Mr. Potato Head as a Learning Tool

How to use Mr. Potato Head as a learning tool

The all time favorite Mr. Potato Head is just NOT a toy but can be used as a learning tool on many different levels!! 

SPEECH:

This is one of my favorite toys to use in producing speech and language! You can use this to teach so much: colors, simple phrases, body parts, asking questions and more! 

How can I use this in therapy? 

1. Making request 
                a. Place the body parts in a plastic bad or clean jar with the lid on and/or the bag 
                    zipped and have students request to open the bag or ask for help. 
2. Use to identify body parts:
                a. If you have a student who isn't fully verbal yet you can also place a few body parts 
                    on the table and ask the child to find the eyes, nose, etc.
                b. Ask the student what is this? and have them name the body part
3.  Requesting items:
                a. Ask students what do you want? And they can answer you verbally or by using pictures
                b. Have students use simple phrases such as "I want eyes" with or without visual cues 
                    to request items to create their potato head (I generally give each student a PECS  
                    board and we have enough Potato Heads for everyone and each student 
                    takes there turn requesting items using their PECS boards)
4. Expanding sentences 
                a. Students can expand the simple "I want" sentence to include colors of the item 
                    and/or use the phrases big/little (I suggest getting 3-4 Potato Heads and this 
                   gives you a great variety of eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hats, etc. Students can then not 
                   only request the item but can expand the sentence to say "I want blue eyes" or "I 
                  want the big hat")
5. Asking/answering questions
                a. Once all the students Potato Heads are created ask questions such as "Who has the 
                    red hat?" "Who has the purse?" and the students will answer "I do"
                b. Teach students to be the teacher and ask the students the questions! A great social
                    skills lesson as asking questions is difficult for students to learn! 
 

BEHAVIOR

 

You can use Mr. Potato Head as a class wide behavior management tool. When I thought of this idea the best part about it as it is visual and students can see the end goal in sight! 

Throughout the day or week as the class behaviors appropriately add another piece to the Potato Head.  You can even display the pieces that are not on the Potato Head yet to encourage them to keep working hard! Once they have completed the Potato Head the class earns some sort of reward (extra reading time, extra recess, free play, etc).


I hope if you don't already have a Mr. Potato Head in your classroom I hope that you go out and pick one up! I know I will be on the look out for extra parts at garage sales this summer! I checked out E-bay and you can get a TON of parts for a great price!!
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14 Days of Love: Celebrating Valentine's Day


I know Valentine's Day is a Hallmark holiday but I love a good reason to celebrate and spread my love to my family!! This year while strolling through the Target Dollar Spot I found these awesome large envelopes for a dollar!  


I bought one just because they were so darn cute but now comes the fun of finding something to do with it!  I am not in the classroom anymore, but if I was I would have picked up enough for my class and put their names on the envelope and we would have used those as their Valentine Holders!
I decided to make this into a mailbox for my daughter and put something inside the envelope every morning for 14 days.   I started out by securing it onto the back of her chair but then decided to put it on the wall at her level so she could check it independently.


I love a good reason to buy presents but I also know that I don't want to spoil my daughter and give her the impression that she will always gets gifts so I did buy a few items from the Dollar Tree, Target Dollar Spot, Michaels Crafts store and then found some things around the house as well!


1. Where's Is Baby's Valentine Book My daughter loves flip books, and Karen Katz books are her favorites! I couldn't pass this one up! If you are anything like me your child has TOO many books so I could easily find one we haven't read lately and put it in her envelope and she will love it just as much!

2. Valentines: Our job for the day will be to decorate Valentine's and/or sign Valentines for her friends at Day Care.  She loves Mickey Mouse so I picked those out earlier at the Dollar Tree.

3. Play and Pack Grab and Go from Michael's Craft Store.  These come in all cute themes: Disney, super hero, etc.  Inside you get a small coloring book, crayons and stickers for the low price of $1!! 

4. Kinetic Sand: While at Michael's Craft store I spotted Kinetic Sand for 70% off!! I got one pound for less than $5! I also found this awesome scrapbook paper storage container for $3.99. It was perfect and I can easily store it in the closet! I had already purchased some silver sand and the purple I bought will go nicely with the silver!


