Room on the Broom…Halloween Speech Therapy Ideas for Toddlers
In this Therapy Tip of the Week video (at the bottom of the page), we’re discussing the last little book in this Halloween series, Room on the Broom. This is a super cute book appropriate for children at the upper end of the developmental range for those of us who work in birth to 3 programs. Kids with receptive language delays may not enjoy this book since it contains very rich vocabulary that may be beyond what they can process, but older preschoolers will certainly love it.
- Set Up The preparation piece including what you’ll do to make this book exciting and meaningful for a child.
- Reading the Book Planning how you’ll read and what you will do to specifically target language for each child.
- Play activity Designing a real-life activity that makes book come to life! This is especially important for toddlers with receptive language and cognitive delays. They need experience to help the words in the book make sense AND to give them a reason to stay with you as you read.
Set Up…MANIPULATIVES can make a book more appealing.
One way to help a child stay with you as you read is to provide MANIPULATIVES or objects a child can hold and handle as they listen.
You may think it’s counter-intuitive to give a child something else to do rather than focus on the book, but I promise, manipulatives work well to keep busy toddlers engaged (and still!) as you read. Essentially, you’re giving them something relevant to do so that they don’t have to get up and move around to fill their internal drive to explore.
For this activity, I Googled the book title Room on the Broom and found a set of pictures with characters from the book on this blog. After I downloaded, printed, and laminated each character, I attached clothes pins so kids can easily make the witch and her friends play. I found sets of small brooms too (from Hobby Lobby and WalMart) to make recreating the story more fun.
Reading the book together…Focus on receptive language too!
I plan to use this book for targeting lots of receptive language goals, depending on where a child is functioning. Here are some ideas for different developmental levels:
You can begin with the obvious by asking a child to identify objects by pointing such as:
- Where’s the cat?
- Find the witch.
- Show me the hat.
What’s even more fun is to have a toddler follow simple, interactive directions like:
- Pat the dog.
- Kiss the owl.
- Look – that witch’s hat blew off. Show me how to blow!
Reading the book together…Choose correct expressive language goals.
Kids who are further along developmentally may be able to answer simple questions about the book, but most toddlers and preschoolers won’t be able to do that until you’ve read the book many, many times.
Many toddlers will be able to name the pictures as you talk about them. If you’ll use the “close” method, it will make this task even easier. Begin a sentence and wait for a child to fill-in-the-blank. For example, “The witch wears a _____,” and wait for the child to say “hat.” If a child doesn’t respond, use lots of visual cues too – either with your manipulatives or pictures in the book.
For toddlers who aren’t talking very much yet, try easier options with play sounds and exclamatory words. The book is full of those opportunities for animal sounds and words like “Uh oh” and “Oh no!”
The most fun part of the book for most toddlers (and me!) is your follow-up activity. Ideas for this story include using your manipulatives to retell the story. Be careful about trying to elicit any book word for word! You want a child’s responses to be spontaneous and not echolalic!
Another fantastic play idea for active (any!) toddler is pretending to fly on the broom like the witch and her friends. Use a small one from a pretend housekeeping set or mom’s broom. Either way will be tons of fun!
One last idea is also take-off from the plot. In this book, the witch’s hat blows off and the characters must look to find it. Get your own witch’s hat and hide it in various places around the room while the child closes his eyes. Help a child follow directions to find the hat based on his language level. At the most basic level, say things like, “Look! The hat’s in the chair!” or “The hat is on the table. Look!” Point to help direct a child’s focus and you’ll be targeting joint attention. For kids who are much further along with language, you’ll be able to target directions with functions like, “Look where you take a bath.”
With this book, we talked about strengthening 3 different areas:
- Developing a longer attention span by using manipulatives
- Receptive language by following simple and more complex directions
- Imitating at various levels with actions, play sounds and exclamatory words, all valuable in-between steps before a child is able to imitate words
Each of these is prerequisite skill for talking. Sometimes we forget about just how important these skills are for late talkers. You can find out more great ideas for working on these areas in my new therapy manual Let’s Talk About Talking. Pre-order your copy now!
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