I love using teddy bears in my Speech Therapy sessions. I often find them to be really motivating for little ones! When I was a toddler I had a teddy bear that came everywhere with me. I carried it under my arm, so all the stuffing moved to its head and legs, with nothing in between. It lost an eye and was the grubbiest thing you’ve ever seen… But I adored it, and I loved it whenever I had the opportunity to take it somewhere new. I’m pretty sure most young children have a favourite soft toy/teddy bear too. And I’ve found over the years that it can be extremely motivating to use that special toy in your Early Intervention sessions. Involving their special friend makes the activities more engaging and meaningful for the child, and shows parents/caregivers how they can target the same skills after the session too.
I love using teddy bears in my Early Intervention sessions so much, that I’ve put together this list of 5 different goals you can target while using a teddy bear in your Speech Therapy sessions.
Target early verbs with a teddy bear during play
Teddy bears are great to incorporate in play when focusing on verbs. You can use the bear to show a range of verbs, and can encourage the child to do it too. So you can work on both understanding and use of verbs during the same activity!
Gather together a range of familiar self-care items, for example, washcloth, toothbrush, brush, tissue, sponge, small pillow and blanket, potty, etc. Model familiar routines during play. E.g., pretend to brush the teddy bear’s teeth. Be sure to model and repeat the verbs during play, so the child has multiple opportunities to hear the word. For example, “brush, brush, brush his teeth”. If you don’t have props, you can make the teddy bear walk, run, sleep, etc.
If you need more ideas for targeting verbs in your Speech therapy sessions, the Verb themed Early Language Unit has a range of engaging activities for targeting early verbs.
Learn body parts with a teddy bear through doctor pretend play
Pretend that the teddy bear has hurt different body parts. Encourage the child to be the doctor and make the teddy bear better. Model and repeat the names of the body parts and relate this to the child’s body too. Encourage them to put bandaids on the teddy bear to make them better, which gives you more opportunities to model the target words!
Use a teddy bear to target prepositions
This activity is fun as it gets little ones up and moving! “Hide” the teddy bear in different places around the room. Encourage the child to find the teddy bear. Comment on where the bear is; model and repeat the target prepositions. Here are some ideas- hide the bear under the chair, in a box, on the shelf, under the table, etc.
Develop two-(or more)-word phrases with a teddy bear
Model different actions with the teddy bear, and comment on this, using two-three key word phrases, e.g., “teddy is walking“. After modelling this a few times, encourage the child to have a turn, making the teddy bear do an action and saying a short phrase.
Feed a teddy bear and encourage symbolic sounds
Grab some play food and your teddy bear. Offer the child a choice of food or drinks to give the teddy bear then take turns feeding them. Model and encourage the use of symbolic sounds and exclamatory words by using eating and drinking noises while playing. Be silly and show how the teddy bear likes or dislikes the food (lots of “mmm” or “bleugh” sounds). Provide plenty of opportunities for the child to copy these and use their own during play too. Check out this resource for more ideas of how to encourage symbolic sounds during play.
I hope you’ve found this list helpful! Do you have any other ideas for how you can use a teddy bear in your Speech Therapy sessions? Drop a comment below!
Check out my other posts if you want more ideas for how you can encourage early language development in your Early Intervention sessions.