5. Pom Pom's- Yes it sounds weird but I am going to use contact paper and draw different size hearts onto itt and have my daughter put pom pom's in the hearts.  We will also be working on the concept of big and little as I will be drawing different size hearts. You can find an example of using contact paper and pom poms on my blog here, I used a tree here but it will give you an idea!

6. Pictures: I'm going to print off some pictures of our family and put them into an album for my daughter to read. Right now Shutterfly is offering FREE, unlimited prints! So check them out!

7. Notes:  As a 2 1/2 year old I only plan on putting one of these in her envelope but I love the idea of putting notes in her envelope regularly throughout the 14 days as she gets older! I would write words of encouragement and reasons I love her on them.

8.  Paints- I purchased some CHEAP water color paints at the beginning of the school year

9. Mystery Paper: Take a blank piece of paper, a white crayon and draw a picture or a message on it. While using water color paints the picture and/or message will appear!

10.  Play Dough: I will make some play dough after my daughter goes to bed and surprise her with it in the morning. You could easily pick some up at the Dollar Tree but I love knowing what I put into my foods and play dough so I like to make it myself!

11. Balloon: My daughter loves balloons so after I put her to bed I will run out to the Dollar Tree to get her a balloon! My goal is not to spend more than $10 total on all of these items!

12. Frosting/or a coupon for a baking day: We will be doing some baking today!  We will be making some cup cakes for daddy and Alli! 

13. Coupons: You can make coupons for anything! I plan on making her a coupon for bowling with mommy and daddy! She hasn't done this yet and I think it will be fun! You could make coupons for: dinner alone with daddy or mommy, pick the restaurant, pick the movie, pick a game for family game night, ice cream after dinner, etc!

14.  Valentine Day Candy- My dad used to always buy my brother and I special candy from Fanny May for Valentine's day and I want to carry on that fun tradition. I have never been in their store so I might want to check it out soon!


These are just some of the ideas I plan on doing with my daughter but there are SO many more ideas! I can't wait till February! 



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Tot School: Snowman Week

This week was my first week of Tot School. I had high hopes to take pictures of all the things we were doing but of course, having a two year old who has her own agenda, this didn't happen! I did take as many pictures as I could or took final picture products for you! I hope by reading through this and seeing some pictures I spark an idea or two that you can use at home or at school with your little ones! 


I have now made it part of my Sunday that during nap time I will plan out our activities for the coming week! In my first blog post about Tot School I stated that I am a part time stay at home mom so I am only doing Tot School on Thursdays and Fridays to start with.  You can download a free copy of my template here.  

The first thing I did when sitting down to plan was think of a theme. That was the easy part as winter has just arrived for us with some snow, finally! So I searched Pinterest as well as looked at what I already have in my home! I was an Early Childhood Special Education teacher for 10 years, so I have a lot of stuff!  I think it is key to remember you don't need to spend a lot of money on teaching materials. You have a lot of materials already around your house and if you find some fun projects or activities see how much money that would cost you! My goal is to purchase almost everything I need from the Dollar Tree or somewhere where the cost can be low. 

Here are my plans for my first week of Tot School!



You can see I added what I need to purchase, to make these activities work, while I was writing out my lesson plans. 

The one thing I have learned this week is have everything ready to go BEFORE you sit down to work with your child! I needed to go get a few things and if I got up from our learning space she was DONE! So now I know! 

One of my favorite activities to do during the winter is to build a snowman indoors!

You will need felt, glue, pencils or markers (to draw out your shapes), and scissors. I first cut out circles for the snowman and hot glued those onto my blue felt. I traced bowls of different sizes to get a decent circle shape.  I hung my snowman on my door using the 3M Command Damage Free Strips. Next I cut out pieces for the snowman which I then glued the hook side of velcro (rough side) to the back of each pieces to help it adhere to my snowman.  I am not an artist of any kind so I googled pictures, printed them off , drew them on my felt and cut them out! I made pieces for a hat, bow tie, buttons, arms, nose, mouth, and I used googly eyes for the eyes but you could make those out of felt as well.  I made different colored buttons, hats and bow ties to encourage requesting different colors and/or learning colors. 

