Have you seen insta-snow in action? It literally is what its name implies. Instant Snow. All you have to do is add water to the given powder and viola it grows right in front of your eyes. It’s almost cold-like. It springs back when you squeeze and let go. It possesses an uncanny resemblance to real, powder-like snow. Dare I say more? The kids love this stuff! Let’s talk about why and what kind of learning/language opportunities are available.
For starters…. tis the season when kids start to get ants in their pants like the rest of us. I don’t know about you but having “new things” and plans helps me with the winter blahs after the holidays. So, this year I planned ahead and ordered some instant snow before year’s end in anticipation of the new year and new-old ideas.
For one of my older kids last year, I had her help me measure the water and snow amounts. She poured them into the large rubbermaid. I had her stir the snow. We watched the instant snow expand. Then, I had her tell me the steps of what we did. I had her describe the snow and what happened. Sequencing. Word retrieval. Adjectives. Expanding on her mean length utterance. Fun! Turns out it was a calming activity to play in the insta-snow as well.
For my littler ones… so much fun too! We used shovels to “scoop” the snow. Next we “poured” the snow into a container. If your child enjoys container play (Kids: Container Play and Language Ideas) then this might be a great indoor activity in the winter months (Supervised of course.). We can incorporate language such as “in” and “out”. If you follow my blog then you know I’m a fan of embedding verbal routines within play activities. What does that mean? What does that look like?
My last post, Verbal Routines and Language, using the Stomp Rocket discusses this as well. Think about using consistent, word(s) or phrases within a repetitive play action or routine. In this case, for the child that loves scooping the snow you might say “scoop” every time he scoops the snow. After several models you the might pause and say nothing. See if the child chimes in with the word “scoop”. When the child pours the snow into the cup you might say “in” each time. When he or she pours the snow out you might say “out”.
Driving cars through the snow is so much fun too! See if the child imitates you pushing the car “through the snow”. Produce car sounds while driving the car. See if your child imitates you. You have to pause though and remain quiet for a second or two to give the child time to imitate. Many of the kids I see are slower to imitate and need processing time. Often times my kids imitate spontaneously vs on request. Hence, why I build in repetitive verbal routines into many of my activities. This provides an opportunity for learning and for imitation in a spontaneous fashion.
Find fun objects to “hide” in the snow. Then, you can ask the child, “Where is the …?” to work on receptive language. Or, each time a child finds an object you can ask “What’s this?” if your child is at the labeling stage.
For my talkers that lean towards gestalt learning vs analytical I might model a phrase such as “I found a…”. I like to see if the child will follow suit and model the same sentence structure that I did when he/she pulls an object out of the snow. Gestalt processors learn information in “chunks” so modeling a “chunk” of information is a nice way to build sentence length for commenting in this instance. I really liked this article from the Communication Development Center. Within the article I found this paragraph.
‘Grandin responded by talking about her own cognitive style. “Well, what happens is…as I get more and more phrases on the hard drive, I can recombine them in different ways, and then it’s less tape-recorder like…it’s gradual learning…you gradually just keep getting better and better and better.”’Chunking information like this and using the first person as a model is also a nice way to address pronoun reversal. For example by me modeling “I found a…” the child has the opportunity to imitate that same phrase. If you ask, “What did you find?” The child that has difficulty with pronouns might comment, “You found a…” vs using “I”. The child might also imitate your question without answering. (Here is another blog on gestalt learning.) In my experience children on the Autism Spectrum sometimes have difficulty with pronouns and often reverse the pronoun when asked, “Whose turn?” Or, you might hear the child say “your turn” immediately after you say it. Many moons ago, I had a little girl who imitated the last word of everything I said but with limited comprehension. In my opinion she was displaying echolalic speech. She LOVED dinosaurs. One day in therapy I asked, “What does the dinosaur say?” followed immediately with a “roar”. That was the first day she answered a question. She repeated the last word I presented which was “roar”. She was then able to move through several animal sounds quickly after that but independently because I was able to help her find a way to answer the question. Find what works for each individual child…
There are so many options to incorporate language and learning into this activity. What kinds of ideas do you have? Please share!
I have two local Physical Therapists working on their guest posts for the beginning of this year and a local pediatric feeding therapist lined up for May! In the meantime…