So your child’s gotten her cochlear implant, and has started to develop listening skills. Now what—once she’s started hearing sounds, what can you do to help? Here are some games that you can play with a child who’s had her cochlear implant for about a year.
The best thing to do is to start simple and focus on a few meaningful sounds.
Here are some games that are intentionally simple. They’ll give you the chance to share a few sounds and meaningful words with your child.
Play with Cardboard Boxes
For this one you need a handful of cardboard boxes of various sizes, and some extra toys like balls or blocks.
Stacking and Unstacking
- Stack all the boxes inside each other and put them in front of your child.
- Show your child the biggest box and let her peek inside. While she’s doing that, say words like “Look, more boxes!”
- Quickly close the box again. Encourage your child to look inside again by saying “Look inside, look! More boxes!”
- Let your child pull all the boxes out, and if she has trouble don’t be afraid to help her out. You could count the boxes as they come out: “one box, two boxes, three boxes… Wow! Look at all of these boxes!” and so on.
- Once your child has pulled all the boxes out, play a game by talking about the sizes of the boxes. You can do this by saying “Look, here’s a big box!” while showing her the biggest box.
- Then, keep doing the same thing with the rest of the boxes in decreasing size.
- Once your child has brought you a few boxes, start stacking them on top of each other. Encourage your child to join you by calling her name to get her attention. Then, talk about stacking the boxes on top of each other while doing the activity together.
- This is like peek-a-boo, but with boxes. Grab a few of the boxes and some of those balls or blocks we mentioned above.
- Show your child the balls and boxes, and then put the balls in one or two of the boxes.
- Ask your child, “Where’s the ball? Can you see the ball?” See if she can pick out the right box with the ball in it.
- If she points at the right box, pull out the ball and say “Yes! It’s a ball!”
- You could also play a game by rolling or throwing the ball. Say to your child “Let’s roll the ball” or “Let’s throw the ball!” and then roll or throw the ball together.
Play with Dolls
For slightly older children, like ages 4+, playing with dolls can be a good way to introduce more ideas.
Grab a doll, dirty and clean sets of doll clothes, and a box filled with stuff to wash the doll: water in a jug, a cup, a bowl, soap, and a towel.
- Dress the doll in dirty clothes and hide it, around a corner or behind the box. Then bring it out so your child can see it: “peek-a-boo!”
- Let your child hold the doll and play with it.
- Then look at the doll and smell it using gestures: wrinkle your nose and say, “Eww! It’s dirty!”
- Then let your child peek into the box and pull out the washing stuff. Give each thing a name: “here’s the water, the doll’s bathtub, the soap for cleaning,” and so forth.
- Take off one of the doll’s clothing articles and then let your child remove the rest. As you do this you can name each of the pieces of clothing: “Shirt, pants, shoes, socks…”
- Grab some of the soap and water and start washing the doll. Then, let your child take the doll and finish.
- Once the doll is clean and dry you can re-dress it with the clean clothes. Here too you can name the clothes: ask your child “where’s the shirt?” and have her grab the shirt, continuing on through until the doll is fully dressed again.
- Remember to talk through your actions as you are doing them. It’s important for your child to hear you speaking so that they can build an understanding of speech.
Finished with these activities and want more? We’ve got them! Here are some suggestions:
This post was written with help from Julie Kosaner, a pediatric rehabilitation specialist.
What games do you play with your child who has a cochlear implant? Let us know in a comment below and we’ll give a free Mellie the MED-ELephant doll to our favorite game!