Cause and Effect Toys For Play Therapy

Cause and Effect Toys For Play Therapy

Cause and effect toys teach children that their actions can cause something to happen. When a child blows in a bubble wand, bubbles fly out; when a child pushes a car into a tower of blocks, it falls.

Using cause and effect toys in speech therapy can help your students build language. Still, it can also increase attention span, create curiosity, and improve joint attention skills. Today, I am going to share some of my favorite cause and effect toys you can use to help increase engagement while also working on speech and language goals!

What Toys Do You Have In Your Therapy Stash?

Some of the BEST cause and effect toys are the ones that you already have in your speech therapy material stash. A set of blocks and anything to knock them down work wonders! Amazon affiliate links are included for your convenience.

I found these wooden blocks at the Dollar tree and grabbed some of my cars. While stacking the blocks, you can work on “up, more, exclamations (i.e., oh, yay) and stack.”

Stacking cups, blocks, or boxes are also versatile for teaching tall/short, hiding things under, and using pretend play bowls. This set from Brilliant Basics Stack and Roll Cups is under $10 and can be stacked or put together as a ball to roll.

For a set of stacking boxes, Melissa and Doug have a set under $15, but these Babies Dinosaur Stacking Blocks have openings to put dinosaurs. You work on stacking, up/down, and in/out.

Cause and effect toys can improve language, executive functioning, and joint attention. Not to mention using cause and effect toys are super fun for children.

Play Therapy Cheat Sheets

Check out the toy companion cheat sheets if you serve students with various goals and want to start using ONE toy to cover many target areas. There are toy companions for stacking cups, cars, and over 30 types of toys and games (new toy companion cheat sheets are added to the resource as you send in requests.)

Cause and Effect Toys That Provide a Surprise

Toys that have a surprise are great for improving joint attention. Kids love the anticipation of finding what’s inside. You can also be super animated with your facial expressions to share in the “surprise” and excitement.

For SLPs on a budget, grabbing some plastic eggs at the Dollar Tree or Walmart during the Easter holiday is excellent for hiding mini items or pictures inside. You can read here are you can use those eggs with a chicken theme.

You also can use plastic cups to hide items underneath. If you are looking for things to add to a sensory bin, check out the toys from Learning Resources. The Surprise Party presents are great for a birthday theme. They also have other versions, such as acornspicnic baskets, or farm animals.

Need a toy companion for these surprise party boxes? They are included in the toy companion cheat sheet guides!

Toys that Encourage Children to Request More of an Action

Cause and effect toys can improve language, executive functioning, and joint attention. Not to mention using cause and effect toys are super fun for children.

When you use cause and effect toys that spark your student’s curiosity to want to do it again, you have some golden opportunities to work on communication!

And, if they need the item or help from you to watch that action happen, you can work on functional communication such as help, want, go, more, or gestures to signal to make that action happen again.

My two favorite toys for sparking some curiosity are ball poppers and wind-up toys (part of the toy companion cheat sheets.)

You can work on using verbal routines (i.e., ready, set, go), target CORE vocabulary (i.e., go, again, more, turn), turn-taking, joint attention, and social communication (i.e., funny, help me.)

What are Your Favorite Toys to Work on Cause and Effect?

What toys do you use to work on cause and effect in speech therapy? Your recommendations for toys are always the best. Share in the comments so other SLPs can find toys that will help plan their next speech therapy session.

If you need more toy and play therapy ideas, you can always search “toys” in the search bar or check out blog posts HERE

Cause and effect toys can improve language, executive functioning, and joint attention. Not to mention using cause and effect toys are super fun for children.
7 Places to Find Props for Your Themes

7 Places to Find Props for Your Themes

Looking for a way to level up your students’ engagement during your themed therapy lessons? Look no more, themester SLP! I LOVE incorporating themed therapy props into my lessons, and my students love using them. A themed therapy prop is a toy or item that relates to your theme or the characters in your theme-related books. For example, when doing a snowman theme, I always love using the book, “Sneezy the Snowman.” So, I decided to find a plush snowman toy to use as a themed prop for story retell. You can read this BLOG post to learn how to make your own snowman story prop kit

Before you go looking for themed therapy props, keep in mind that you don’t need to break the bank to make your theme a success. Many times you can use items you already have from toy sets or household items as a prop for the themed activity. 

