Since boys and girls truly enjoy playing with my dollhouse, I will share some speech therapy activities you can do using this toy! While playing with a dollhouse, you can target the following language goals:
Identify/use spatial concepts: The dollhouse is perfect to work on spatial concepts such as behind, in front, under, on top, between, next to, in, out. To work on identification, we can ask the child to set up the house by giving him/her directions such as: "put the dresser next to the bed," "put the girl on a chair," "put the mommy behind a chair," "put the doggy in front of the TV," "put the stove between the fridge and the sink" and so on... If needed, we can help them by pointing to where the item should go.
To work on labeling, after we set up the house, we can have the child tell us where did he/she place certain items by asking something like "where is the mommy?" or "where did you put the doggy?" If extra help is needed, you can give the child two options by asking something such as "is the mommy behind the chair or in front of the chair?" and then wait for the child to respond.
Click here for 5 fun spatial awareness worksheets.
Categorization: Through categorization, we teach children a system for learning, problem solving, organizing, and remembering/integrating new information. With a dollhouse, we can work on categorization skills by sorting things around the house. First, present all the rooms in the house (by labeling and pointing to them), then label the items as you take them out, and finally, ask the child to tell you where you should place specific items. For example: "Look. Here is the bathroom (point), here is the kitchen (point), here is the bedroom (point), and here is the living room (point). I have a bed. Where should we put the bed?" Depending on the abilities of the child, you can let him point to the correct room, or you can request a verbal response. If your are working on verbal responses, and the child needs some support, you can follow the previous statement saying something like "in the kitchen or in the bedroom?" and then wait for the child to respond.
Another way to work on categorization, would be to ask the child to label things we can find in the different rooms around the house. After you present all the rooms, and before you take the items out, you can tell the child something like "tell me 3 things that you find in the bathroom." As the child tells you the items, you take them out and let the child place them in the dollhouse.
Here is a PDF file to work on categorization around the house.
I also found this website that has tons of FREE worksheets to work on categorization as well.
Furthermore, with this Learning with Yaya video and song, children can practice categorization of animals, clothing and body parts, by sorting, labeling, and identifying objects that do not belong.
Identify/use pronouns he and she: Children should be able to use pronouns he/she when they are approximately 2.5-3 years old. To work on identification, first we present the characters, just like we did with Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. We say something like, "Here I have a boy, and here I have a girl!" Then, depending on how much prompting the child needs, you can say something like "Remember! For boys we say HE! For girls we say SHE!" Then, we ask the child to make the boy and girl do specific actions. For example: "She is going to sit on the chair," "He is going to take a bath."
To work on use of pronouns, we can ask the child to tell us what the boy and the girl are doing as we play. Since children often tend to respond without using the pronouns, I always use the visual below to remind them to use "he" or "she" in their response (i.e. "She is sitting" or "He is taking a bath"). Another trick, is to use the target pronoun in the question (i.e. "what is he doing?" instead of "what is the boy doing?")
If you liked what you read, join us in our Facebook group: Resources for bilingual children with speech delays, where we will be sharing activities and materials to promote speech and language development.
Yael Herszkopf Mayer MS, CCC-SLP is a pediatric, bilingual (English/Spanish) Speech and Language Pathologist and the creator of Learning with Yaya. She received her Masters of Science degree in Speech and Language Pathology- Bilingual Extension from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Clinical Psychology from Universidad de Iberoamérica in Costa Rica.