Mr Potato Head
This is the toy potato that comes with a suitcase of body parts and accessories ie. ears, nose, mouth, moustache, glasses, hat. Children (and adults!) love to build their Mr.Potato Heads and, as they are building, they can be developing lots of their speech and language skills:
Attention and Listening:
Sometimes children struggle to remain focused on an activity for any amount of time. Mr.Potato Head can be used to slowly increase the length of time that they attend. If an adult keeps hold of the suitcase of parts, they can control how long it takes the child to build their Mr. Potato Head. Each time the game is played, the adult can gradually build up the amount of time the child is taking to complete the task. The child will be enjoying the activity so will not realise their attention is being developed and before they know it, they have been focused on the game for 15 minutes!
Body Part Words
Body parts are one of the earliest categories of words that children develop understanding of. By labelling the items and talking about what your child is doing as they build Mr.Potato Head, they will start to develop knowledge and understanding of the words e.g. “Pushing the eyes in. Oh a big nose. Oops the glasses fell off!”
You can then lay out a selection of body parts and ask your child for one to see if they can understand the body part vocabulary e.g. “Give me the mouth.’
As well as understanding individual words, children need to be able to understand the words within sentences. Mr.Potato Head provides lots of fun instructions to do this e.g. “put the nose on the mouth” “put the legs on the head”. Your child really has to understand what is said to them as the instructions are not always standard/expected.
Once a child understands the body part words, they then need to be able to use the words in their talking; putting the words in the right order and moving their mouth into the right positions to articulate the words. If the adult keeps hold of the suitcase, the child can practice asking for the different items “Give me the nose” “I need the mouth”
Mr.Potato Head is a fabulous reward game to keep a child motivated to practice the different target sounds they are working on. Every time the child has a go at saying their target sound/word, they get a piece of Mr.Potato Head. With at least 15 different accessories, the child is guaranteed at to make the sound 15 times and, because they are having fun, they probably will not realise they are practising their speech.
Lots of children find it difficult to wait their turn. Playing Mr.Potato Head with a friend, gives the child lots of opportunities to practice waiting to have their turn. As they are excited to build their Mr. Potato Head, not only are they motivated to wait their turn but they also want to carry on playing the game until it is completed.
If you use a Mr.Potato Head and a Mrs.Potato Head, there are lots of chances to reinforce to your child the possesive pronouns ‘his’ and ‘hers’ and your child has lots of reasons to use these pronouns correctly e.g. “Give Mr.Potato Head his eyes.”
Overall, Mr.Potato Head is a fun, easy-to-use resource that can be used with a variety of age groups. It has lots of speech and language development uses and, at the end of the day, who does not like building a potato with eyes in his head, a nose coming out of his mouth and a hat where his ears would be!