Some of the product links in this blog are my Amazon affiliate link. Whenever you use an affiliate link, I will earn a commission from the product at no additional cost to you!

How Can the Themed Therapy Prop Be Used in Speech Therapy

There are tons of ways you can use themed therapy props across your lessons. Here are just some of my favorite ways to incorporate props into speech therapy:

  1. Use your small toys and items as story props while you read your themed book. Check out how I used a hedgehog for the book Apple Trouble here
  2. Props are a great way to act out verb actions with your students. 
  3. Use the themed therapy prop to demonstrate basic concepts. For example, these penguin figurines and styrofoam for showing on top, bottom, on/off, next to, behind, in front, first, and last (will send link to that blog post when done.)
  4. Answer “what” and “where” questions with the props. If you have a turkey, you can put items in front of the turkey and ask the students, “What is the turkey holding?” To see more ideas for using a turkey in your sessions, check out this post.

7 Places to Find Props for Themed Therapy

  1. This may sound crazy, but you must check out the dog sections at Ross, TJ Maxx, or Amazon. I found the St. Patrick’s Day dog toys at TJ Maxx and this fun squirrel log toy on Amazon from Zippy Paws. Because I LOVE doing a squirrel theme every year, it was worth the purchase for me.
  2. Oriental Trading Company has tons of small toys and items that will be perfect for your themed therapy props! This is where I found my plush snowman (Amazon also has lots of great plush toys).
  3. Beanie Babies – You can find a LOT of characters for books or themes like ocean animals, pets, or arctic animals. Plus, you may be able to borrow some from your own kids stash!
  4. Kohl CARES has great character plush toys that go with some of your favorites like the caterpillar for “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle, which is great for an insect theme.
Increase engagement using props to your themed therapy activities! Check out all the places to find themed therapy props.

5. Get ready to Thrift! Thrift stores can be an affordable solution for finding themed figurines or plush toys. Just recently, I was able to snag a bunch of puppy plush toys for my dog-themed unit.

6. Join and scour some Mom Facebook Groups – Join some local mom Facebook groups and put a post out for some items you may be looking for using in therapy. When you add that you are an SLP and need it for kids, I bet some mom’s will clean out their closet for you!

7. Give the Dollar Tree and 5 Below a visit. You can look at these discount stores for toy props to use with your themes. If you have students with special interests such as Peppa Pig, you can find some Peppa props from 5 Below. Have Peppa participate in the themed play unit, like taking care of pets. Or, Peppa can go visit the penguins! Dollar Tree always has seasonal props for holidays and times of the year. For example, in the spring, you can always find props and items for your insect themed unit

Want help with Planning Your Themed Therapy Sessions?

In need of some more tips on how to plan themed therapy lessons for your elementary caseload, I want to invite you to a FREE LIVE webinar training where I share a simple framework to help you plan your sessions efficiently. No more analysis paralysis when it comes to figuring out what you will do in therapy!

 Increase engagement using props to your themed therapy activities! Check out all the places to find themed therapy props.

Where Do You Find Props for Themes?

Do you have a favorite source for themed therapy props? Let me know in the comments below! I love hearing from other SLP’s and learning about new places to look for fun toys for my students!

Must Have Snowman Toys for Speech

Must Have Snowman Toys for Speech

When planning your snowman-themed unit, you can add some engagement by grabbing some of these must-have snowman toys for speech therapy. You definitely don’t need all the toys shared today in this post, but if you are looking to add some new snowman toy additions to your therapy stash, here are some of my faves.

Build a Snowman Toys for Speech Therapy

There is so much language you can target with sequencing tasks! Why not work on the sequencing task of building a snowman. You can definitely make your own white playdough with this recipe and grab buttons, sticks, mini hats and accessories to build a snowman. When building the snowman, you can target transition words, verb tense, vocabulary, wh-questions, summarizing, and answering wh-questions.

If you aren’t interested in making your own white playdough, there are several snowman toys for building a snowman. Here are some good snowman toy sets (Amazon affiliate links included):

Mr. and Mrs. Snowman Set with Floof modeling clay

Melting Snowman

Felt Snowman Game Set

Snowman Stacker Toy from Melissa and Doug Toys

Have some build-a-snowman toys to use in speech therapy for your snowman activity lesson plan!

