Talk Blocks Set of 5
These have lessened the tantrums in our house tremendously! My son has speech delays and isn't able to express what he wants - even the simplest things like wanting more of something. We bought these Talk Blocks out of desperation between fits - both mine and his. I had my nephew, who is just a couple years older than Jaden, prerecord phrases like, "I want more," "I want to play," and "I'm hungry" so they are in a boy's voice, rather than mine. The Talk Blocks are pretty big and have clear, removable covers. I put pictures or words under them so Jaden can identify what each one says. Then when he wants to tell me something, he brings me the block and presses the button in front of me. He is learning how to communicate. He knows he needs to get my attention first and then press the button. He has really taken a liking to them!
I've also slipped in a few funny things, just to get our humor back. I record riddles on the Talk Blocks and on holidays I always record a happy day phrase. He likes when he gets one that says something unexpected.
We are in speech therapy and I know he will eventually be able to communicate with his own words, but for now, these Talk Blocks give him a voice he doesn't yet have. -Sandy M., Mother of 8 year old Jaden who has speech delays, Chicago, IL
My daughter is so excited to hear her recordings on the Talk Links; it inspires her vocalizations! Practicing her voice projection (clarity and volume) is one of the main things we work on at her many therapies. Charlize was 16 weeks premature and has many delays due to her early arrival. At 5 years of age, we are working on her projection, stamina and endurance of vocal cords, as well as her abdominal and back strength to support breathing needed for speaking.
Charlize loves reading books, but as she reads her voice progressively gets softer and softer. Using Talk Links to record 6 second parts of her favorite books allows her to take a break in between and “recharge” her voice. I can also read sections to help give her a break. The Talk Links teach her about pacing and breath control which are vital components to advancing her voice projection. After we record all of the Talk Links, she can listen to the book as a whole and hear how her voice sounds.
Charlize thrives on activities that help her with volume and clarity when speaking. Talk Links are a fantastic asset to her development and we have seen her confidence and self-esteem soar, as well as her voice since using the Talk Links. –Peggy M., Mother of 5 year old Charlize with developmental & cognitive delays, Atlanta, GA
This is a great tool to help my kids express their emotions! Expressing feelings in front of others can be intimidating and embarrassing, but it is a necessary skill to learn especially for children with bipolar disorder. Many of the kids in my therapy group have difficulties with leveling their moods, maintaining relationships with relatives and friends and understanding their feelings. The group sessions, facilitated by counselors, help them understand how to identify their feelings, moods and relationships through activities and discussions with other peers that are also working on their social/emotional disabilities.
Each week the kids get to go one by one into another room with a counselor and answer a question by recording it on the Easi-Speak microphone. The questions are related to emotional and behavioral challenges that occurred at places like school or home since the past session and the responses must include the “play (initial reaction), pause (feelings/sensations) and rewind (enriched reaction)” of the incident. We wrap up the group sessions playing back a couple of the recordings to the group. This is done with the kids’ volunteering to participate. This provides an opportunity for the kids to offer their peer advice and identify with others’ similar scenarios.
Allowing the kids to independently and privately talk about their weekly challenges provides me with valuable feedback. They are not put on the spot in the group sessions and there is no need to embellish their stories. The Easi-Speak recording “confessions” have been a highlight to the kids each week! –Laura M., LCPC (Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor), Chicago, IL
At six months old Billy received cleft palate surgery to repair the hole between the roof of his mouth and his nose to reconnect the muscles. Even with reparative surgery, Billy, at 5 years old, still needs assistance with the advancement of his speech sound development through therapies and doctor visits. The MeCorder offers him live practice that we can even share with his medical staff when he is feeling a bit shy during his visits. The MeCorder also allows us to share his progress with family and friends too!
One of the challenges for Billy is the air that “leaks” out of his nose when speaking, which is a common problem for people with cleft palates. This makes certain sounds of his speech hard to understand and frustrates him when speaking to others. The MeCorder allows Billy to practice tongue placement. One of the activities recommended by Billy’s speech therapist is for him to yawn
while practicing words in the MeCorder. When yawning, Billy’s tongue moves away from the roof of his mouth and allows him to annunciate the entire word and keeps his tongue placement top of mind. It also makes him laugh, lightening the mood when practicing his speech sounds.
The MeCorder is a great tool for Billy to practice his speech sounds, tongue placement and articulation of words. The recorder has given Billy motivation to practice while having fun and that is important to his development. –Katie C., Mother of 5 year old Billy who has a cleft palate, Oak Park, IL
Smart Snacks Alpha Pops
Have 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
Two for one toy! My daughter loves to use Counting Cookies as a pretend play toy and I can use it with her to sneak in math practice, too. Elodie really enjoys playing baker with the cookies and serves them up to the whole family. She especially likes to pass out cookies to her cousins based on their age!
Counting Cookies allows us to do math activities together. Elodie has dyslexia which causes her difficulty when decoding letters and numbers. This can cause math to be frustrating for Elodie (and Mom too!). With Counting Cookies I can ask Elodie to sort the cookies from biggest to smallest or smallest to biggest using only the candy dots to find the order. After she sets them up, she can turn them over to see the number on the other side and check the order! This builds her math confidence and self-esteem. We also have great fun practicing memory and recall skills. We lay the cookies out, candy dot side up, and Elodie covers her eyes while I remove one cookie. She has to tell me which number cookie is missing!
