For years SLPs have been known for playing games all day. Our students leave the speech room and after working hours or minutes on intense speech and language therapy goals, if someone asks them what they did, they will say we played a game. But now with the change in education due to the pandemic, how are we able to play our favorite games?
Today I want to share how you can use the free website called Toy Theater to bring in games when you otherwise couldn’t. Whether you are teaching virtually and can’t play your favorite games or you are in person and don’t want to be sanitizing every single Jenga block in between sessions; Toy Theater can work for you. All you need is some sort of device and you are good to go! The games on Toy Theater can be used as a reinforcer at the end of a session or throughout a session.Toy Theater has so many awesome games that you can use with your students. Tic Tac Toe, Snakes and Ladders, and Uno have to be three of the favorites that I use all the time! When I have used Toy Theater this year, I have my students just telling me what to do within the game that way I don’t have to worry about them touching the screen or smartboard if we are in person. If we are online, I still have them telling me what to do within the game so that I don’t need to worry about figuring out how to give them permission to manipulate the tools. This has been nice for me because I don’t have to worry about germs and sanitizing all the time. Another nice thing about having the students tell me what to do on the game is that they are practicing so many language skills at the same time they are playing the games!
Using toy theater is a good motivator because my students know that if they take a shot at working on a speech skill, they will get to take a turn on the game. It makes it much more fun to incorporate a game, than just sitting there answering questions or drilling. I always try to make my sessions fun, interactive, and engaging and one of the ways I do that is by rewarding my students with fun games like those found on Toy Theater!
Another cool feature of this website is the section with teacher tools! There is a spinner, dice, stopwatch, calculator, hundreds chart, coin flip, and so many more tools at the ready! I love using the high number dice when I am working with articulation students because then I can have them doing a high number of trials like 18 or 20 instead of 1 or 2 with traditional dice. I also like using the hundreds chart for Race to 100 games where we try to get 100 articulation trials in a session. I like to split my screen with two different Toy Theater websites pulled up so that I can have the dice on one half of the screen and the hundreds chart on the other half. We roll the dice to see how many articulation trials they have to do and then cross them off on the hundreds chart as we do them. You can use this for an individual student or have a group of students work together to get to 100.
The sky is really the limit with Toy Theater. Anything that you may have done in person, you can probably do in a similar way with the help of this website. We have enough things to do as SLP’s without sanitizing a ton of game pieces in-between sessions. We also don’t have the luxury of telling our students “hey, you’re going to fail if you don’t do the work” so we have to make it fun and reward them in some way so that they are motivated to work hard and try their best.
We are all in this together. This year has brought new territory for all of us and we can learn so much from each other. Learning from each other and helping each other is what our speech community is all about. If you need help with something, have a great idea, or just want to connect with other SLP’s, come post in our Dabbling with Speech Time Fun FB Group. We would love to hear from you!
Want to learn more? Check out the video and the resources I mentioned for engaging, no-prep, and low-prep activities to use with your students this week!