So, your child has just had their cochlear implant activated and they have begun CI rehabilitation. Your child has probably used all sorts of cool props and special toys in their CI rehabilitation sessions with their therapist. This post will give you some ideas of common items at home that you can use for keeping your child’s therapy fun and engaging!
Remember—the most important tool to help develop your child’s language skills will always be YOU. Toys and electronic games alone cannot provide the best language models for new listeners. The items used in therapy don’t need to be expensive or complicated. Even the most everyday things can be perfect for different listening and speaking activities!
Here are just a few everyday object ideas to get you started.
1: Boxes, boxes, boxes
Once you’ve finished with that box of shoes, cereal, or tissues, save it! Boxes can be used to encourage listening for children of all ages.
For infants: Hide toys inside boxes. Talk about the toy that is inside the box before you show your child to practice listening. Use the name of the toy but also talk about what the toy looks like and does. “There is a toy puppy in here! It is soft and fluffy. It says woof woof. Let’s take it out”, or “There are some blocks in this box. Let’s take them out and build them up, up, up”. This builds anticipation and will grab your child’s attention to maximize listening.
For toddlers: Fill a shoebox with dried beans or rice to play and scoop. Talk to your child using action words such as pour, push, up, hide.
For young children: You can make a “touch and feel” experience by cutting holes in the box for your hands so that you can reach inside. Take turns with your child to hide objects inside, then describe and guess the mystery object. Use words such as smooth, soft, pointy, bumpy, and light, to teach your child new describing words. Remember, if your child isn’t paying attention your words are wasted.
You can use clothing to do various activities with young children.
Ling 6 Sounds Test: Roll socks up into balls and hand them to your child one ball at a time. Encourage your child to listen as you say one of the 6 Ling sounds. Have your child throw the ball into the laundry basket when they hear each of the sounds.
Guessing game: Create a guessing game by hiding a surprise in a pair of pants or a jacket that has many pockets. Give your child directions to find the surprise through listening: “Go to your closet and find your red winter coat. Look in the pocket that is on the outside, at the top. There is a surprise inside!”
Learning new words: Turn your regular laundry routine into a language activity by sorting clothing based on their color, pattern (striped, polka dot), owner (Mummy’s, Daddy’s, yours, mine) or size (Daddy’s sock is big. Yours is little).
Sponges can be used in a variety of ways to teach your child new action words. There are various options for infants through to pre-school aged children.
For infants: Play with sponges in water and talk about the different actions you are doing: “squeeze, drop, and splash.” Remember to repeat the word as much as possible in natural, meaningful ways to help your child to learn these words.
For toddlers: Do craftwork. Cut sponges into simple shapes, for example stars, fish, smiley faces. Put paint on one side to create stamps, and make prints together on paper.
For pre-school aged children: Cut the new shape in half or in quarters to make two or four piece puzzles.
Think creatively for new ideas!
As you go through the cupboards, closets, and shelves at home, always keep an eye out for what objects you could use in CI rehabilitation activities. You are the expert on what your child loves to do, and what objects they like. Share your ideas with your therapist and ask them for ways to use these objects to build your child’s language skills.
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