Ideas for Using the Snowman Felt Game Set

With the felt snowman game set, you can work on following directions for building the snowman. Once the snowman is built, students can work on identifying colors, describing by attributes, and explaining the sequence in their own words. If you need more ideas for how to use winter sequencing tasks, check out this blog post.

You can also set this up across the speech room and do the snowman-dressing races as a reinforcer. After your students practice their targets, they can do a race to see how fast they can build the snowman. You can have them walk across a plank of wood to work on the basic concept “across.”

After you time the students, talk about who built the snowman the fastest, or slowest as well as discuss the concepts more and less time.

Snowman Toys to Use with Games

Let’s talk snowman toys that can be used as reinforcers or functional communication in speech therapy.

If you own a bowling pin set, add some snowman printables to them. Now, you have a knock the snowman down game! Use these free snowman printables for your bowling pin set. You can also use white paper cups and draw snowman faces to create bowling pins. Stack them into a pyramid and use fake snowballs to try and knock them down. 

Using ball poppers in therapy can be very engaging and motivating for students. Did you know that there is a snowman popper toy? It’s the best! There is also another version that pops the balls out of the snowman’s head. And if you have kids obsessed with Pop Its, I even found a snowman version! For SLPs that love using toys with mixed groups, using the popper toy companion cheat sheet will help you have pre-selected targets and ideas for therapy. 

To use the snowman popper for speech and language targets, tape pictures to the wall or whiteboard. Your students can try to hit the pictures and then practice their targets. If you need some snowman category images, there are a bunch in the snowman language lesson plan guides.

More Snowman Toys for Speech Therapy

You still with me? I went on a snowman toy hunt because this is a theme that I use for a whole month! It makes planning so much easier and my students benefit. Check out episode 45 of the Real Talk SLP podcast to find out why using a theme for at least two weeks can help you and your students. 

Snowman toys for speech therapy that will increase engagement in your mixed groups!

These Snowman pullback cards from Oriental Trading company can be great as a reinforcer, but they can also target some powerful CORE words. You can work on stop, go, more, again, fun, like, turn, my, you, and all done.

With your speech and language goals, you can set up mini trinkets in a row. Have students see what the snowman passes on his drive. Whatever he passes, those are the items students must practice.

You can also set up cube blocks or sugar cubes and see if your students can knock them down with the snowman cars. Work on the verbs pull, start, go, stop, hit, crash, knock, and watch.

To check out these snowman pullback cars in action, watch this REEL on @themedtherapyslp

I got a snowman plush toy on Oriental Trading company, but I think they are all sold out. Here is another version from Amazon. You can use a snowman toy to work on following directions, basic concepts, and use it with your pretend play scenes. For example, you can make hot chocolate for your snowman, or have an ice cream party with a snowman and friends. Add mini snowman erasers to any task mat or worksheet to make therapy have a hands-on component. I found the snowman erasers on Oriental Trading.

Want to Stay Inspired with Themed Therapy Ideas?

Staying creative with implementing a themed-based approach can be a little daunting at times. One minute you find yourself looking on Pinterest for a themed idea and hours later you come out with 20 different themed ideas, 10 dessert recipes to try, and your kid’s next birthday party. If you want to stay inspired with planning by themes, come join my FREE-themed therapy SLP Facebook group!

Play Themes for Summer

Play Themes for Summer

When I started using themes to guide my lesson planning, I liked to consider the current seasons. Using a season as a theme is relatable to all of our students. This makes it easy to build in high-interest and highly relevant activities which can be used for multiple speech goals.

Summer is always a fun theme to use because it means a lot of fun indoor and outdoor play activities. This blog is all about great summer play themes you can use with your ESY students, private students, or even for some home carryover activities. Amazon affiliate links are provided in this blog post for your convenience. I earn a small commission when you purchase something with my link with no additional cost to you.

Pretend Play Themes for the Summer Season

Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.

During the summer season, your students may be going to the beach with their family and friends. The beach is the perfect place to incorporate play! You can easily target those semantic and vocabulary skills by categorizing any beach related words. Make lists of ocean animals, beach snacks, beach items, and ocean activities. Pretend to get ready to go to the beach and sequence the steps. This is a fun, functional way to work on those sequence words and verbs. You can even target language comprehension by giving your students directions on how to get ready for the beach with some basic concepts.

