I recently came across a big bag of the smaller sized beanie babies that I collected while growing up. When I first found the bag I thought to myself "ehh I thought these things would be worth money by now, but they're not so it's time to get rid of them!". However, then it dawned on me that I really could use these animals with my students during speech therapy sessions while targeting SO many different goals!
Below I have posted 15 different ways to use them during a session for speech & language.
Targeting categories such as where the animal lives or sorting the animals by different attributes, features, etc.
WHICH DOES NOT BELONG:
While discussing categories you can also talk about which animal does not belong in the category. In this case, the dinosaur doesn't belong in the group and have the student explain why (because it is not a farm animal).
SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES:
Picking two animals and discussing how the animals are the same and how they are different from each other.
Choosing an animal and having the student describe it using adjectives, features, attributes and other descriptive language. I find charts to be a helpful guide with students when describing objects.
Story Telling/Creating a Narrative:
Have each student pick an animal from the pile and make up their own story about it! You can use organizers to get the children started. You could also go around a circle and pass one animal around while each person adds a piece to the story about the animal. At the end you can have the students sequence the story, discuss the main idea, setting, details, conclusions, or retell the story.
Targeting spatial concepts and having the child place the animal correctly when given a direction or print off pictures and have the child point to which one is correct after you say a sentence. (Examples: Put the penguin in front of the anteater, Point to: The penguin is between the anteaters)
FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS/RECEPTIVE IDENTIFICATION:
These are great for working on following directions with your clients. You can make the directions as simple or as complex as needed.
1.) Point to the turkey.
2.) First, point to the lizard and then point to the turkey.
3.) Before you point to the turkey, point to the flamingo.
4.) If a banana is yellow point to the iguana, if it isn't yellow point to the lizard.
Beanie babies are perfect story companions! Have the child play with it or use it during the story to engage them.
Talking about what each animal does using action words. You could ask
"what does a ____ do?"
Jellyfish - Sting
Anteater - Eat
Bluejay - Fly
Lobster - Pinch
Frog - Jump
Monkey - Swing
Leopard - Run
You can easily target wh-questions such as where, why, or what!
Where does a chicken live?
What animal barks?
Why does an iguana change colors?
You can even use the beanie babies to target speech sounds! Choose all the animals that include the targeted sound. In this case, targeting initial P sound (Penguin, Puppy, Pelican, Platypus.
These are perfect to use when targeting basic concepts including colors, quantities, textures, characteristics, size, etc.
Which one is tall? An ostrich or a squirrel?Which one is loud? A chicken or a fish?
Which one is soft? A turtle or a puppy?
ACTIVITIES: I like the use the beanie babies after I have read a story for an activity! After the book reading, I have the children take turns digging through a sensory bin to find the different animals. I also like to use the beanie babies in a scavenger hunt around the room and have the children try to find them. After all the animals are found we name and talk about each animal!
We all know the importance of pretend play! Beanie babies are fantastic for children to begin using their imagination, make up stories, have the animals talk to each other, play doctor with the animals, have a tea party, bring in other props such as binoculars made out of toilet paper rolls and go on a safari to find different animals!
PRAGMATICS: You can also use the beanie babies as props or interactive toys to discuss or act out (like a puppet show) various social communication skills such as turn-taking, asking/answering questions, tone of voice, volume, personal space, etc.
Hopefully after reading this blog you now have some ideas on how to use your old beanie babies in therapy sessions or any stuffed animals for that matter!
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