Elodie likes to put all of the cookies in the cookie jar and hide the jar somewhere in the house so that "Cookie Monster" can't find them! -Heidi B., Mother of 5 year old Elodie who has dyslexia, Pigeon, MI
Pop for Counting™ Game
This game is compact in size and small enough to fit on hospital trays. As a Child Life Specialist I have my go-to games that are easy to bring room to room and play with kids and families. The game is simple to play- spin to take number cards and name that number (or numbers)! The number cards include dice, ladybugs, numerals, hands, and more to quiz kids on numbers 1 to 10.
Pop for Counting is great because there is an element of surprise and a sense of delight when bypassing a "POP" card! This game also promotes self-esteem and confidence when the child knows the right answer to the cards. Play helps develop a sense of control which children do not typically have during their hospital staff. Playing fun games like Pop for Counting helps kids engage in "normal" activities too.
This game gets kids laughing and parents are often intrigued and then interact in game play too! -Jackie M., CCLS (Certified Child Life Specialist), Chicago, IL
Super Sorting Pie
Imagination, recreation and education in the form of a Super Sorting Pie! Michael loves imaginative play and I love toys that will entertain his pretend play interest while encouraging learning too. I know that Michael will learn at a different pace than most of his peers since he has Down syndrome, but I strive to find him toys that will help him excel. Visual and tactile learning is key for Michael and his development. The Super Sorting Pie includes 5 colors- orange, red, yellow, blue and green which keep him engaged without overwhelming him. The sorting cards offer him visual cues to help sort and differentiate the fruit while teaching numbers and colors too.
Michael's favorite activity is to sort the fruit into the pie using the 1-5 numbers sorting card. He is able to independently identify the numbers, place the fruit in the pie with the tweezers and practice verbally counting when dropping the fruit into each section. As a visual and tactile learner, the Super Sorting Pie provides him with the confidence he needs to grow in his cognitive development.
This game allows Michael and me to work on his goals for school- numbers, colors, counting, and verbal communication without a fuss. Super Sorting Pie delights Michael's imagination and delights my push for education. -April A., Mother of 5 year old Michael who has Down syndrome, Chicago, IL
New Sprouts Cure It! My Very Own Doctor Kit
Kids are in the hospital for a lot of different reasons. Even the smallest of procedures can be stressful for them. I am at their hospital bedside for issues small to serious as a Child Life Specialist. The young kids I see are very nervous about any procedure because these experiences are new to them in their young lives. I like to use the New Sprouts Cure It! My Very Own Doctor Kit because the kids can use the tools on me. We play with this set and then I show them the real tools that the doctors and nurses will use. I had one child who was actually relieved to see that the real syringe wasn't as big as the toy!
It's clear to me that when kids get a chance to reverse roles and use the medical tools on their parents or me, they become a bit more confident and brave. Then when they have to go through a procedure with the real instruments, they are prepared and breathe a little easier. This makes the kids less tense and the procedures go faster and smoother. -Rebecca K., Child Life Specialist, Kenosha, WI
Beads & Pattern Card Set
When Billy was born with hydrocephaly, the doctors told us that he would never walk or talk or even hold his head up by himself. Right from the hospital, we got him into every therapy imaginable. It was exhausting, both emotionally and physically for all of us. We worked on all sorts of developmental skills- gross motor and fine motor, cognitive and communicative.
One of his therapists used wooden beads on plastic fish tubing. Once Billy could do that, he "graduated" to the Beads & Pattern Card Set. He was so proud to show off his beads and how they matched perfectly to the cards. His pride is what kept him going back to that set and that set is what helped him gain the skills he needed to button his own jacket! With the help of lots of therapists, Billy is not only holding his head up independently, but he walks (with orthotics) and talks and goes to school just like his brothers.
Our journey with Billy and his therapies has been a long road to success! Billy is still in many different therapies to maintain and gain new skills. Toys can be major motivators. Most of Billy’s milestones have been successful through the use of toys that have been introduced into his many therapies. The Beads & Pattern Card Set will always be remembered as Billy’s tool to button his coat! -Mary K., Mother of 12 year old Billy who has hydrocephaly, Chicago, IL
Gator Grabber Tweezers
As a result of Joey’s stroke in utero, he has a "sleepy side." I am always on the lookout for two-handed play activities so he can strengthen his weaker side. If given a choice, he wouldn't use that side at all. I can give Joey one Gator Grabber for each hand along with a bowl of grapes. The bowl is set to the side so he has to pick up a grape with one Gator, feed it to the other Gator who, in turn, feeds it to him. He got the hang of it, of course, with some grapes on the floor! He doesn’t even realize he is working his weaker side. He just has fun with a couple of goofy gators! We also use the Gator Grabber Tweezers for snack time with different foods (I wouldn’t suggest bananas!) to continually develop his bilateral skills.
Joey and his blue Gator named Chops and his red Gator named Fred have created such a bond that he sometimes even takes them to bed. After he falls asleep, I hang them in different places in his bedroom and he has to see what they've been up to when he wakes up in the morning.
