I love animal miniatures! I’ve boughten a lot over the decade I’ve been practicing, including the farm Toobs from Safari Ltd, pets Toobs from Safari Ltd, the North American wildlife Toobs from Safari Ltd, the Terra by Battat ocean animals (which used to be available at Target), the Terra by Battat miniature animals (which also used to be available at Target), the Terra by Battat miniature dinosaurs (which, you guessed, it, was available at Target), and even How to Train Your Dragon blind bags (which are, very unfortunately, no longer available). I love these toys because they’re easy to incorporate both into speech & language treatment techniques and into other activities. For example…
- Toy trains (I love the Fisher-Price GeoTrax trains, even though they’re no longer made and so only available on eBay)
- Sensory bin
Ideas for Using Miniatures in Speech & Language Treatment
- Articulation – Hold the box of miniatures and go through it looking for targets that the child is working on. The child has to say a word/sentence with the target to request the miniature. If working at the conversation level, let the child set up the play with the selected miniatures and then start a conversation about the miniatures (“Wow! I can’t believe all the animals living in this town! There aren’t just dogs and cats!”). A great way to get started with this is Speech Tree Co.’s Phoneme boxes.
- Following Directions – Have the child follow directions with the miniatures. For basic directions have the child find a certain miniature in the box (“Can you find a cow?”), for multiple-step directions have the child place the miniatures around the room (“Can you put a cow on the table and a chicken under the table?”), etc.
- Categorizing – Have the child group animals that belong together by color/habitat/classification (mammal/amphibian/bird/etc.). I once had a kid who loved this activity so much he made a global map out of my room with the animals on their own continents.
- Grammar – Get pairs of irregular targets and ask the child, “Do you want 1 deer?” while holding out both deer. This takes a bit of money and preparation. I bought duplicates of some of my sets so I can target deer, moose, calves, fish, wolves, sheep, and mice. You can also act out scenes with the miniatures. For example, pretend a cat miniature eats all of a cake then ask, “What did the cat do with the cake?” to target ate.
- Phonemic Awareness – Go through the box with the child and ask them to find animals that start with a phoneme like /b/. To turn this into a phonics activity you just need letters to add like the Lakeshore Translucent ones I use (look at my alphabet sensory bin as an example).