Soup season is upon us! To set up this fall activity you will need a bowl, cooking pot, soup spoon, aluminum foil, and small plastic toys. First, we wrapped up play food items and small toys and set them in a mixing bowl. We then took turns scooping items out of the bowl. Next, we opened each item and put them in the pot and mixed them all together, voilà!- you have a pretty interesting soup mixture & you can help support your child’s motor and speech development along the way. Here’s how-
SPEECH / LANGUAGE SKILLS
When you are in a group, you can support your child’s understanding of pronouns by modeling, “my turn, your turn, her turn, his turn”. You can discuss the items you have in your piles, “this one is mine and that one is yours’ ‘. Many action words can be shown during play, “take one, get it, scoop it, pick one, open it, mix the soup, put your toy in”. When you open up the aluminum foil, your child has an opportunity to label various nouns, “food, pizza, car, squishy ball”. When your child expresses interest or distaste in an item, comments can be modeled, “I like that one, I don’t like it, that’s my favorite, woahhhhh, look ”. Descriptive language can be used to discuss the new items you found, “small, that’s big, it’s squishy, crunch crunch”. Another important language development skill is to be able to answer yes/no questions about concrete items. During this activity, you could ask your child yes/no questions such as, “Is that an orange you unwrapped?”, and give them an opportunity for them to show you their understanding of specific nouns by answering yes or no.
After you unwrap new items, you can model speech sounds by putting the toy near your mouth to give visual cues for how to say certain sounds. Your speech therapist might have other visual or gestural cues to support the production of various sounds. By the age of 3, we want to make sure our children are able to say the ending sounds in words. You can use visuals such as the ending sound visual and have your child follow along with their finger all the way to the end of the word and emphasize the final sound in the word.
SOCIAL / PLAY SKILLS
Social skills can also be instructed during this group activity. You can support your child’s turn taking abilities by having one person scoop up an item at a time. Attending to your communication partners turn and waiting is a crucial turn taking skill. This can be supported by pointing to who is up in order to establish the group’s attention on one person’s action and item. Quite often it can be challenging for children to understand when to answer questions in a group. You could use someone’s name, “Taylor”, and then ask, “What did you find?” If others answer the question for Taylor, then you can say, “We’re letting Taylor do the thinking on this one, let’s wait and listen until we hear your name!”
This activity is GREAT for targeting bilateral coordination, fine motor manipulation and dexterity skills. Ensure the child is using both hands to work on unwrapping the item, one to stabilize/hold the item and the other to pinch and pull the foil off. Encourage the child to use a pincer grasp (thumb and index finger) to pinch the foil. If it is too challenging to unwrap independently, start the process for them by making the foil easier to grasp. Another option to downgrade this task is to very loosely wrap the item or use a much smaller piece of foil so the item underneath is visible. On the other hand, upgrade the task by wrapping the item tighter or with more foil!
Incorporate gross motor skills and postural stability by encouraging the child to sit, kneel, or stand in different positions throughout the task. The most challenging position to complete this activity is laying on the stomach. This prone position emphasizes core strength, shoulder stability, and weight shifting. Some seated positions to consider trying are side sitting and long leg sitting. When it comes to kneeling, have the child try tall kneeling or kneeling on just one leg. You can even have them squat!
The foil and the items wrapped inside are perfect for targeting tactile sensory input. Be sure to include many different textured items wrapped inside the foil – squishy, soft, bumpy, rough, silky, you name it!
Want to up the sensory input? Have the foil balls floating in water, shaving cream, slime/putty, or whatever you have available! This additional component of messy play increases the sensory processing required, enhancing the system.
Incorporate the vestibular system by having the child spin in a circle 2-3 times before reaching for their next item. Incorporate the proprioceptive system by having the child close their eyes and feel around for the next foil ball.
We hope you enjoy this delicious fall-themed pretend soup activity! Have fun and get creative with it:)