Who knew that these Gators could open up my son's imagination and improve his manual dexterity? Two-handed play is so much better than two-handed “work.” Joey loves using the Gator Grabber Tweezers and Chops and Fred have challenged him positively to continue his physical development. -Melanie A., mother of 4 year old Joey who has physical delays, Chicago, IL
The Talk Bar has helped my son deal with all the details of his day. Now that he is in school and has a tight-schedule, transitioning from one event to the next is sometimes impossible. I realized that by using the Talk Bar Kai could prepare for and predict his day better which made him less obstinate. He also feels more in control! After we write an event on the cards, he places them in the correct order for his schedule. This small act of involvement helps him prepare and participate better.
Once an activity is done, he gets to record it by using the recordable frames. This also gives me an opportunity to get some feedback from him on his day.
The Talk-Bar showed me that my son can be more than a passive participant in his daily routine and allows him to transition, lowering the stress level for both of us. -Jeanine B., Mother of 10 year old Kai who has autism, Chicago, IL
1 to 10 Counting Cans
I love this product! As a recreational therapist, I use it frequently with my kids. It's an engaging tool to practice object permanence by placing food in and taking food out of the cans. Simple counting and beginning math skills are also great lessons to teach with this product. I can incorporate conversations about colors, shapes, sizes, textures, and even preferences on the fruits and veggies that my kiddos enjoy eating!
One of the games I also play using the Counting Cans is to have the children plan their pretend meal using the fruits and veggies and then count the number of items on their plate. This provides me the opportunity to ask them questions- what are we going to pretend eat next, how many items are on their plate, etc. Counting Cans are versatile in creating play activities for children with and without special needs. I work with families that have children of all abilities. Facilitating play with these families keeps me on my toes! I have to think of creative ways to incorporate inclusive play for children at many different ages and stages.
The 1-10 Counting Cans really make counting and sorting fun for the whole family and a great tool for therapists alike. -Hayley A., CTRS (Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist), Chicago, IL
Snap Shots Critical Thinking Cards 4+
The real life photos on these cards are fantastic! The people, animals and objects on the cards keep Blake visually engaged. He communicates and directs attention by pointing. The cards have many different pictures to delight his "pointing" curiosities. Blake has developmental apraxia and is currently working on making beginning letter sounds in speech therapy. His most recent language milestone is making the letter sounds of p, b and m. The Snap Shots cards are useful for in between speech therapy activities so that we can continue practicing language at home.
One of the games we play is "I Spy." Blake picks out four Snap Shots cards of his choice and we lay them out in front of us. I will say, "I spy something that starts with a 'p' sound" and then Blake can point to the people, animals and objects on the cards that start with that sound for example, pig, popcorn, penny, and painting while also mimicking the 'p' phoneme of each picture he points to.
Blake lights up when we play with the Snap Shots Critical Thinking Cards. He is confident in his ability to create new found sounds and the cards motivate him to continue working hard on his speech and language skills!- Tammy C., Mother of 3 year old Blake who has developmental apraxia, Chicago, IL
Snap Shots Critical Thinking Cards 6+
As soon as the vivid, real-life photo cards came out of the box, my students were eager to start telling stories! The cards triggered memories of summer, friends, events and family pets that the kids wanted to share. I have many children as a Speech Therapist that are English Language Learners (ELL) in the school setting. My goal is to help these children excel in their speech and language abilities. The Snap Shots Critical Thinking Cards provide me the opportunity to get stellar
language samples from my students. The language samples help me write speech and language goals and gather the child's language abilities and overall conversational skills. This is an especially helpful tool at the beginning and end of the school year to track progression.
The Snap Shots Critical Thinking Cards are versatile, allowing me to use them with my students that need extra help, as well as students that are excelling in speech and language. One of my favorite games to play with students is "Guess that Card!" We use a big table to spread out as many cards as we can and the students visually select a card to describe to me. The real-life pictures are so imaginative that the students are able to describe the cards independently which can be a challenging skill to teach as a Speech Therapist.
Speech and language correlates with performance in school like reading, writing, and critical thinking skills and influences emotional, cognitive and social growth. Finding toys and games like the Snap Shots cards that influence my students to grow in their speech and language is helpful to me and my students! -Susmita B., Speech Therapist, Chicago, IL
Basic Vocabulary Photo Cards
The Basic Vocabulary Photo Cards are all about the sight words! Using the photo cards to learn sight words have been a positive and motivating experience for Catherine. The cards include realistic photos and can be used in multiple activities to help her excel in reading and comprehension skills. Catherine is seven years old and has Down syndrome. She doesn’t have interest in books and becomes agitated and overwhelmed by the task of reading. That’s why we’ve started to focus on individual sight words with the help of the Basic Vocabulary Photo Cards.
One of Catherine’s teachers recommended an activity for us using the cards. We select a small stack of cards and flip through them in quick 5 minute periods throughout the week. Each week we remove one of the cards she's been working on and replace it with a new one. Towards the end of each week, I've started to cover up the picture and just show the word. She's really learning them- one word on each card is a digestible amount for Catherine! She doesn't get frustrated like she did with a whole sentence. The pictures and the words are very clear with simple backgrounds. This, too, helps her stay focused and not get frustrated.
