After using a potato head toy for years in speech-language therapy, one of the first toys I bought for my first child was a potato head toy. There are many ways to use this classic toy.
The best toys for creating a language rich environment are toys like potato head that do not have screens – but have pieces that the child can touch and move and hold. Potato head builds play skills, fine motor skills, and encourages vocabulary, and creativity.
Some goals you can work on with Potato Head:
Early language (just starting to talk):
- Vocabulary Building – Body parts, action words, location words. Take time to watch how your child plays with the toy. What is he doing with it? What parts interest him? Label the things that your child is interested in. For example, if he likes putting the arms into the top of the head, you could say, “You’re putting the arm in the top.” repeat the words that you want him to learn, such as “Arm” or “top”.
Grammar (word order and word endings)
- Listen to what your child says about the toy while she is playing. If she is speaking in 2-3 word phrases, you can repeat what she has said and then add another word or two. For example, if she says, “Shoe on” you could say, “Yeah, put shoe on” or “My red shoe”.
Pronunciation (Speech sounds)
- There are lots of good words that end in “t” and “d” that you can model while playing with the Potato head toy. For example, while your child plays, model the words “red”, “white”, “head”, “out”, “hat”, and “foot”. If your child is able to copy words at the single word level, you can encourage him to copy these words as he plays.
- If you have a list of words from your child’s speech therapist, you can try this game: Give the child an empty potato head. Put all the pieces in a bag, and place the speech cards in front of your child. Explain the game: “We are going to play a game. Every time you say a word, you can have a piece to put in your potato head.” This game works best with children who are at a three year old level or higher.
Here is an article for how to use potato head with a child who has about 50-100 words: http://www.talkingkids.org/2011/10/every-day- language-learning- my-love.html
This article has general ideas for working on language skills with toys, as well as a section on using potato head: https://www.speechbuddy.com/blog/speech-therapy- techniques/top-toys- for-speech- therapy/