If you missed my post recently I am joining up with a bunch of awesome other bloggers and taking part in the Virtual Book Club for Kids this year! Our spotlight author for September is Lois Ehlert and I checked out a few of her books from the library this month and used them both in therapy and with my own children (E almost 4 and Ev 20 months). Today I am going to share with you all a fun and cute craft to go along with Top Cat along with some ideas on how to use this book to expand children’s speech and language skills.
Before I talk about skills you can target..let’s first talk about what this book is about in case you haven’t had the pleasure of reading it yet. In this book, Top Cat rules the roost…until a new cat moves in. At first Top Cat doesn’t like this new cute cat and does not want to share his toys and home. Over time the Top Cat learns how much fun having a friend around can be. In true Lois Ehlert style, the pictures are colorful and engaging.
What Skills Can You Target?
Concept of Change: This is a great book to use to target dealing with the changes that come with having new people enter your life. This book can be used with typical kids and with children with social language delays to target sharing, change, and new people in general (new class, new school, new siblings, new step-siblings, new long-term guests like cousins, etc).
Concept of Sharing: Ahhhh sharing. This is a concept that can very hard for some kids to understand. This book can be used to talk about sharing and how much more fun it is to have friends to share with then no friends at all.
Perspective Taking: This is also a great book to target perspective taking. How do you think the Top Cat feels when the new cat moves in? How do you think the new cat feels when the Top Cat doesn’t share his toys and fights with him? How do you think the cats feel at the end of the story? How can you tell? Have you ever felt like the Top Cat or the new cat before? When? How? (Perspective taking can be difficult for children with speech and language delays, specifically those on the autism spectrum).
Vocabulary: Books are a great way to work on vocabulary. Some vocabulary you could target with Top Cat include: pet, guard, invaded, message, boss, striped, leap, bounce, bare, company, decide, etc.
Story Telling/Narration Skills: A great thing about books, is that they are excellent for working on story telling and narration skills. You can have your child or students practice retelling the story after you’ve read it several times. Storytelling is a wonderful time to focus on syntax and semantics as well.
Articulation/Phonology: In addition to the skills above, I personally used this book with some phonological/articulation clients to target /k/ and /t/. For children who front or back sounds, the words “top” and “cat” can be very challenging. I used this book to target the use of /t/ and /k/ in the same word for one of my little guys while we made our own Top Cat.
Make Your Own Top Cat (or New Cat)
I tend to use crafts quite a bit with my preschool population. I have found that most of my clients/students are very motivated by crafts. In addition, crafts are a GREAT way to work on part/whole relationships. For example, doing a simple car craft you can talk about the wheels, windows, doors, lights, etc as you glue them together. With this car craft you can talk about hind legs, front legs, torso/body, head, ears, etc.
With this craft, I prepared everything ahead of time and then my clients had to earn each piece of the cat craft by saying their target words correctly. In this case, I had one of my clients say “Top Cat” to get each piece. This is how we made the cat:
- I cut out a torso, two hind legs, two front legs, a head, two ears, two eyes, two pupils, one nose, 10 whiskers, and 8 spots (I realized later we forgot a tail! So this cat is tail-less 😉 ) I did this freehand and had the items ready for the lesson.
- My client said his words to earn piece.
- When all pieces were earned, we worked together to put the cat together
Pretty simple! I realize that if you are an SLP working full time in the schools it would be difficult to prep for this for ALL your students…when I was working full time I’d do a craft once a week and prep when I had time (and only did them for 1/2- 1/3 of my caseload).
So tell me…what activities have you done with Top Cat?