There are so many cards in this set that by the time we go through them all, Catherine will be able to associate the vocabulary words from the photo cards in books and even start to read on her own! -Eileen O., mother of 7 year old Catherine who has Down syndrome, Chicago, IL
Sensory Tubes LER 2445
As a preschool teacher in an inclusive classroom, tools like Sensory Tubes are a life saver! The busy
little bodies in my classroom can accidently create spills and messes during lessons, but the Sensory
Tubes allow me to share items with peace of mind. The tubes can be twisted tightly shut with solid
or vented lids allowing students to discover independently via their olfactory and visual senses. This
is much relief for teachers!
The Sensory Tubes provide fun for many classroom lessons and activities and give my kids with
tactile sensitivities the freedom to explore inclusively alongside their other classmates. My students
have gone on scavenger hunts in the classroom, as well as, outside on the playground to fill the
tubes. For example, the kids might be asked to fill their tubes with only green items which help
them work on color recognition and identification. One of my favorite classroom activities is using
the tubes with vented lids to practice our olfactory senses! Before putting items in the tube, I roll
up a piece of laminated legal size paper (trimming a bit off the top) to disguise different scents.
Scents like vanilla, ripe banana, slices of orange from the kitchen and outdoor scents like dirt, grass
and pine cones are great tools to see what the nose knows.
I enjoy using the Sensory Tubes in my classroom because it provides the students with structure
but also independence to discover freely. -Beth T., Teacher, Pigeon, MI
Shape Sorting Cupcakes
Shape 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
ABC Lacing Sweets
ABC Lacing Sweets helps my daughter strengthen her vision. Stephanie has amblyopia or “lazy eye.” At two years old, I noticed she would cover one eye to focus her sight and her eye started to turn inward. With her diagnosis, I can now find activities to support her vision therapy that will help strengthen the communication between both of her eyes. The hand-eye coordination of ABC Lacing Sweets is a fantastic activity for her to master while using both eyes in tandem to lace the letters.
Stephanie loves pretend play and as her mom, I also try to incorporate educational components into her play. Not only is Stephanie able to “work at a sweet shop,” she can identify letters, sort vowels and consonants, and match upper and lowercase letters during play. ABC Lacing Sweets is beneficial for spelling practice too. We like to play our made-up game, “Spelling Snacks.” I can ask her for a C-A-T snack and she can find the letters with the candy scoop and then lace them on the string to spell and verbally tell me “cat.”
So much learning occurs visually in young children. I knew that early intervention was key to Stephanie’s development. The ABC Lacing Sweets set is fun for Stephanie and still allows her to practice her visual communication and strengthen her vision. –Brandi P., Mom of 5 year old Stephanie who has amblyopia, Chicago, IL
Froggy Feeding Fun Activity Set
Over the past several years, I have seen an increase in young children coming to occupational therapy who have overall weaker fine motor strength and control. My own opinion is the increase has to do with kids having extended time using tablets and other smart devices with touch screens. They no longer color with crayons, which increases strength in fingers and develops a firm grasp needed for handwriting. Even core strength is affected because when they are coloring or playing at a table, they sit straight and tall which engages their core. When kids play on tablets, many times they are hunched over on the couch.
To combat the tablet technology craze and help develop fine motor strength and reach milestones, I look for fun games and activities that promote the hand movements necessary for grasping and pinching. Froggy Feeding Fun is perfect for this! The rubber frogs provide enough resistance that kids really have to work their hands to grasp and squeeze. Picking up the flies helps build eye-hand coordination, which is necessary for daily living skills as well as writing and coloring. And we have lots of laughs when the frogs "burp" up the flies!
Froggy Feeding Fun helps kids release a tight squeeze, further developing hand control and strength. Using games like Froggy Feeding Fun also shows caregivers that their kids can and will play traditional games that don’t require a charge! -Christina P., OTR (Occupational Therapist, Registered), Skokie, IL
As a speech therapist in a middle school setting, this game is beneficial to building my students' oral language skills and most importantly, their confidence. The game includes different prompt cards for the students to describe step by step instructions, happenings, favorites and opinions. The best part is their answers are never wrong! All responses are part of a "no judgment zone" because all dialogue is opinion-based--which in middle school is very important (and gets students talking and opening up!).
The Speaker's Box offers so much variety that it is easy for me to cater each game to the student I am working with. I know what questions they will be comfortable answering and I can ask them follow up questions based on their answers. The blank cards also offer me even more flexibility to customize each game.
I highly recommend the Speaker's Box for therapists and families alike. This game is a great tool for not only honing oral language skills, but also confidence and self-esteem as kids get older and present to their classmates for assignments. What's more, it gets students thinking for themselves. -Amy L., SLP (Speech & Language Pathologist), Chicago, IL
Creative Writing Flip Chart
Great classroom tool! I teach in a predominantly Hispanic community and my classroom is comprised of English Language Learners (ELL). The Creative Writing Flip Chart helps spark ideas and assists my ELL students to remember to include the 4 W's or main points of who, what, where and when writing stories. There are 30 options per W question (15 per side). Real life images are included on one side and short phrases are included on the other side of the cards.
