• Building 9, 3 Jackman Street, Southport. Qld 4215
  • Call now: 07 5528 2222

Home Speech Therapy Lesson 1
Make the toy the reinforcement schedule

Choosing appropriate toys to stimulate your child’s speech and language skills is the start to developing skills for home speech therapy.

Mr Potato Head is a favorite as this toys allows for you to break the activity up into rewarding bite sized tasks as your child enjoys the process of building new Mr. Potato Head characters.

The skill to follow verbal instructions is essential for your child to progress forward with learning across many settings such as at home, kindergarten and school.

Compliancy to follow the teacher’s spoken instructions is essential for classroom success. Learning how to do this well at an early age can be critical to their success in moving forward in many skills and subjects. Children with challenges in following instructions and listening can further compromise their language development to deteriorate over years if specialised support is not sought out early. Impairments in learning can be the result of this long term. Academic and occupational restrictions can lead to significant frustration and lowering of self-esteem.

Some children can struggle to comprehend what is said to them due to many different reasons. Here are some of these reasons…


speech therapy equipmentYour child may be distracted and may not be able to attend to what you are saying to them.


speech therapy resoucesYour child may have hearing challenges.


Speech therapy resourcesYour child may not be able to process the verbal information due to problems in hearing the components of speech and language. This may be problems with auditory processing of the sounds in words. It may also be difficulties understanding what words mean.


Your child’s mind may be directed towards another idea or toy. This compulsion to play with that toy may stop them from following the instructions that you are giving them.
speech therapy resourcesYour child may become confused when there are so many words to have to process and remember and may not be able to hold these all in their mind at once.
So how does Mr. Potato Head help us do this

We can start young by playing a game using one of the all-time favourite toys that kids just love. Let all be clear…Mr Potato Head in whatever dress he appears in, is just more interesting that an adult—right!? So let him be the star of the lesson and let him teach your child. Sometimes this may bring interest and compliancy for the child that you just can’t please or keep on track.

Optimal Communications Speech Pathology katrine elliott autistic spectrum disorder behaviour management
HERE’S WHAT YOU DO: Mr Potato head says…  

Use Mr Potato head to facilitate a Simon Says style of activity where Mr Potato head provides the instructions and your child has to accurately listen and carry out the instruction.  If they do so, they can opt to change 1 item of Mr Potato Head’s body per correct instruction followed! So the toy acts as the actual reinforcement for your child after each verbal instruction and then connects your child back to the lesson to listen to the next instruction. This is important as some children can wander away when they get bored.

speech therapy resourcesFirst, build Mr Potato Head while your child watches you have fun. As you add the body parts and accessories one at a time, show your child what you are doing as you say the sentences. eg. “I think I will put in his eyes next.”
speech therapy home program

Tell your child

We’re going to play a game of ‘Mr Potato Head Says!

Explain the rules –

 “In this game we need to use our good listening skills

Mr Potato Head is going to ask you to carry out an action or two, are you ready?”

speech therapy home program

Start with simple 1 part instructions

e.g. “Mr Potato head says…

Touch your nose”,

 “… Sit on the floor”. 

If they perform the action accurately, they are able to choose a body part to remove and gradually replace to make a new character. Then your child can add new accessory.

If this tasks is too easy? Start to include more complex instructions that contain 2 parts of information your child needs to process.

For example, “Hop on one foot and sing Happy Birthday

Clap your hands two times and then poke out your tongue.”

Be creative as you can with the instructions. 


If your child is over 4 years, they may be able to follow instructions with 3-4 components and use words that tell your child how to comprehend the sentences structural order-such as words like after-


For example-

After you touch your left shoulder, count down from 10 backwards.”

If, I clap my hands, put your hands on your head.”

When I say the name of an animal, you put two crystals in the small bucket.”

After I say the letter B, point to only two other letters on the alphabet card.

Phonic All Stars in home speech therapy, language delay, speech delayYou can integrate your Phonic All StarLEARN THE ALPHABET” Cards into your following instructions tasks. This way your child can also learn about the Alphabet letters.


“Point to the letter that is after the letter T.”

“Put the blue crystal on the letter that is under the letter S.”

Phonic All Star Wall chart in home speech therapyThen teach your child the individual speech sounds using the “Phonic All StarLearn the SPEECH SOUNDS” wallchart or folderguide.

eg. “Point to the one that says “chuh… after you point to the one that say “sss”.

Point to the sounds “mmm—ffff–rrrr” in that order.


  • To Increase the time of your child’s listening attention
  • To extend on your child’s listening memory skills
  • To teach the meaning of various words and concepts to your child. These can include: Nouns (naming words The man, the caterpillar), verbs (action-doing words eg. Eating, laughing), prepositions (space and place words eg. In, besides, through), adjectives (words that describe the nouns eg. hungry, angry) and pronouns (words that reference people and things eg. He, she, them , it)
  • To manage self-directed behaviour if your child is showing autistic spectrum traits or oppositional defiance traits.
autistic spectrum disorder, behavioural challenges, difficulty with listening
What does this look like?

This looks like children who can understand what you are saying, but choose not to follow what you are saying. It can be based on a special or intense interest in something else or a will to do the opposite to what you want.

Either way, this behaviour significantly gets in the way of learning and development of speech and language skills. Later it can be a great interference with classroom learning. If you see some of these traits, do not leave this and make contact with us to offer you support. Some children need to be identified early to give intense early intervention. Also, some communication disorders identified in children in their early years, families may be able to access funding for this early intervention support for Speech Pathology services. A diagnosis from a professional consortium which will involve a Speech Pathologist with a special interest and experience in these conditions is essential for this process to be undertaken.

We can help.

Katrine Elliott is an experienced Certified Senior Speech Pathologist with over 20 years clinical practice supporting children and adults with communication and swallowing disorders/skills. As now part of a team at Optimal Communications, they built and developed the Once Upon A Time Therapy Centre in Southport-Gold Coast.