Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
Summer is almost here with school close to being out for the long break, which means children are home and therapies through the school district are on hold. Most often extended school year consists of half days with inconsistent therapy at a school that your child might not be familiar with. The other option we choose each summer is camp.
Since my nonverbal son Matthew has his birthday at the end of June, with this year turning eleven, there is an introduction of new toys at the start of each summer. The items I purchased this year were from Kidscope Toys and will be reviewed later in the summer. Toys are rotated for his floortime therapy sessions, so not the same product will be played with each week. Once Matthew has played with an item over several sessions and on weekends plus other days with no therapy, I feel we can evaluate the product and share what works in our household.
These Leap Frog products were purchased for recent holidays and have kept his interest for periods of play, depending on the mood of the day. These items are worth introducing to your child so they can continue with their memory and matching skills. Leap Frog products are good for family members to purchase for their own home and to keep in car for long rides or have on hand for plane rides, train travel, etc. for the child to be occupied and engaged with another person. All LeapFrog products come with a Parent Guide.
You can check out the Leap Frog Special Needs Page to read feeback from consumer families and post your own comments on the Leap Frog products that are a hit with your child who has special needs or is on the Autism Spectrum.
Leap Frog Phonics Radio - This is kept on the dresser near the television set where Matthew spends a good deal of time watching videos. I keep it in the on position frequently if I see he is showing interest in pressing the buttons. If the unit is not touched it will shut itself off and not distract the child, but will start blinking yellow, green and yellow lights when activated.
The red handle and compact design make this a portable toy for use anywhere when the family is on the go. LeapFrog Phonics Radio requires three AA batteries and has a switch to turn on, off and turn volume louder. There are two options, as well as three tunes to listen to. The white flip pages represent the alphabet with a help button in the middle to playg the mystery tune game.
The lights flash around the letters in a nice array of color with pleasing sound effects that include clapping when choosing the correct letter and flattering pats on the back when doing a good job. The voices are both female and male that sing and talk the instructions - press a button to hear a song, press the leap frog button to play find that letter, thanks for learning with leapfrog, bye bye.
The LeapFrog Phonics Radio is suitable for toddlers, preschoolers and older children that works on eye-hand coordination, language development, cognitive development, visual perception and creativity. This toy can be utilized by therapists, teachers and group settings as well. This product also comes in a Spanish version as well.
LeapFrog Spell & Match -this comes in a wood phonics box appropriate for ages 4 through 7. A grow with me toy that promotes ready-for-school skills such as matching/spelling, rhyming and phonics. There are 36 pieces total that consist of 12 picture tiles and 24 letter tiles.
There are two rows of four squares on the top to spell and match words. It is easy to slide open and close, with the tiles being stored inside. The vowels are printed in red with the other letters represented in purple, gree, blue and orange. The words include - van, bat, can, map, hog, cat, nap, bug, bed and cap.
This activity can be utilized through therapy and for solo play with prompts. My son Matthew likes to feel the tiles and sometimes stims on them before he continues with placing them in the correct spot. Don't necessarily go by the recommended age range for toys and think because your child with autism is 10 that this is not suitable. I never go by the age range, instead looking for sorting and matching items I know will reinforce the learning process from school and be something to use with the Child Development Specialist.
The Parent Guide explains the three levels the LeapFrog Spell & Match can perform with the back page listing all the three and four letter words possible. A key sentence within the guide to note often, " Allow your child some time to explore the puzzle." I store this product with other puzzles for easy access. We have the English version.
LeapFrog Memory Mate - this can be played by one or more players over the age of three. There are 90 Spanish/English memory mate cards in red and green colors. This bilingual game does not have a separate storing container for the cards, so keep the box for storage purposes. Out of all LeapFrog products we have in our household this one is more challening and overwhelming for Matthew.
We have learned it is best not to fill the table with all the cards for him to match, as this is just too much. A few rows works better for him to focus and concentrate on the task at hand. The green side of the card is the item picture and spelling of the word. The opposite side is red with the words Memory Mate and Leap Frog.
Some of the words include - pig, baby, doll, money, eye, cake, chicken, chair, hand, flower, boy, sun, father, mother, horse, head, corn, table, school, fish, la oveja, el pan, el perro, la leche, el abrigo and el ojo. I figured since all the other children at school speak Spanish that some key words for our family to learn would be good.
This is more of a matching activity for Matthew than learning another Language, but it can be expanded into that as the need arises and his skills expand. The cards are a heavy cardstock material that Matthew likes to touch and feel as he matches them. To make this activity less stressful for the child, I would suggest placing a stack of matching cards in separate baggies that can be stored inside the box.
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