Ways to Play with Ned’s Head:
- Stereognosis: This is an important skill related to our tactile (touch) sense. Stereognosis allows a child to be able to recognize what something is, using touch, alone. We rely heavily on our visual and auditory sense to recognize objects and other things in our environment, but stereognosis relies fully on the ability to perceive through touch. This skill is a primary purpose of Ned’s Head, encouraging the child to feel for the object without looking. The cards can be used to help a child identify and pair the felt item with the picture on the card. To increase the challenge, remove the cards, and ask the child to describe what the feel, and see if they can identify it, without the use of a visual cue.
- Visual and Tactile Discrimination: As mentioned above, this toy is an excellent tool for developing the tactile sense. Pieces can be removed from Ned’s head and placed in a tactile bin (e.g. bin filled with dry pasta, beans, pom poms, rice, etc.), then found by visually discriminating between the objects and additional materials in the bin. This can be a great “I Spy” game, while also focusing on the difference between the touch of the found objects from what is also felt in the bin.
- Sensory Play: While this game is typically played seated, it can be easily implemented into a movement activity. Movement can help to increase the child’s attention, focus, and motivation to participate. You can place the cards in different places while the child hops, animal walks, or runs to find them. You can also use a hoppity ball for searching, or implement jumping jacks or jumping on a small trampoline in between each turn.
- Descriptions: As noted with Stereognosis, the primary purpose of Ned’s Head (when played as intended) is for a player to use his/her sense of touch to identify an object. Have your child describe what they are feeling as they explore the object via touch. This can be tricky and it is important that on your own turns you are modeling the language you want your child to use (e.g. Spider: “I feel lots of long, thin things sticking out. There are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. It almost feels like legs. They are attached to a round piece in the middle. I think this might be a spider). For children who have a limited vocabulary of descriptors, consider providing visual cues such as a word list they can chose from (if your child is not reading, adding a picture next to the word can helpful). Examples of common words used to describe are: long, short, skinny, fat, round, flat, pointy, bumpy, smooth.
- Giving Directions: If you are able to play this game with more people, try having your child give you/others directions on how to play. Even if you know, pretend you forgot or purposely forget a step, allowing them to correct you. You may have to help them at first, providing cues or modeling as needed. Explaining how to play to others will help build your child’s ability to sequence (e.g. First, you have to stick your hand in. Then you have to pick an object. etc.)
- Storytelling: This can be a fun way to modify the game. How did that object get into Ned’s Head? Practice sequencing a story together using words such as “First, second, third” and “before/after.”
- Articulation: Trade out some of the objects that come with Ned’s Head for some pictures or words that have your child’s target sound in them. Depending on the level of difficulty you might practice saying the words in single words, short phrases or longer sentences. Your child’s speech-language therapist can help you pick out words and the level of difficulty in which to work on.
Image from: https://www.superduperinc.com/products/view.aspx?pid=fg2460#.V_O2EfkrIdU
Blog post by Katie Woolard, MS, OTR/L and Anna Housman, MS, CCC-SLP