As a parent, you have plenty choices of toys for your child. But for enhancing language development, I am partial to the low tech, no batteries, easy to store kind of toys.
Mr. Potato Head has my heart.
He is one of the first toys that I introduce to any client under age 3. The opportunities for creative play and vocabulary building are unmatched to any other low-tech toy. Language is largely focused on body parts, but can carry-over into early imaginative play (just think of Mr. Potato Head in attendance at the next tea party).
As always during play, you will be providing your child with the ideal language model and using the five best methods of word learning. Here is how to use Mr. P to his fullest potential:
Body Part Identification: Place two objects in front of your child, and have him/her identify, e.g. Show me nose. As they get older, try it in a field of three or four items.
Following Directions: Try more directed play, and give your child one- and two-step directions, e.g. First put on his eyes, then put on his nose.
Making Requests: Always give choices, ask your child Do you want eyes or nose, and remember to elicit eye contact during communication. Model a verb+noun phrase for your child to request, e.g. Give-me nose.
Naming Body Parts: As your child becomes more familiar with Mr. P, and since you’ll be using plenty of repetition during previous play, chances are these words are budding on their expressive vocabulary. Cue your child to name each part with some clues, e.g. What goes in the middle? What does he need to smell (sniff sniff).
Expanding Phrases/Sentences: Combine these new nouns (eyes, nose, mouth, hands, shoes, hat, glasses) with verbs and concepts to best demonstrate how words are put together in language. For example:
- Placing parts on/off - open bottom, push eyes, push mouth, pull nose, pull hand, hat on, shoes on
- Parts by function - See eyes, smell nose, eat mouth, shake hands
- Mr. Potato in play - Mr. P is just as good as any other doll for imaginative play and language building. Have him drive a toy car, prepare a snack in the kitchen, or as a guest at your tea party.
Eager to have him in your toy chest? Buy the original Mr. Potato Head on Amazon now!