Mr. Potato Head is a classic. A favorite toy that has entertained countless children during countless hours all over the globe.
When I first start coaching an ABA VB program for a new family, school, association or government center, I always make a inventory list of the educational materials already available in the space. Then I make recommendations based on what I feel is missing and will be helpful for the kids following the program. If there isn’t already a Mr. Potato Head present, I al ways put it on my « recommendations list ».
Mr. Potato Head is simple. He is beautiful in his simplicity. He is a wonderful educational toy.
A little history : Mr. Potato Head was designed by George Lerner and « born » in 1949. Hasbro was the first company to distribute the toy in 1952. Mr. Potato was a simple grouping of plastic body parts that were stuck into a real potato (or other vegetable or even certain fruits) until 1964 when Hasbro began delivering a plastic body with Mr. Potato Head’s various body parts.
How can you use your Mr. Potato Head to work on each of the verbal operants with your child with autism ?
As a mand : Have your child use a sign, sign and word, exchange a picture or word alone (depending on the child’s current level of verbal communication) to request each body part to complete Mr. Potato Head.
As a tact : Have your child use a sign, sign and word, exchange a picture or word alone (depending on the child’s current level of verbal communication) to label each body part.
As a receptive / listener responding activity : Ask your child to « show » or « give » you each body part and you complete Mr. Potato Head !! For example, « give me the eyes !! » and then when your child gives you Mr. Potato Head’s eyes you put them in the correct spot. A variation of this activity is to hide each body part in a tub of dried lentils. Have your child search in the tub of dried lentils to find each body part you ask for. This makes the activity a fun sensory experience too !!
As an echoic activity : Have your child repeat each word « eyes », « mouth », « ears », « hat », « feet », « arm », « nose » … (if they are at the level in their communication where they are saying words, of course).
Mr. Potato Head is also a great game for building your child’s Fine Motor skills as the games features small parts and requires your child to use their pincer grip as well as to push and pull in order to assemble and disassemble him.
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