Providing guidance on how to make a sensory bin at the beach to your families is a great carry over activity to support your students’ generalization. Ask your families to simply bring a bin to the beach. They can fill it with sand, water, any shells they collect, or toys they bring along. Then prompt them to target that student’s language goals.

If you want to make the ocean sensory bin pictured above, here is what you will need:

Tasty and Fun Summer Play Themes

S’mores, ice cream, and lemonade! Yum! These three themes are always super fun and engaging for my students because who doesn’t love ice cream and s’mores? You can develop your students’ pretend play skills by pretending you’re going to the ice cream shop, camping, or selling lemonade at a stand.

Plus, you can work on so many social communication skills while you are eating your summer treats. Specifically, you can work on initiating requests for ingredients and flavors, make comments on what you like and don’t like, and work on turn taking/cooperative play.

 

Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.

For ideas on how to use an ice cream toy set, head to this blog post! It’s full of ideas on how to incorporate an ice cream toy set into speech therapy. Using cloud dough or play dough is also a good for ice cream related pretend play.

There are tons of ways to use a camping and s’mores play themes into speech therapy. If you’re not sure how to get started check out my previous blog post all about camping speech therapy activities.

Lemonade Theme Therapy Ideas

Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.

Learning Resources has a lemonade stand themed card game that can easily be used in speech therapy.

I would recommend checking out Amazon’s lemonade toy set that is currently under $15 and great for a lemonade pretend play activity.

You can also make a lemonade sensory bin with lemon scented rice.

More Ways to Use Play Food in Speech Therapy

 Have a summer picnic with your student and work on categorizing food by fruits, snacks, and entrees. Additionally, you can use a basket work on basic concepts like in/out, in front/behind, over, under. You can also incorporate those social skills I mentioned earlier. 

Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.
Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.

Pretend to visit a farmers market with your students. Talk about the produce you would see and what you would need to bring with you. Once you are done, talk about the produce that you saw and bought to work on vocabulary and verb tensing.

If you need more play food ideas for preschool speech therapy, head to this blog post. 

Summer Play Theme Sensory Bins

Use a garden or car wash theme to make sensory bins to target your students goals. Fill a bin with water, soap, and cars or trucks of different sizes and colors. List the attributes or the cars and work on basic concepts as the cars and trucks go in and out of the car wash.

You can also fill a bin with some soil, grass, and seeds. Have your student push the seeds and look for small bugs and critters! There are a lot of bug hunt toy sets that can be incorporates into this sensory bin. 

Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.
Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.

Summer Garden Therapy Ideas

Use fake flowers and other gardening supplies to create a pretend play theme of a flower shop or planting a garden. This can be a great opportunity to talk about the vocabulary and social communication of growing flowers and buying flowers for others. Buying flowers can teach the concept of giving, showing love with gifts as well as the verbs and vocabulary for making a flower bouquet. This is also a time to practice emotion words with your students! How would someone feel if you gave them flowers? How would someone feel if you didn’t give them flowers?

For more ideas on how to use flowers as a theme in speech therapy, head to this blog post.

More Summer Play Themes

Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.

Here are some more summer theme ideas to use for pretend play. You can target all of the previously mentioned therapy goals using these themes:

  • Going Fishing 
  • Zoo trip
  • Traveling or planning for a road trip
  • Going to a sandwich shop

If you’re interested in more seasonal themes, check out my spring play themes blog post.

I would also recommend reading this previous post for more information on play based speech therapy!

Need Tips for Implementing Play Themes?

When I first began incorporating play based activities into my therapy, I felt very overwhelmed. I quickly began to run out of ideas on how to incorporate my students’ goals in play without being repetitive or burnt out. I have found that when I have cheat sheets handy in my sessions, I spend less time thinking of targets and more time meaningfully interacting with my students. If you want to save more brain energy AND feel prepared for play therapy without hours of planning, then grab these toy companion cheat sheets for speech and language therapy. Included are cheat sheet guides for over 25 toys!

Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.
Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.

What Summer Pretend Play Activities Do You Use With Your Students?

I always love to hear what other SLP’s are doing with their student. Have any summer themed activities you’ve tried and loved with your students? Let me know in the comments! 

10 Ways to Use a Cookie Toy Set in Speech

10 Ways to Use a Cookie Toy Set in Speech

Playing with toy sets is one of the best ways for kids to interact with their environments and learn about the things around them without getting into things they shouldn’t. Even more so, kids love animals, which is why pet hospital toy sets can be such a great tool to incorporate into your speech therapy sessions! While acquiring a pet hospital toy set is an upfront cost, there are so many different speech and language skills that you can target while “playing” with your speech students!