For an all class activity (and to get creative juices flowing!), I like to play a mixed game of drawing and charades. The student drawing or acting uses the Creative Writing Flip Chart to select the words from the cards. The other students get to guess what they are drawing or acting out under
the categories of who, what, where and when. This classroom activity gets my students enthusiastic about writing and empowers them with new ideas for drafting their own story especially when the kids blurt out other outrageous ideas like a dog wearing shoes.
It is important for me to provide my students with tools to help them learn in different ways. The Creative Writing Flip Chart engages them visually and encourages them form ideas to independently do their creative writing assignments and confidently practice their English. -Nicole S., Teacher, Chicago, IL
Story Starter Picture Cubes
This set is a great activity for speech therapy, but I can also use it as a reward since the kids love the excitement of rolling the colorful Story Starter Picture Cubes! I use one cube of each color- blue, orange, and green for the kids to roll and create short sentences. Minimizing the number of cubes also helps them focus on the task of creating a sentence. Blue represents a person, orange represents a place, and green represents a thing. The anticipation builds and excitement heightens with the roll of the cubes as the students create silly stories. The cubes help me reinforce repetition of articles- a, an, and, the, which is one of the major lessons I repeatedly teach my students in speech therapy.
One of the tasks I give to my students is journaling. Journaling helps them continue their speech and language lessons at the forefront of their memory and keep fresh for each speech therapy session. The journals start with a roll of the story cubes. Students get to communicate a few sentences of their story and jot down some thoughts in their journal at the end of the session. Their job is to continue adding on to the story until their next speech session. At the next session, they can tell me their story and explain their drawings.
Using the Story Starter Pictures Cubes helps my students with their speech, language and communication skills. Fun tools help motivate my students to practice which in turn helps their confidence to advance their skills. -Keri L., Speech Therapist, Oak Park, IL
Conversation 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
Reading Comprehension Cubes
Comprehension is a tough skill to teach and many kids have trouble with it. As a resource teacher, I work one on one with children who need more assistance with reading comprehension. These Reading Comprehension Cubes have been one of the best tools I've discovered. Playing a "game" is fun for kids. Utilizing the cubes during reading provides checkpoints- pre-reading, during-reading and after-reading. Comprehension is solidified throughout the story instead of solely at the end. I have found that rolling the pre-reading red cubes has really helped the kids focus at the beginning (which is critical) and help them stay engaged during their entirety of reading.
I love the cubes for small group work when I assist multiple kids at a time with reading comprehension. The kids have to take turns, listen to and learn from classmates and learn how to work in groups. It turns out this is one of the best tricks of the trade! -Mary Pat L., Teacher, Chicago, IL
Alphabet Soup Sorters
Ryan loves to learn - thank goodness! Ever since he was a baby, he's loved when we sing or read to him. He is now almost three and has Down syndrome. When he was a baby, I'd sing all different nursery songs, including the alphabet song. Any chance I'd get I would say letters of the alphabet and the sounds they make. It was especially good in the grocery cart because he was a captive audience! He has started to remember sounds now and he knows about 12 letters.
We got him the Alphabet Soup Sorters as a Christmas gift and he's taken to them like a fish to water! We take one can at a time and dump the cards out. We look at the letter card and match it to the letter on the can. Then we look at each card and say what it is. This also helps him develop the muscles in his mouth he needs to articulate better.
I also put together letters to spell simple words so we could sound them out. It is a bit beyond what he can do right now, but that's what's so great about this set. I can already see how we can use it in the future. It was definitely a great purchase that will help us prepare Ryan for school success. -Kathy W., Mother of 3 year old Ryan who has Down syndrome, Chicago, IL
Ruff's House Teaching Tactile Set
My daughter loves toys and play products that provide her with extra sensory stimulation. Ruff's House provides Abbie an element of surprise with different textures like smooth, silky, scratchy or bumpy when reaching into the dog house to find a bone. The bones are easy for Abbie to grasp and hold on to which allows her to be independent and eases her frustration during play.
Sensory stimulation is important to Abbie's learning and discovery. Through exploration, Abbie has the ability to independently soothe and calm herself by feeling the different textured bones and allows her to attend to play for longer periods of time. Ruff's House includes 20 bones with 10 different textures for her to visually and tactilely enjoy. The soft furry bones are her favorite to feel on her face and squeeze in her hands!
Ruff's House has brightly colored bones, a cute little puppy and lots of different textures to stimulate the senses. -Carrie G., Mother of 4 year old Abbie who has Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome, Oak Park, IL
As 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
I homeschool my four children and I like this product because of the variety of play possibilities! One of my four children has a learning disability and I often need to think outside of the box to help him understand different concepts of the lessons I am teaching. The bulbs on the Twisty Droppers are easy for my kids to pinch and lightweight to maneuver enhancing their fine motor skills. I use them at our water table to create stimulating activities. The kids enjoy squeezing up water from the table and dropping it into a container or even over their hands.
The Twisty Droppers create a nice breeze when squeezing the bulbs which also promotes other play activities like marble races and air painting. Each person gets a marble and a dropper and on the count of 3- 1,2,3!, we race them across the room. For painting, I put a few drops of paint on a piece of paper and have the kids use the air from squeezing the droppers to watch the paint spread across the page.
