AACtual Therapy: Use Your Best Spud to Teach Vocabulary With Tanna Neufeld

June 20, 2013 by - 2 Comments

AACtual Therapy: Use Your Best Spud for Teaching Vocabulary With Tanna Neufeld
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AACtual Therapist Tanna Neufeld comes through again, putting a prAACtical touch on an activity we all know and love. Tanna has generously shared both her ideas and the communication boards that she uses for this activity. You can download them in our eToolBox or go to the links at the end of this post. Tanna has great intervention tips (love her 80/20 idea!) that are prAACtical and effective for keeping kids engaged and learning.

Mr. Potato Head is one of my favorite therapy tools for working with all kids, but especially beginning communicators.  This awesome spud is not only a versatile toy-ripe for building, pretending, and interacting-but also a great tool for modeling vocabulary.  For those little ones that you can keep engaged beyond the putting in and out of the building stage (tap into that good old fashioned, therapeutic use of self!), this toy really goes the distance.

AACtual Therapy: Use Your Best Spud to Teach Vocabulary With Tanna Neufeld

I have two boards that I use in combination with my core language communication books that I use with many of my kids ongoing.  One board has vocabulary for building the potato head and the other board words related to actions.   Both boards also include some common core words, repair words, and simple comments.   For those kids who can manage the complexity, I will use these two boards together or will add the activity specific vocabulary to the fringe row on their core words board.  For those who need a little less clutter, I’ll use the boards by  themselves, focusing on the language level and vocabulary that most follows the child’s lead and modeling just beyond that point.  I really love these boards for parent coaching and carryover because they capture words that not many moms and dads think of talking about when they’re participating in this activity with their children.

AACtual Therapy: Use Your Best Spud to Teach Vocabulary With Tanna Neufeld

AACtual Therapy: Use Your Best Spud to Teach Vocabulary With Tanna Neufeld

I find that it is really easy to focus on the body parts and their names during this activity, but less obvious to think about the natural commenting opportunities and action words that Potato Head can teach.  I also find that moms and dads get stuck on putting the pieces in the right places and aren’t always aware of the communication opportunities that arise when things end up looking silly or just don’t seem to fit.  These boards allow for lots of aided language input at the 1-2 word level and remind parents (and us!) to talk in pictures beyond noun labels.AACtual Therapy: Use Your Best Spud to Teach Vocabulary With Tanna Neufeld

For many of my kids, Potato Head is a gateway into expanding constructive and pretend play skills too, setting the stage for even more vocabulary building opportunities in the future.  Since many of my little ones have trouble using their hands, I have found that adding some handles to that slippery spud’s body helps the little guys hold on while building and putting a bit of velcro on the pieces and the body helps the pieces to stay in when Potato is doing his action rich song and dance!  If you keep this activity simple, focusing on 80% aided language input and 20% expressive expectations, you can’t go wrong and you’ll have a blast!

You can download Tanna’s communication boards at our eToolbox or click here and here. Want more great ideas? Check out some of Tanna’s other AACtual Therapy posts.

AACtual Therapy: Use Your Best Spud to Teach Vocabulary With Tanna Neufeld

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This post was written by Carole Zangari

2 Comments

  • Beth Ahmad says:

    I’d like to use this quote from the article: “If you keep this activity simple, focusing on 80% aided language input and 20% expressive expectations, you can’t go wrong and you’ll have a blast!” May I please have Tanna Neufeld’s credentials so I can credit her for the quote? Thank you!

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