Where Can I Buy a Baking Cookie Toy Set for Speech Therapy?

 

There are a few different cookie toy sets available online. All of the ones I’m suggesting below can be found on Amazon, but you might be able to find them at stores like Target, too. The links below are Amazon affiliate links for your convenience.

Melissa and Doug Cookie Dough Play Set

Melissa and Doug Baking Play Set – you can use these tools and use playdough to make the cookies.

Use a Play Dough Pretend Play Set for Making Cookies and Milk

Cookie Mixer Set by Tiny Land Inc

 

Engage your speech therapy students with these 10 ideas for using a baking cookies toy set in speech therapy! So many speech skills can be targeted with it.

Play-Based Speech and Language Toy Companion Cheat Sheets

Need a cheat sheet guide to help you with targeting wh- questions, Tier II vocabulary, articulation, basic concepts, adjectives, and helpful therapy ideas for toys you use during play-based therapy? Grab this Toy Companion Cheat Sheet Guide for Prek-2nd grade and have stimulus targets mapped out for 18 different toys.

Engage your speech therapy students with these 10 ideas for using a baking cookies toy set in speech therapy! So many speech skills can be targeted with it.
Engage your speech therapy students with these 10 ideas for using a baking cookies toy set in speech therapy! So many speech skills can be targeted with it.

Using a Cookie Toy Set in Play-Based Speech Therapy

Engage your speech therapy students with these 10 ideas for using a baking cookies toy set in speech therapy! So many speech skills can be targeted with it.
  1. Discuss kitchen safety when cooking. Target negation for not, don’t, never. Work on the cause and effect of what happens if we get cookies out of the oven without protective gloves or not putting your fingers in the mixer when it is turned on.
  1. Practice decorating and serving cookies to partners to work on turn-taking and initiation of communication. Share opinions about if they like/don’t like the cookie, requesting milk to go with their cookies.
  1. Put the cookies “in” and “out: of a jar. Discuss “who” took a cookie out of the jar.
  1. Work on vocabulary and grammar skills while making pretend cookies. Practice sequencing the steps. Ask the students what happened first, middle, last.
  1. Talk about the social rules for baking (hygiene) and when/why you would prepare cookies for someone (party, death, thoughtful gift, etc.)

More Therapy Ideas Using a Cookie Toy Set

  1. Feed a stuffed animal or cut out the cookies while practicing speech or language targets.
  1. Put task cards out and have the students “find the” adjective, category, noun-function, etc. Have them put a cookie on the correct task card.
  1. Work on singular and plural nouns and noun-verb agreement with stuffed animals. Give the animals different items (cookies, oven mitt, rolling pin). Explain what each animal has or ask simple “who” questions.
  1. Have different problems occur during pretend play (burnt cookies, spatula drops, forget an ingredient) and discuss solutions to the problems. 
  1. Sort items into different subcategories such as the spatula, cookie tray are kitchen utensils, flour, butter, sugar are food ingredients, and a mixer, and oven are appliances. Describe these items by attributes (i.e., category, noun-function, location, parts, size, textures, etc.)
Engage your speech therapy students with these 10 ideas for using a baking cookies toy set in speech therapy! So many speech skills can be targeted with it.

More Toys to Use in Play Therapy

Engage your speech therapy students with these 10 ideas for using a baking cookies toy set in speech therapy! So many speech skills can be targeted with it.

If you are loving all these toy ideas for play therapy, you can read more blog posts on some of my favorite toys to use in therapy.

When I pull out a toy knowing the purpose of how I will use it to cover goals, I feel confident with my therapy choice. It’s okay to put the worksheets away if you are FUNctionally using toys to target speech and language goals.

Your students will probably be more engaged with your lesson for the day!

Check out my favorite toys and 10 ways to use them in therapy:

Ice Cream Toy Set

Toy Trains in Speech

Using Play Food in Therapy

Farmhouse Toy Set

How Do You Use a Baking Cookies Toy Set in Speech Therapy?

 

Do you have a fun way to engage your students with a baking cookies toy set in speech therapy? Share in the comments, tag me on Instagram @thedabblingspeechie, or email me at feliceclark@thedabblingspeechie.com.

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