Parent Tips

Parent Tip: Using Puzzles to Enhance Language Skills

Kids love puzzles! SLPs love puzzles too!!  Better yet?  Parents usually have a puzzle or two in the house.  Why not use something that your SLP brings and your kids love?  (Yes, there are a lot of questions to start this post.  I will try to stop it!)  Puzzles are so simple yet so great for language and articulation reinforcement.  So let’s get you using those puzzles when the SLP is not around!  (*Not a sponsored post but I ABSOLUTELY SUPER BIG PUFFY HEART Melissa & Doug puzzles!  Therefore, all the tips revolve around using their puzzles!)

  1.  Simple puzzles are great just the way they are for little ones.  Matching picture to picture or picture to silhouette is an awesome skill to work on with your little one.    With my toddlers just starting out, I like to use the big knob puzzles with only 3-4 pieces.  As they improve with matching, I use the wooden chunky puzzles.
  2. Articulation:  For my older preschool-kindergarten clients, I will use a puzzle at the end of the session as a reward/quick drill.  I take all the puzzle pieces off the board to start with.  Each time they produce a target word correctly 5x (or use in a phrase 3x), I give them a piece to put on the board.  You can tweak it a little and put the pieces in a box of beans to add a sensory aspect.  Then they have to dig through the beans to find a piece.
  3. Basic Labeling/Identifying:  Take all pieces off the board.  To work on labeling, the child has to label a piece before he gets it.  To work on identifying, lay several pieces in front of the child.  Name one and see if they can find it
  4. Increase MLU:  So the little guy can name everything but needs to work on using more words to make phrases?  Easy peasy!  Take all the pieces off the board (again!) and lay them out.  The child can use different phrases depending on their level such as “I want…” or “Gimme…”  (That last one might be just a southern thing!!)  I have even worked asking questions with the pieces like “Can I have the…?”  No matter their level, I also work on making good eye contact when making the request.
  5. Positions/Spatial Concepts:  Take the pieces off the board and place them in different places (on the table, under the couch) in the room.  You can tell your child “Find the piece on the coffee table” to work on understanding spatial concepts (as well as following directions).  Or you can work on the expressive part by asking “Where did you find the horse?”

You can do all of this with one puzzle!!  Puzzles make great birthday and Christmas gifts so keep them in mind when shopping for your little one!

Needing some more tips for parents? Trying this one using games or bath time. You can also check out this YouTube video for using Legos!

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