I'm off today, which meant I couldn't celebrate Valentine's day with my students on the actual day. So instead, I celebrated all week!

A couple of weeks ago I purchased a few packs of Valentine's cards and, amazingly, I remembered to bring them into work. Over the years I've learned not to write on the card until the receptionist calls to let me know the child has arrived for their appointment. This saves wasting cards on no-shows or cancellations (sometimes planning ahead isn't the best idea).

This year I used the "Stamp and Sort Mailbox" I wrote about last April, to do a Valentine's day themed activity. Before I brought the child down to my room I put a card, addressed to the child, in the bottom of the box and locked it. During the therapy session we pretended to mail Valentines (flashcards), specific to their target, to various people in the child's life. It's pretty sweet to hear who the children want to mail things to and why.

I have some small manila envelopes that are the perfect size for (most) flashcards. I have put clear contact paper on the front of the envelopes so that we can write names on them and then I can wipe them off to reuse again later.

 Marbleworks Castle

Marbleworks Castle

 I painted my mailbox red to make it look Canadian

I painted my mailbox red to make it look Canadian

Conveniently the mailbox has three slots. I used this to work on categories with one student by assigning each slot a different category.

Once all the cards were in the mailbox we used the key to open the door and then put the cards in the mail-satchel (a shiny red drawstring bag) so that we could deliver them. Sometimes the child would deliver them to the people in the room (usually Mum and/or Dad). Other times we put some toys around the room (such as a Spiderman figurine, the Dudsberry puppet, or the Marbleworks Castle) and the child delivered the cards to the toys. As we delivered each envelope, we opened them up to see what was inside (this provides another opportunity to practice the targets).

Some children spotted their card as soon as they opened up the mailbox and other children didn't see it until they were delivering the mail. Either way it was really fun to see their reactions when they realized that there was something there that they hadn't mailed and that it was for them!

How did you celebrate Valentine's day this year?

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 Stamp & Sort Mailbox

Stamp & Sort Mailbox

I recently purchased the "Stamp & Sort Mailbox" by Melissa & Doug.  I saw this at a colleagues office.  She highly recommended it and I thought it looked like a fun toy to add to my clinic, so I stopped at the teacher store on the way home and picked it up.  It retails for approximately $30 Canadian and, like all Melissa & Doug products, it is very good quality, constructed out of wood and velcro.  I see on their website that you can have it personalized with your (child's) name, unfortunately I don't see an option that allows you to change the colour to make it red like our mailboxes in Canada.

Skills that can be targeted using this toy are listed below.  Keep in mind that these are just the ideas I have come up with before even trying it - this list will likely expand after I've used it for a while.  If you have any additional suggestions, please add them in the comments below.  

Printer friendly version (to keep with your toy)

Pretend play

  • Pretend to send mail to different people for specific reasons using the mail included with the toy or make up your own.
  • Pretend to be the mail-carrier and deliver the mail.

Language

  • Talk about the different kinds of mail, what is postage/stamps, who delivers the mail, how does mail travel around the world, why might we send something in the mail, the difference between "snail-mail" and e-mail.
  • Vocabulary:  letter, postcard, mail, mailbox, stamp, card, key, open, close, in, out, big/thick, small/thin, on, off, and turn.

Fluency

  • Child can practice utterances of varying length from single word responses to questions (e.g., "what are you mailing?" or "who are you mailing that to?"), to longer, fill-in-the blank sentences (e.g., "Put a stamp on the __" or "This is for __"), to spontaneously generated sentences.

Speech Sounds

  • Practice /st-/ in "stamp"
  • Use cards containing the sound(s) that the child is practicing and have the child mail the pictured items; child can practice at various levels from single words to spontaneous sentences.

Ideas for Adding to this Toy

  • Use paper, crayons/makers, stamps/stickers so the child can make their own mail.
  • Reusable option:  laminate cards and add velcro for stamps (make your own laminated stamps or use those from the toy - just make sure that the velcro matches) so that the child can draw on the cards with a dry-erase maker.

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