This activity was a big hit! I did try showing her where the body parts were suppose to be located and as you can see the nose had other ideas of where it should go! Remember Tot School is suppose to be FUN so don't stress if your lesson or activity is not perfect!  

BOOKS


Here are some books I already had around my house from teaching and/or books I have bought for my daughter.  I really like the It is Snowing What Do I need to Wear interactive book 
which I downloaded for free from Practically Speeching.  This book is great because it's a fun and easy read and teaches and talks about what you wear on certain parts of your body; such as what do you wear on your feet?  You can give your child two choices or if they are still really young just ask the questions and give them the picture to put on the page.  

ART

As a teacher one of my favorite art projects in school was having my kids make a 3D Snowman.  No two were ever the same and no matter what I could always make it resemble a snowman! 

To make the snowman you will use the same amount of glue and shaving cream and then mix it up. The glue will allow it to stay on the paper and help all your other things stick to your snowman.  I used googly eyes for the eyes, star buttons as buttons, pipe cleaners as arms, felt for a hat and ribbon for a scarf. I always pick up buttons in the $1 sections of Michael's Craft Store and JoAnn Fabrics because you can never have too many buttons! 
I suggest giving your child a brush as this is a sticky project. But if they'd rather get the whole sensory experience, the mixture washes off with warm water easily!   I was looking for a piece of art to add to our mantle so the night before I painted a canvas blue and we made our snowman on the canvas. At school we would use regular blue or colored paper, so the snowman stood out, and they always turned out awesome! 

We also did Circle Painting, which was done by putting paint on a paper plate and using a toilet paper roll to dot circles on a white piece of paper.  While doing this we talked about the shape and colors we used as well as counting how many circles were made, which can be tricky when they make SO many circles! 

We also made a snowman out of packing peanuts. I made this outline on my computer and then we glued packing peanuts on it!  I already had packing peanuts that came in a Christmas present, but you could also use cotton balls! 

SENSORY PLAY

My daughter loves sensory play and so we made Silky Stretch Play Dough. I found the recipe on Pinterest and it is great because it is just TWO ingredients!  You need conditioner and corn starch.  I went to the Dollar Tree to buy my conditioner and it worked great! You mix 1 cup of conditioner and 2 cups of Cornstarch, mix together and play!  Make sure to buy a conditioner that you like the smell of because the smell can be strong when you open the bag to play with it.   I love this play dough as it does not leave your hands salty and it is very smooth! You can check out the original post of where I got the recipe and idea here.

FINE MOTOR

My daughter avoids fine motor tasks like the plague! So whenever we need to work on fine motor skills I always try to make it fun!  I do think it's important to practice straight lines, as this will help with writing and forming letters down the road so I did make her practice straight lines a few times! Not her favorite thing! :) Try using paint, markers, crayons, high lighters or your finger in sand to mix up things to keep them having fun while drawing shapes, lines and/or letters.  

For Christmas we purchased my daughter this Melissa and Doug Bead Sequencing Kit.  At this point in time we are just focusing on having her put the beads onto the pegs but in time we will work on the sequencing and following directions! I love how this can grow with kids!  If you do work tasks with your kiddos at school this would be awesome for that!!

SPEECH: Teaching H Sounds to Toddlers

This week my daughter was focusing on H words.  We have been working with a speech therapist and these are words that we are targeting as well as some she can say easily! I created this interactive book for her to use while we work on the sounds. This is just a great way to have her interacting and playing while working on speech!  Right now I have uploaded it to my TPT store for FREE as I want to upload a few more things but haven't had the time yet!  Download now if you want to get this free and everything else that i upload will be included in your free download, you will just need to re-download once it's been updated! 

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD or click on the picture below!  
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Interactive-H-Sound-Book-FREE-FOR-LIMITED-TIME-ONLY-2310705

ONE WEEK DOWN....LOTS MORE TO GO!

These are just a few of the highlights from my week! If you see something in the lesson plans that I didn't explain enough please comment and I will make sure to reply to you!!  I am thinking next week we will focus on snow! I hope we have some outside that we can bring in to play with! 
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