Hands-down one of the BEST investments I have made to my therapy materials collection is my marble race set. I got mine for only $20 at Toys R Us about 5 years ago. You can find the one I have HERE.
The marble race game comes with many different track pieces that come in several different shapes and colors as well as connector pieces, bases, and tops/launch pads. This provides a TON of opportunities for language. I have used this marble race game to increase and target:
- requesting skills
- questioning skills
- basic concepts
- following directions
- diving directions
- problem solving
- color ID
- eye contact
- joint attention
Here are some of the specific ways I use this toy:
- I begin by giving the child(ren) three bottom/base pieces. I explain what they are called and that we need to always start building the race with three bases (it comes with 6 but I always use three…I have found that making it in a triangle makes it most stable and allows for it to be built very high, which the kids love).
- We then review the names of all the track pieces. One of my little guys on the spectrum was the one to help me name all the pieces 🙂 Here are the pieces and the names for each.
- After the review, we begin building. Each child needs to request the piece the want to use by name (or by using a picture if the child is non verbal) and at the level that they are working on (i.e. 2,3,4, or more word utterances).Â If the child(ren) are working on articulation only, then the child will have to say a word 10 times before they can pick a piece. (You can also target any thing else you want before they pick their piece).
- After they put a piece of track on, they will need to put cylinders on for support. Depending on the child’s goals, I may make them ask for each cylinder, ask for them my number or color, have them say an artic word so many times or answer some other question, or just give them so many.
- I continue to go around and around until the race is built. At the end, I make sure to leave 5 minutes to actually race the marbles and then one minute or two for clean up.
- Predicting: 1) You can ask them how many cylinders they think it will take to go from the bottom of one piece to the top of another piece. 2) you can predict which marble will “win” the race.
- Building Tip: I teach them that the end of the piece that they can put their finger through (or the side you can see through), is the end that needs to be attached to the highest point of the building.
- Play Tip: If you buy this exact set, I recommend you buy yourself a set of glass marbles to use with it. The set comes with plastic marbles and quite frankly, they suck. I like to use both the plastic ones and the glass ones and teach kids how the heavier ones go faster than the plastic ones.
- Storage Tip: I bought a plastic file box with a handle which is exactly big enough to store the game. I also store the marbles in a zip lock bag.
What toys do you love to use to teach?
Suzanne Herman says
I have an old set made by Discovery Toys and it has been a favorite therapy tool of mine for the past 13 years. It is highly motivating for all clients but it is especially helpful with the children on the autism spectrum. Even the most resistant child will come around when I pull this out. I will use it already constructed when teaching PECS. The child will quickly learn to exchange the picture as a request for a marble.
I too use it while teaching PECS!! 😀
Never thought to use this as a speech tool for my son… but, it was his FAVORITE toy for a long time!
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Thank you!! I have a 4 year old son and he wants this toy so much that I was considering buying it, now we must have it!! He is having difficulties to learn and focusing at school and now I know I can use this as a therapy and motivation tool, thank you so much for the helping tips 🙂
Thank god I found this website. I have lots of toys but don’t know how to play with my son using different vocabulary.Could you please include a print button on the screen so that it would be handy for everyone? Thank you! Keep up your good work.