It is important for me to have creative and fun activities for my kids to do throughout the school day. Each of my kids learns differently and the Twisty Droppers help me reiterate the lesson. They provide entertainment for my kids while learning at the same time! -Heather B., Mother of 6 year old James who has a learning disability, Franklin Park, IL
Gears! Gears! Gears!® Beginner's Building Set
Finding toys that will engage, entertain and allow Elliot to attend to play for an extended period of time can be challenging. Elliot is fast paced and always looking for the next fun thing to do. As his parents, we look for toys that provide both recreation and education. The Gears! Gears! Gears!® Beginner's Building Set has helped Elliot stay on task during play and focus his hyperactivity and attention. It is important for Elliot to be able to play independently and have quiet time to wind down, especially at the end of the day.
When Elliot has extra energy, we hide the gears around the house for him to find. This is a great way to channel his energy and keep it focused. Playing with the gears provides structure to his energy and movement and the game still allows him to stay on task. There is no wrong way to build and he loves to see how many gears he can spin at once. Elliot is excited when he creates something new!
We are always thrilled when we find a new toy that gives Elliot the opportunity to have independent down time. It is good practice for him to learn patience and impulse control for home and school. -Sarah & Shawn I., parents of 6 year old Elliot who has ADHD, Evanston, IL
I'm always trying to find toys for my grandchildren that have an underlying benefit. I think the Number Bugs teach children to problem-solve. Connecting and disconnecting the bug pieces can be a physical and cognitive challenge for them. Each bug is one solid color with black dots adding a visual counting "tool." I love to watch my grandkids pull the bugs apart and put them back together with mismatched colors.
Pretending to be bug collectors is a big hit with all of my grandkids! The bucket is a great collecting jar for finding the bugs and even has "breathing holes" in the top. I like to hide the bug parts around the room (or even outside!) and ask the kids to find one bug and all of its pieces. For example, if they find a yellow bug head first, they have to finish finding the other two pieces before finding another color bug (even if they spot another color!). This game creates an even playing field for all of them, especially my grandson with autism. Games that are visual and physical provide him the most success and let him play inclusively with his cousins.
These bugs are great for number and color recognition and identification and practicing beginning math skills. Being a former teacher myself, it's important to me to find toys that provide a foundation for learning. I found that in the Number Bugs. -Marlene M., Grandma of 4 year old Nathan who has autism, Chicago, IL
These Handy Scoopers are a terrific way to help kids develop the muscles and coordination in their hands. My daughter Emily, who has developmental delays, has fun using the Handy Scoopers for lots of different activities. Her favorite activity is when I fill up the kitchen sink and she can watch the water drain out of the Handy Scoopers’ holes. We also add in plastic fish ice cubes so she can go “fishing” in the sink too. This is a great way for her to gain the motor skills and precision for using scissors!
A favorite play date activity is using large craft pompom balls. I dump the multicolored pompoms into a big salad bowl and Emily and her friend can pick them up one by one with a Handy Scooper and separate the colors into muffin tins. This activity is such a big hit that we continued to use the craft pompoms with the Handy Scoopers, but made it into a relay race game. I set up individual bowls of pompoms on the counter and empty bowls on the kitchen table. The kids raced back and forth picking up a pompom and then opening the Handy Scooper and dropping each in the empty bowls. Boy was it a blast to watch!
The Handy Scoopers are sized perfectly for small hands and they can be used for left or right handers, which we found out when we learned one of her friends was a lefty! I like coming up with different activities that can help improve Emily's development while feeding her creative spirit. The Handy Scoopers mimic how she needs to position and move her hand when she eventually cuts with scissors. This is a great way to get her ready for school so she can cut like all the other kids. -Michelle B., Mother of 5 year old Emily who has developmental delays, Chicago, IL
Count 'Em Up Popcorn
Count '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
Stack & Count Layer Cake
Cakes, even the pretend ones, will get my daughter’s attention! The cakes are brightly colored with fun frosting designs to delight her visual senses. My daughter can be challenging to motivate and she has a short attention span. Finding toys that will encourage Mary Angel to play while teaching her too can be hard to find. Mary Angel has fetal alcohol syndrome which affects her cognitive, physical and behavioral development. The Stack & Layer Cakes promote learning, as well as influence her imagination which is positive for teaching her social skills.
One of the activities we do is stack the cakes on our heads like hats and even try to balance multiple cakes on top! This helps Mary Angel practice her gross motor skills and balance and coordination. Each of the cakes are numbered from 1-10 with a matching number of stars on top of the cake. Mary Angel can practice her numbers and colors by stacking, nesting and sorting the cakes.
Toys that motivate her learning and put a smile on her face make me one happy Mom! Traditional learning may not always work for Mary Angel. Toys like the Stack & Layer Cakes help her learn visually and tactilely to solidify her understanding. –Catherine H., Mother of 4 year old Mary Angel with fetal alcohol syndrome, Atlanta, GA
Super Sorting Set
What a perfect name for this set because it is positively super! The Super Sorting Set includes everything you could want and more. I have two children- a 6yr old girl and a 4yr old boy. My son
has autism. This set has made a world of difference for our home playtime. There are enough pieces that both of my kids can play with the set simultaneously and not get in each other's way. It is so nice to see them both sitting at the same table playing with the same toy.
