!

P.S. Have you seen the new Fall catalog?? What are you waiting for?!?