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Manipulatives- Catering to a child's unique abilities

Kids have different learning styles and abilities, so it’s important to support their individual needs. Our extensive collection of manipulatives offers you the tools to help reach, teach and delight all children, at whatever stage they may be. We carefully select manipulatives that help kids learn at their own unique pace and while giving them the guidance to reach their fullest potential.

Read on for special needs testimonials to help you find the best games and tools to help children achieve success in performing everyday activities.

Tactile Smart Snacks Alpha Pops speced1Have you ever had a french fry or mango mustard flavored popsicles? As soon as we started that game of coming up with goofy flavors, my daughter caught on to the alphabet. We started saying things like, A is for Apple flavored popsicles. Now we try to come up with the craziest names using both letters to encourage her to see and learn the upper and lower case letters.

My daughter is 4 years old and has Down syndrome and apraxia. Because of apraxia, she has a hard time forming the sounds and saying words. There are a few reasons why I like these Alpha Pops so much. They are real toys to play with. We can use them like flashcards, but because they are popsicles, they are more fun and certainly more inviting to my daughter. The upper and lower case letters match in color to help provide a visual cue. And, they require a little strength to pop them together and pull them apart. This gives her some practice using and strengthening her fine motor skills.

Besides naming flavors, we'll sing the alphabet song and use two popsicles as our drum sticks to tap out the rhythm. My daughter's speech therapist likes this because she is gaining practice in saying the consonants and vowels, verbalizing the letter sounds and also repeating words we say.

-Colleen K., Mother of 4 year old Grace who has Down syndrome and apraxia, Chicago, IL

Basic Concepts Shape Sorting Cupcakes speced2Shape Sorting Cupcakes are perfectly yummy for language learning and as a speech therapist, great for stimulating kids to "get talkin'." These little cakes are a motivating tool to spark oral language ranging from dialogue about colors, shapes and sizes to exploring conversations of flavors. Blue frosting might taste like blueberries and pink frosting might taste like strawberries.

I like to practice alliteration as a warm up activity with the Shape Sorting Cupcakes. For example, if the client picks the blue cupcake, they can start to warm up with a sentence using the letter 'B' like, "Barry bakes blueberries in bundts." This gets the students laughing and loosened up for the rest of their speech session.

As a final activity before the end of the session, I like to do a competition to see who can name a color or shape attribute of each cupcake the fastest- client versus therapist! Using appealing products and engaging in fun activities to practice speech and language makes the sessions go by fast- neither a bore nor a chore!

-Bree M., SLP (Speech & Language Pathologist), Chicago, IL

Language Conversation Cubes speced3Conversation Cubes are fantastic icebreakers for my autism centered social groups. The groups offer kids with autism a place to practice their social skills with other kids that have autism and/or typically developing peers on a weekly basis. Our groups thrive on structured activities to guide social skills. The Conversation Cubes offer a fun formula for "getting to know you" questions- "When is your birthday?" and "Do you have a pet?" The cubes also offer more thought provoking questions like "What is your happiest memory?" which may trigger dialogue about a recent happening or a past family vacation.

Children with autism benefit from practice and repetition. The groups follow the same format each session so that when in social settings they are prepared and have appropriate social etiquette. The kids look forward to utilizing the Conversation Cubes as part of our opening activities with a different partner each week. Partners could be a peer with autism, peer who is typically developing or even a staff member.

It is exciting to see my kids be able to meet and greet others and practice what they learned with family members and friends. The repetition, practice and structure of the groups help lessen the anxieties of social settings and greetings.

-Olivia L., Child Psychologist, Chicago, IL

Fine Motor Mental Blox speced4As a Developmental Therapist, I really like the versatility of this toy. Visual learners love the bright colors and patterns and also matching the images on the cards. Tactile learners like the shapes and balancing the blocks as they build and hone fine motor skills. The questions on the cards encourage literacy and add an element of thinking that keeps kids mentally alert. Blocks are also known to help kids learn spatial and basic math skills through problem solving!

This game is versatile too! Children can play this independently, but I can also use this as a game of friendly competition between siblings to include them into the therapy session too.

This set expands the concept of building blocks by making them multi-functional and creates a mental game as well.

-Marcia H., Developmental Therapist, Bristol, IN

Math Smart Snacks Count 'em Up Popcorn speced5Count 'Em Up Popcorn has realistic, large popcorn pieces that are easy to grasp for little hands. Our son is delayed in his cognitive development and the popcorn set allows us to visually sort and tactilely count the pieces to help him understand numbers and beginning math. Joshua likes to serve up the popcorn to us according to the number on the bowls. There are enough pieces that each bowl can be filled with the designated number of pieces- which is great to eliminate frustration!

Beginning math skills can be incorporated into pretend play. For example, we will ask Joshua to bring us a bowl of five pieces of popcorn and only eat two. We can then ask him how many were eaten when he comes back to take the bowl back to the "kitchen." This merges math into play and he doesn't feel like he is being quizzed! We have also lined up the popcorn bowls from biggest to smallest and tossed the popcorn pieces into the bowls like a game of skeeball. It's a fun way to clean up the set when we are finished playing!

Joshua loves the Count 'Em Up Popcorn set! He enjoys playing pretend and we can discreetly sneak in beginning math too.

-Bill & Amy T., parents of 4 year old Joshua who has cognitive delays, Chicago, IL

Sensory Integration Family Counters speced6This Family Counters kit is a great toy and tool for me to use as a Child Life Specialist when working with children in a hospital setting. Kids really enjoy assembling their family around them, even if it's just pretend. Just talking about their family helps children remember that they have a support group! The addition of the pet opens up dialogues that get kids telling stories about their pet and the silly things they do at home. Before you know it they are smiling and laughing and I think that helps kids heal even faster!

A big hit is making up silly stories about each family member as a coping strategy during procedures like shots, IV's and even scans. I place the child's family pieces in a cup and shake them up. The child takes one out with his eyes closed and then we make up a funny day of events for mom, sister or cat! This game becomes a great distraction and helps to relieve some of the anxieties of treatments and being in the hospital.

I think the name of this product fits well because I see every day that family really does 'count.' This set gets kids thinking, counting and opening up to imaginative play. -Kerry B., Child Life Specialist, Chicago, IL

Posted by The Scholar's Choice Team in Grandparent, Parent, Teacher, General ← Previous Post Next Post →

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