There is typically little to no interaction between my children. My son is not good at sharing toys or personal space with others including his sister which is something we work on daily at home and in therapy. The set has allowed them to not only share a toy, but also allowed them to find common ground and bond a little as playmates. My daughter will put one color in each compartment and then my son fills them up with the matching color. My kids don't even realize that they are working on the same thing that they do in school and therapy.
The set is entertaining for them and pure joy for me. When my son was diagnosed with autism, I never thought my kids would play together. The Super Sorting Set has proven me wrong! -Jeanne M., Mother of 4 year old Jaden who has autism, Chicago, IL
Write-on/Wipe-off Magnetic Sound Box Answer Boards
Learning syllables can be challenging! I believe that kids need multiple modes of learning to help knowledge stick- not all of my students learn the same way. The answer boards provide my students with visual, tactile and even auditory learning which helps them to understand the
syllabification of words. My inclusive English class includes students with various abilities and my goal is to provide fun tools to impact their learning.
One of my class’ favorite activities is dividing into groups to play a (friendly) competitive round of “Syllable Sound Off.” Each group gets an answer board and 4 magnetic cars. I will say a word aloud and the first group to hold up their answer board with the correct number of cars and correctly “chunk” or decode the syllables out loud, wins the round! This game adds another element of learning to my classroom and helps tremendously when practicing weekly spelling words.
When students are able to break words into syllables, the words become easier to decode. This helps them remember spelling patterns and promotes reading fluency and ultimately comprehension for my variety of learners. –Jaclyn T., Teacher, Grand Blanc, MI
This is a fantastic tool for helping my child with his sight words for school! My son has a speech
impairment and school activities like reading and spelling words are a sore spot at homework time.
Because Dylan has a different phonological representation of sounds and words, he is not able to
recognize them when reading.
The Talk Boards make reading and spelling much more fun! We can use the Talk Boards to write
out words he is working on and I can record the pronunciation. When he gets stuck, he can press
the play button to hear the correct pronunciation of the word and also practice saying it. The Talk Boards are also an amusing way for him to write out and record words for me to guess too. Dylan is always proud of himself when he secretly writes and records new words for me to try and pronounce.
The Talk Boards give my son a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of confidence with reading and spelling! -Beckie E., Mother of 5 year old Dylan who has a speech impairment, Pigeon, MI
All About Me 2 in 1 Mirrors
As a Mom of a child with developmental delays, I am always looking for new ways to inspire play and encourage development through fun toys and activities. The All About Me 2 in 1 Mirrors have a standard mirror on one side with a fun mirror that changes your reflection on the other- my daughter, Angela, thinks this is hilarious!
These mirrors are fantastic to use in the car! My daughter is non-verbal, but these mirrors inspire her oral motor movements and sounds as she is able to entertain herself in the car by watching herself in the mirror. If the radio is on, watch out! Even though Angela does not speak words, she has lots of attitude and loves to "sing" and groove with the music on trips in the car. The set comes with six mirrors, so we always have one on hand in the take-along bag, Grandma's car, Dad's car and even one in my purse!
I know that one day Angela will be talking our ears off! My job right now is to continue finding toys for her that are motivators to get her talking. The All About Me 2 in 1 Mirrors have provided her with the inspiration and confidence to make sounds and form new words! -Kathy L., Mother of 6 year old Angela who has developmental delays, Franklin Park, IL
All About Me Mirror Boards
I teach children who are on the autism spectrum. Some of what we focus on in class are emotions and the feelings and sensations that accompany them. We are working on emotion vocabulary, how to identify an emotion and how to recreate emotions with our own faces.
The All About Me Mirror Boards have been a fantastic asset to my class. I have emotion flash cards that we've used for many years to help identify emotions - happy, sad, surprised, angry, etc. Now we use them along with these mirrors. We identify the picture and then I have the students imitate that emotion in a mirror. I am working with them to look at my face while making good eye contact and imitate the same expression I make. After imitating me, they can continue practicing in the All About Me Mirror Boards.
Practicing emotions and facial expressions has been a long process and one we will continue all year. But I have seen improvement in how my students use their faces to express what they are feeling and better understand the emotions of others. This is a wonderful accomplishment for my students and their families. -Jennifer F., Teacher, Evanston, IL
This 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
Trail Mix & Match
This set is awesome! The trail mix pieces are high quality and include a variety of trail mix options- raisins, peanuts, candies, crackers. My daughter has a visual impairment and these trail mix pieces are large in size and provide different textures and shapes for her to identify which piece is which.
One of the games we play is "feel and find." We select different trail mix pieces to go in the nylon bag and reach our hands in without looking to feel and then find the correct piece!
Toys like Trail Mix & Match are valuable to Molly's play experience. The quality of the pieces and the textures, sizes and shapes easily allow her to interact with peers and simply…play! -Russell A., father of 4 year old Molly who has a visual impairment, Crown Point, IN
Where is Howie's Owie?
Where is Howie's Owie? is a great tool for my 6 year old son, Caleb who has ADHD. His curiosity of the body can sometimes become inappropriate in public settings. Where is Howie's Owie? allows us to teach Caleb about body awareness and the appropriate places to touch someone when getting their attention or saying hello. We use the write & wipe side to identify body parts (even more than the designated lines suggest) and we use the bandages on the magnetic side to differentiate the appropriate body parts for social situations.
