Spielgaben for Speech Therapy

Hello friends! Yesterday I shared 20+ ways that we have been using our Spielgaben set for hands-on learning at home with my three-year-old twins. Today I’d like to address the speech-language pathologists in the crowd with a post on using Spielgaben manipulatives in the therapy setting.  Although my family was provided with a complimentary set of materials for my original review, all opinions are 100% my own, and my SLP brain is going wild with all the possibilities. If you missed my original review, you can catch up on the basics of Spielgaben and our experience here, but be sure to come back and see how you can win a complete set of Spielgaben educational toys (ARV $400) for your school or therapy setting! 

Spielgaben as a Speech Therapy Tool

Using Spielgaben as a speech therapy tool

Versatile

Even though I am taking a break from therapy while my kids are young, all of my years of training and practice have my brain hard-wired to evaluate toys and manipulatives from a therapeutic perspective.  When I was working in the public schools, I managed large caseloads that included students with a wide range of ages and communication disorders. Even though each child had different targeted goals, I quickly learned  that I didn’t have time to think of separate activities for each student/group every day. Instead, I learned how to pick one or two activities and use them creatively all day to address a diverse list of communication goals.  As a speech-language pathologist, I appreciate toys that are versatile, open-ended, and can be used for a variety of targets. I could easily do an entire day’s worth of therapy with just one tray of Spielgaben toys and the Play Guides that accompany them!

Spielgaben manipulatives

High Quality

Another big selling point for a therapy toy is quality. Materials that are well-made and will stand up to heavy use over time are well worth the initial investment in my book!  Part of Spielgaben’s appeal is the amazing craftsmanship of the pieces- not only will they last for years, but they are beautiful and engaging. The sets contain a very generous amount of pieces, which are kept nicely contained and organized in a set of three segmented stacking trays that store the materials beautifully and compactly when not in use- perfect for keeping your therapy room organized and clutter-free.

Speech Therapy Ideas

The Spielgaben manipulatives along with the accompanying resources are absolutely brimming with possibilities for therapy activities.  Let me take you through some of the materials and show you how they could be used for speech and language activities so you can see for yourself!

Knitted Balls

While the majority of the Spielgaben set is comprised of small wooden manipulatives, there is also a set of brightly colored knitted balls that are very appealing in their simplicity.  When presented with the array of choices, my children always go straight for these textured balls!

Spielgaben knitted balls

Balls have always been a staple of basic therapy materials- there are so many ways you can use them to address communication goals with even the youngest clients (there are some excellent ideas for using balls in therapy in this post by Playing With Words 365). If you are stuck for ideas, there are lots of great ones in the Play Guides for simple games. Some of the balls have long knitted loops attached to them, which gives you the added option of hanging them or making shapes with them based on the inspiration cards. Plus, the softness and larger size of the balls makes them one of the only Spielgaben materials that can be used by babies/children who are still mouthing, since the small wooden pieces do present a choking hazard.

Wooden Manipulatives

Spielgaben set

At the heart of the Spielgaben set is a variety of open-ended wooden toys including large and small geometric shapes, lacing beads, rings, sticks of various sizes, and small dots or “points.”  I can think of literally hundreds of activities to do with these materials to address a myriad of targets (you can see over 20 simple activities here for inspiration). However, the resources that are included with the Spielgaben set are a valuable therapy tool themselves- if you don’t have the time to brainstorm new activities or gather additional materials, print out some of the pages, laminate them, and you’ll have a set of cards to grab and go!

Resources

Here are some examples of the different types of printable resource pages that are included with the set.

Spielgaben Learning Resources 1.”complete the picture” activity, 2. inspiration card for patterning and construction, 3. printable storytelling placemat.

Included in the worksheets are a variety of “complete the picture” activities with different levels of difficulty using the various wooden shapes and knitted balls. These could be used for anything from a simple reinforcer activity during articulation practice to creating a barrier game for language targets.

The inspiration cards are large photos of different structures built with the plain wooden blocks and also patterns and scenes such as the one shown above created with the small geometric shapes.  Construction and patterning activities such as these are excellent for a variety of different targets such as problem solving, sequencing and storytelling (retelling the steps to complete the activity), giving and following directions, and vocabulary building. Giving one of the more difficult cards to a social skills group and asking them to build it cooperatively would be an awesome chance to work on important pragmatic skills such as turn-taking, problem solving, perspective-taking, conversation skills, etc.

The storytelling placemats would be awesome for working on tons of targets in connected speech including articulation, voice, and fluency.  Just like the complete the picture activities, these could also be used for barrier games for expressive and receptive language practice, along with all of the other obvious benefits of storytelling/sequencing activities for language.

Visualization

During therapy sessions, I found myself frequently using a set of small wooden cubes of various colors to help add a visual component to auditory discrimination tasks. This method worked wonders with children who were in the beginning stages of articulation therapy, children who were working on phonemic awareness skills, and students with hearing impairments who were working on auditory discrimination and articulation.  Spielgaben manipulatives would be very useful in this regard as well.

bluebears

I’m so happy that you took the time to read about this potentially awesome therapy tool.  I wholeheartedly recommend this for therapy settings looking to invest in quality toys and manipulatives. The set is a significant investment, but after fully exploring the quality of the materials and extensive resources that accompany them, I believe the price of the set is well-warranted.  For ordering information, please visit the Spielgaben website.

Spielgaben Giveaway!

Guess what?? Thanks to the incredible generosity of Spielgaben, one lucky winner from the U.S. or UK will win a complete set of Spielgaben educational toys which has an approximate retail value of $400! The contest is open until midnight on Friday, April 18, 2014. Click on the photo below to jump to the giveaway post and enter. And good luck!

Spielgaben Giveaway

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Comments

  1. Emily Callahan says:

    We are excited for the opportunity to play with this toy!

  2. Where can I buy this in South Africa? this looks like something I need for my children.

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