My hospital sends out e-mails to help new moms navigate the world of motherhood with topics that include: feeding, bathing, sleeping, toys, development, etc.  This is what they had to say about blocks: A set of wooden blocks may be the best toy to add to your baby’s collection now, and for many years to come. A simple set of solid, sanded blocks helps develop hand-eye coordination and spatial ability and, as children grow, enrich creative play. The 12-month-old baby is coming to or at the age when she can stack one block on top of another, making a small tower. The thrill of this feat is exceeded only by the joy of knocking it over. You can show your toddler how to stack a couple of blocks, and then watch her experiment until she is stacking three or more on her own. I was so excited to hear this because blocks can be a GREAT tool for speech therapy (and now I know the other added benefits).

Today I'm going to have two more activities to do with blocks.  I keep thinking of more and more activities... so we may need to have a second "block week" at some point.

Activity #1 - for pre-talkers
Kids who aren't talking (but developmentally should be talking), may need a little encouragement.  One way is to put some blocks in a box with a lid.  Clear other toys out of sight so that this is the most exciting thing.  You can shake the box and really get the kids excited to see what is inside!  First, start off with encouraging the child to say "open" in order for you to open the box and get out one block.  If "open" is too much for the child, then really encourage the "oooo" and you finish out the word for them.  Once they see the relationship between saying open and getting a block, the child will be internally motivated.  Once he/she has mastered "open", you can start to expand the utterance:  open please, open box, open the box, want block, I want block, I want a block, I want a block please, etc.  The more talking, the more blocks, the more fun!

Activity #2 - for articulation
When you are working with younger children on articulation, sometimes they just don't want to practice words and take a turn of a game.  Sometimes they need a little movement.  Getting out some wooden blocks with letters on them can be a fun way to shake things up.  Pull out the blocks and set the ground rules that when we come across a block with a picture or a letter that we have worked on in the past or are working on now, then we have to stop and do some work.  You can have the child say a few words, practice a word within a sentence, etc.  The greatest part is that you can be watching the blocks and pick out all the 's' blocks (for example) and pull them to the forefront as often as you need!  

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