Describing is being able to explain that a banana is a yellow, long fruit that can be peeled, cut, and eaten. Categorization is being able to group things together in multiple ways. It’s saying that bananas, apples, and cherries are fruits or a banana, a pineapple, and a lemon are all things that are yellow, categories that some kids might have a hard time on.
Vocabulary building is adding new words in a child’s repertoire and expanding their understanding and verbal productions. It’s being able to see a banana and knowing that it’s called a banana and being able to use their words to label “banana”.
What we Recommend
If you search “Cutting fruits and veggies toy” on Amazon, you get over 100 options. Here is one we love to use in speech and language therapy. This toy ranges from $12, which includes a basket and pretend fruit, vegetables, and cutlery, to $25+ which upgrades the plastic to wood and involves a higher variety of food items (meats, fruits, vegetables, seafood, the works!). The purpose of this toy is to play “kitchen” and prepare food by cutting the pieces in half. The various food items are 2 halves held together by velcro, waiting to be cut by the provided pretend knife.
This toy can be used with kids with a lot of words, and kids with a few words. Either way, there are a lot of ways to increase your child’s communication skills with this toy.
Kids with lots of words can describe and categorize. Hold the food and ask your child to describe it before they cut. Is it a fruit, vegetable, meat, or seafood? What color is it? Is it big or small, yummy or yucky, bumpy or smooth? Maybe, you can hide it behind your back and describe it, modeling new vocabulary. For categorization, you can make a salad made of foods that are only green or a salad with only smooth foods like apples, oranges, tomatoes. Any kind of grouping, is categorization. When you are all done chit chatting, give them the food so they can chop away and finally make that salad.
For kids with a few words, core words are key: cut, more, want, no, eat
Everytime a child cuts the velcro, you model “cut”. “What are you doing?” “cut”. Everytime the child reaches for another food item to cut, you model “more”. Offer a preferred and non-preferred food item (chocolate vs. artichokes, I wonder which they would prefer...), and ask them do you want artichokes? “no”. Maybe you can practice the art of waiting instead of modeling, and see if they will independently say “want more”, 2 words! Last but not least, when you’re all done cutting, now you can pretend to “eat”.
And this is just the start.
Walah! A toy that can be used in play to build describing skills, categorization skills, and vocabulary expansion and all while you and your child are playing. Beyond Speech Therapy Specialists focus on the building language skills like above through play. This can be done at home or in a clinic with your child and with any of our team of providers. If this sounds like a great start, click here to learn more! Also, If you are wondering where to find the best pediatric therapy near you, click here to learn more!