Mr. Potato Head is one toy I always keep in my therapy bag when working with 2-year-olds. It’s a classic toy that doesn’t require batteries, and you can pick up the small version at Dollar General or a similar store for $3. Concepts that can be taught using Mr. Potato Head include:
- Body parts
- Clothing words (hat, shoes, glasses)
- Location words (put the pieces in, take the pieces out, put the mouth under the nose)
Mr. Potato Head is also effective for teaching children to make requests. To get the most out of the activity, the adult gives the child the empty potato and keeps all of the other pieces in a bag. The child then has to make a request to get each piece. The type of request the child is expected to make would depend on his/her skill level.
- For a child who is not yet speaking and needs to work on joint attention,the adult would hold the desired piece by his/her face and encourage the child to look back and forth between the toy and the adult’s face.
- A child who is using sign language could sign “more” or “please” for each additional piece of the toy.
- A child who is learning to use a picture communication system could point to pictures of the pieces on a pre-made communication board. (You can find one here under “Preschool/Early Elementary Visual Communication Aids.”)
- Children who are just learning to use single words can be encouraged to imitate the words for objects they point to.
- If the child is proficient at using single words, a 2-word request can be modeled. (Child says “hat;” adult says “want hat” and encourages child to repeat.)
With just a few minor tweaks to the typical playtime routine, this is one activity that parents can easily incorporate to promote interaction and language development.
***Check out this post too with more ideas for using Mr. Potato Head.