Washing Machine…Expand Pretend Play..Therapy Tip of the Week 3.9.12

Here’s this week’s segment of Therapy Tip of the Week for March 9, 2012:


Therapy Tip of the Week 3.9.12







This week’s activities will give you some new ideas to expand your play with dolls, teach names for clothing items, work in some fine motor practice, and even target categorization and/or matching.

Remember to use these activities for receptive language practice too! At the easiest levels, you’ll have a child find the clothing you item you name. Say, “Where’s a hat?” or “Find a shirt.”

If a child likes using clothes pins to hang the clothes or if you’re lucky enough to find that cute washing machine toy, you can target functional directions such as, “Let’s hang up some pants,” or “Get a dress and put it in the washing machine.”

You can also target cognitive skills such as sorting by color, but I love this activity to teach grouping by category. Use several of each kind of baby clothes; for example, gather several shirts, pants, socks, hats, or shorts. Sort them by category saying, “Let’s get all the shirts.” After that, you’ll find all the socks, etc…

In the video I showed you the darling felt clothes I made for this activity cheaply! If you can’t draw your own patterns for clothes, search for a template online.

If you’re working with preschoolers or a toddler with higher level language processing, you can use the felt clothes you made to target multi-step directions or identifying objects with two attributes. For example, “Find 2 dresses and 1 shirt” or “Give me the purple shorts.”

The possibilities for expressive language with these activities are wide open! You can have a child imitate or name the clothing items as you take them out of the container, hang them on a drying rack, or wash them. If a child is fairly imitative, offer choices such as, “Do you want pants or socks?” You can practice requesting as you withhold the items (for only 3-5 prompts!) and wait for a child to tell you what she wants next. You can also practice phrases with requests by modeling, “I want _____,” or “____ please.”

I know I’ll get this question, so I’ll go ahead and tell you that my little washing machine is from the brand Delicious Boutique. I bought mine at Walmart in January during the after Christmas clearance sale for $5.50. I think this toy may also be available on amazon, but it’s more expensive. I’d still have paid full price for it because this kind of toy has wide appeal for toddlers and preschoolers. Maybe you’ll be able to keep your eyes open and find a good deal! It’s a winner!

Let me know if you’re inspired! I love your feedback!

Until next week….



  1. […] In this teachmetotalk.com Therapy Tip of the Week pediatric speech-language pathologist Laura Mize, M.S., CCC-SLP, ends her 3 part series with tips for using toys with kids who prefer visual input. These are kids who like items that spin or have blinking lights, who are attracted to visual information such as letters and numbers, and who opt to watch DVDs or play with apps on a device rather than play with toys. This week Laura shows you a Ferris Wheel and discusses how to “play” with this activity for kids who like a visual hook. The first goal is to target cause and effect – a child learns that he has to do something to get something. Pointing skills, or turning on the toy with an index finger, is another easy, early goal for this toy. Helping a child learn to complete an entire task or whole play routine is another fantastic early goal for toddlers with developmental delays. Teach new vocabulary with this toy. I pair Littlest Pet Shop toys with this My Little Pony Ferris Wheel. Laura models exactly how to simplify your language with exactly what to say to teach a child to understand new words (receptive language) and discusses how talking too much with a child who doesn’t follow directions or understand very many words can overstimulate or overwhelm him. Giving choices is a great way to work on receptive language too. For expressive language goals, begin at the gestural imitation level with dancing to the music or pointing and using simple sign language to request or label. When a child is ready to vocalize, begin with helping a child start to imitate early play sounds like animal noises. This toy is great for teaching new prepositions and working on vowel sound intelligiblity at the same time with prepositions such as in, out, up, under and around. You can certainly teach new verbs. Laura also explains how to use “anchor” words for early phrase practice.If you choose your animals carefully, you can also target a variety of speech goals – changing the vowel from syllable to syllable like dino, bunny, turtle, or monkey. Another toy that’s frequently used in this way is a pretend washing machine and a Therapy Tip of the Week video with this toy is found here: http://teachmetotalk.com/2012/03/09/therapy-tip-of-the-week-3912/ […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.