Where is Howie's Owie? also enables us to begin lessons involving the human body. We are able to name body parts and discuss their functions. I give Caleb descriptions and he places the bandages on the body part I am describing. For example, this body part allows you to make expressions or we can grasp or hold objects with this body part.
Where is Howie's Owie? helps us teach Caleb about body awareness (his own and others) and helps him understand the social etiquettes of the body too. -Cassandra B., Mother of 6 year old Caleb who has ADHD, Chicago, IL
Pretend & Play School Set
This is such a go-to for focus! I remember feeling very secure in my study carrels at school. It gave me the structure I needed to attend to the books in front of me and tune out everything else. I realize now that this Pretend & Play School does the same thing for my son. He has trouble with attention and focus. The tri-fold design of this school lets me set it up on the kitchen table and place his real homework in the middle. The walls seem to help him tune out the ambient hustle and bustle of the rest of the house and he can sit attentively and do more work.
I actually did a test - it was my own "informal" test to feed my curiosity. For several days, my son did his homework sheets with the Pretend & Play School framing his work zone. On the fourth day, I didn't set it out for him and told him to do his homework sheet at the table - sitting in the same chair, in the same room, with the typical noises surrounding him. He was much more fidgety; his handwriting was messier and he didn't get through the first side of the homework. We use the dry erase board to write all his nightly homework down. It helps him to be able to cross them off one by one as he completes them. We also set the clock on the Pretend & Play School to the time when he can have a scheduled homework break. When that clock matches the clock on the wall, he can have a few minutes to himself. It's working like a charm!
This is a big improvement from what homework time used to be and I know it's because we have used the Pretend & Play School! -Bradley T., Father of 7 year old Carson who has ADD, Redford, MI
New Sprouts Deluxe Market Set
As a social worker, my job is to empower families to make educated decisions. Oftentimes I assist with making healthy food choices for families on fixed incomes. The New Sprouts Deluxe Market Set is a great tool to use in my office or at a home visit with a family. Kids can be fast learners and sometimes better at following food recommendations than parents! This market set has a variety of foods from fruits and vegetables to sweets and treats. It also includes a grocery basket so I can teach families about what to put in their actual basket at the store and what to steer clear of.
One of the activities I ask the kids to do is separate the food items into categories of fruits, veggies, proteins, etc. so that we can discuss MyPlate recommendations by the USDA. Many of the families I work with have health conditions, more specifically, obesity and diabetes. Sharing this information with the kids is beneficial for the parents too! Come grocery shopping time, kids will hopefully remember to shop more in the produce aisle than the bakery and snack aisles.
Healthy eating habits for the entire family can start with the kids! -Maryellen B., MSW (Master of Social Work), Franklin Park, IL
Retell a Story Cubes
Making it a game has made all the difference in the world! I have two kids - one who is a veracious reader and the other who would never read again if given the chance. Nicholas always seemed to struggle with reading and certainly had trouble with getting the overall message of the passage. We would read together, so I know he read every word. But he got struck on the little details and missed the point. During parent-teacher conferences his teachers have repeatedly mentioned that Nicholas isn't picking up on key facts and he brings up irrelevant information from the content.
At home I started to ask "probing" questions, like the teacher suggested. It mildly helped. Until I got my hands on the Retell a Story Cubes! All of a sudden, reading became more of a game. My son became more cooperative with reading because he'd get to roll the dice and prove his point. We started out with just one die, but as his competitive streak leaked in, he started using more and answering each question that surfaced. Nicholas’ learning disability was not the focus of his reading any longer.
The cubes successfully helped Nicholas address his reading comprehension and have enabled him to grasp the content, identify the facts and understand what he's read. I am so grateful to Learning Resources for creating this! It is a simple solution to a difficult problem! -Lisa R., Mother of 10 year old Nicholas who has a learning disability, Chicago, IL
I never bought into gimmicky tricks with my kids, but this Time Tracker is the real deal. It works. Period. My two kids have difficulty staying on task, especially if that task is getting ready for school. And my son has sensory processing issues, which tend to prolong the daunting task even more. I saw the Time Tracker at a local toy retailer and was intrigued. It has three lights: green, yellow and red. You can program each color for the amount of time you want. When it's green, you have plenty of time. Yellow and you need to be getting ready and red you should be done.
I tried it with my kids right before dinner. They were playing when it was green. When it turned yellow, I told them it was time to start cleaning up. When it was red, they were to come to the table. I was shocked that it was so effortless! Once they understood it, I used it for the morning routine. Green and they have time to lollygag. When it turns yellow, they need to be getting their clothes on and red they are to come to breakfast. I wish I found this sooner! They no longer argue for "just a few more minutes."
The yellow directed them with a visual cue that it was time to get going and it was more than just Mom's opinion - it was serious fact that it was time. That made all the difference in the world. The demands were no longer coming from me. They are learning to be more independent and I was taken out of the equation. It has been wonderful!
I don't use the optional sounds because my son has very sensitive hearing and he responds better when it is off. That's a really nice feature to have! It worked so well at home that I bought one for my son's teacher and now my son reaps the benefit of consistency in time management on all fronts. -Christine J., Mother of 5 year old Bode who has sensory processing disorder, Chicago, IL