Mr. Potato head is an all american toy that has been around since 1952. His wife, Mrs. Potato head came about a year later in 1953. For many years, this toy has been on television commercials, movies (i.e. TOY STORY), and continues to fill the shelves at many of your toy stores.
From a Speech and Language perspective, children can learn so much from just one toy! In other words, they can use Mr. Potato head in multiple ways to target many different language skills. Here is a list of some helpful ways to “play” with Mr. Potato head for emerging language skills:
- Naming/Identifying Body Parts — This spud comes with all kinds of body parts, particularly arms, shoes, hats, ears, and a variety of faces. These pieces work on identifying and understanding body parts “where is his nose?” and you can then relate it to the child “Where is your nose?” It is important for children to understand and name their body parts so they can express themselves in all environments. “I hurt my nose”.
- Clothing Item Names — Mr. Potato Head also comes with many different clothing items and accessories. This is a great way to teach items like earrings, purse, hat, etc. If you purchase multiple sets you can have different types of items to target also. For example you can get ones at Halloween time and target the different costumes.
- Two Word Phrases — For all those children who are only speaking in one word utterances, try adding words to make two word combinations. “Blue shoes, green hat, big eyes”. This skill works on identifying items and putting two words together to expand the child’s vocabulary.
- Social/Pragmatic Skills — To use Mr. Potato head around the house, have him participate in the child’s activities. We call this term “parallel talk”, which is when an adult facilitates language by saying what the child is doing. For example: “he is jumping” or “look at him jump” when the child is making him jump. Some other actions verbs include but are not limited to: sleeping, walking, running, dancing etc. Be Creative! You can also work on turn taking and eye contact while playing.
- Prepositions/Spatial Concepts — A fun way to practice this skill is to hide different parts of Mr. Potato and give directions to find the missing pieces using terms such as “above, under, next to, in, and out”. You can also work on concepts such as “first, next, last” to practice sequencing and following directions.