Playdough cakes to build attention and vocabulary

Making birthday cupcakes with playdough is a popular activity in my speech and language therapy sessions. It’s useful for building shared attention, learning about sequences and storytelling, with plenty of opportunities to explore a rich vocabulary.

I had an extra excuse to make birthday cupcakes this week, as I’m celebrating seven years of running SaLT by the Sea. So, thank you for being here and celebrating with me!

I hope you and your child have fun with this activity.

Playdough Cupcakes to build attention and vocabulary

There are oh so many things with can do with playdough. Here’s a few more ideas.

How to create a communication friendly space

Remember making blanket forts as a kid? I broke many a flimsy umbrella by draping blankets over the top. Creating a cosy corner isn’t only fun, but can also really encourage communication and conversation between you and your little one. In this video I share how I make a quick and simple cosy corner and the key elements that I try to include.

Creating a cosy conversation corner

Think about how you can make the space child-sized. What cosy fabrics or cushions can you bring in? Finally, lights and containers are both fun invitations to explore and chat together. What would you add to yours?

There’s so many fabulous ideas on Pinterest, that sometimes the beauty of them can be almost intimidating! The cosy corner that you create with your child doesn’t need to be ‘perfect’. Just have a go at chucking some blankets and cushions together, snuggle down and have fun. :)

If you’d like more ideas on communication friendly environments, you might also like to check out Elizabeth Jarman, who shares lots of work and research in this area.

PS. Check out my blog post on creating a communication-friendly classroom here.

Using a bucket to build early attention and listening skills

I want to share with you my all-time favourite resource for building joint attention. This is the type of attention that involves you and your child both focusing on the same thing. It’s a key part of how children learn to communicate. Some children need extra help to develop this aspect of attention and it’s well worth spending time to help them develop this as it’s a foundation for language and shared learning.

‘The bucket’ is the first step in a structured programme for developing the attention and interaction skills of children on the autism spectrum, developed by Gina Davies. She described these activities as creating ‘An irresistible invitation to learn.’ In this video I share a brief overview of this first step, why it’s so important, and some ideas to get you started.

Building attention skills in children: THE BUCKET!

I’m always looking for new toy suggestions to fit in my bucket. If you and your child have any favourites, do let me know in the comments below.

If you’d like to hear more about how I use this approach in my therapy sessions with young children, check out this podcast interview.

A Communication Friendly Classroom

Children standing at the front of class

As September draws closer, I’ve been helping husband Tom set up his classroom ready for the new school year. We’ve spent the summer sharing ideas, gathering resources and planning layouts. For a young Year 1 class we want to provide an enriching, flexible space with intriguing resources. We want to build on the free-flow exploratory learning that children experience in Reception and support transition to the more structured expectations of a Year 1 classroom. As a Speech and Language Therapist I’m interested in spaces that encourage communication, feel inviting and provide something worth talking about. Inspired by Michael Jones and Elizabeth Jarmin, we’ve been sticking to a few principles in our planning.

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