By: Jenna Steinbach
As a Speech-Language Pathologist, I love Mr. Potato Head for many reasons! It can be used to target body parts of course, but it can also be used to work on a variety of other language skills. Take a look below at some unique ways to facilitate language using this versatile toy.
Labeling body parts: Model (say) the name of the different body parts as you play with them. It seems simple, but is often times forgotten. Say “eye” as you pick up an eye, and “teeth” as your child puts the teeth on. Do this many times and soon your child will start doing the same.
Identifying body parts: Hold up two items and tell your child, “Take the ear, take teeth, “ etc. This will work on their understanding of vocabulary.
Matching: Hold one body part up and ask you child to find the one that matches. Start by placing only two body parts in front of your child (one that matches, one that doesn’t), and build from there.
Choice making: Hold up two body parts and label them. When your child points to or reaches towards one of them, label it again and given them the piece.
Requesting more: Because there are many pieces involved in Mr. Potato Head, this is a great toy to work on requesting. Give your child one piece at a time. They then have to use words, signs, or gestures to request more pieces.
Requesting assistance: Children do not always have the fine motor skills required to push the body parts in to Mr. Potato Head. This lends itself nicely to work on asking for help. Let your child struggle for a bit, and if they don’t ask for help spontaneously, prompt them by asking, “Do you need help?” You can then model the sign for help, or again verbally model “help” and request them to imitate.
Concepts: The concepts on and off are early developing concepts that can easily be targeted as you put the pieces on, or take them off Mr. Potato Head.
Target verbs: After you have built your Potato Heads, you can make them walk, jump, dance, sleep, etc.
Pretend play: After your Potato Heads are built, you can also work on your child’s pretend play skills by having them go to the store, visit the zoo, or go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Have fun with the things you make up and your child will too!