Here’s the thing: Kids don’t need fancy games. They don’t need the latest plastic creation that pops up or shoots things out. No, they don’t need any of that.
I’m here to tell you that kids will work for pom poms. They will work for counters and tiny balls of play dough. They will work for a piece of thread and a hole punch. Heck, they would probably work for peanuts if we were allowed to bring them to school!
I’ve recently started to collect ‘little things’ with a strange kind of fervor because I’ve seen how motivated my students can be when they get a physical thing for doing or saying something. It’s that simple kind of reinforcer that DOESN’T involve a 5 minute setup and then tears at the end when the kid loses the game.
The idea of using Little Things (as I’ll officially name them) is the following:
- You can get multiple repetitions or attempts if you have a larger quantity of said Little Things
- Kids learn how to ‘earn’ extra Little Things and that motivation and mindset is priceless (e.g. if you fix your sound all by yourself, I’ll give you another pom pom)
- It’s immediate reinforcement which some of our student’s need to keep their attention and motivation ready for learning
- The hands-on aspect can be really great for fidgety hands, sensory preferences and combining fine motor goals
- They can be adapted for any goal that you are working on, making them flexible for every student on your caseload and easy to implement in groups
Now you can get all creative with HOW to implement these, but I usually keep it simple and use it as a generic reinforcer. Monday morning, I might pull put my mini erasers, and I’ll use them for every kid, regardless of the goal. Tuesday is tweezers day, Wednesday my beads will be all the rage. You get the idea, right? I will add that I LOVE using Little Things to get high repetitions, which makes it perfect for all your speech kids. Your preschoolers are also very motivated by these! Ok, so now that I’ve got you thinking that you need to start collecting Little Things, I’m going to make a list of my collection so far – but you’ll always find me at the Dollar Store adding to this list.
I’m currently loving:
- Pom poms, play dough, blocks, Lego pieces, lids, manipulatives
- Stamp pads with stampers, stamper markers, sequins, laminated stickers
- Buttons, beads, marbles, stones, shells, aquarium gems
- Clothespins/pegs, threading thread, foam shapes, matchsticks, craft sticks
- Mini dollar store figurines (e.g. insects, dinosaurs etc.), mini erasers, cars, small toys
- Coins, pirate gold, counters, magnetic counters, magnets
- Tongs, tweezers and hole punchers are great companions to use with these
Now if I was more organized I’d spray paint one of those big storage containers with oodles of drawers a shade of duck egg blue, but I’m not that organized. So at the moment these little things are all in zip lock bags. And hey, that works JUST fine… but I do strive to be that duck egg blue SLP one day 😉
Have any other Little Things I’m missing out on? Make sure to leave a comment cos I bought a BIG box of zip lock bags that are begging to be filled.