Meet my favourite monster. He is (rather unimaginatively) named Mr Monster or Mr Yum Yum (suggestions for a better name are welcome). I first met him at the now defunct Early Learning Centre shop* and it was love at first sight. I knew we had a great future together, and he hasn’t let me down. Mr Monster/Yum Yum has a handle at the back which allows kids to open and close his mouth. When he chews, he makes a rather cavernous noise, followed by a burp… what can I say? He is a winner.
He serves many functions and can be part of a huge range of speech and language activities. He can be fed anything in simple naming activities: fruits, animals, toys, play dough, cars, flashcards, sensible things, silly things. When feeding him, children can practice speech sounds, grammar structures, asking questions, vocabulary, conversation skills. He can be involved in pretend play as a friendly/not so friendly monster (in my last blog, he was a space monster). His big mouth allows him to rescue animals instead of eating them (although, contrary to my adult perception, kids seem quite taken with the gory side of his personality). He can be used to practice auditory memory by repeating obscure passwords or silly sentences. He can make the kids count syllables and be involved in a range of phonological awareness activities. He can guard a river that kids have to cross by asking his permission and performing speech and language tasks as directed by the session’s objectives. He has even been known to be the subject of oral narratives and creative writing pieces on various topics ranging from “My favourite dish” to “If you come to my lair, you will see…” There is nothing he cannot do and, as such, fills an important criterion in toy selection: choose something that leads to more than one use (something to think about in the lead-up to Christmas). In my next blog, I will make suggestions for Christmas toys, so keep an eye out for it.
If you can’t buy him, do not despair. Before owning him, I had a rather simpler cardboard version with a gaping hole for the mouth. I once even perfected a model featuring a cardboard flap with strings which allowed the children to open and close his mouth, very much like a drawbridge on a medieval castle.
Large and medium paper bags can be used for the same purpose. Click here to see a resource by American SLP and indefatigable blogger Jenna Rayburn on the TeachersPayTeachers website, a treasure trove of resources made by teachers and clinicians with great imagination and talent. And if all else fails, a simple puppet with a mouth that can open and close will do the trick. Have fun!
*The ELC shops are no longer open in Australia, however, there is still a UK based website. I was sad to see the shops close here, as they had a lot of excellent toys.
Looking for language tips, activities and ideas? This blog is for parents, speech pathologists, teachers, educators and anyone with an interest in speech and language.