Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Which Dinosaur is Your Favorite?

Today, we put wall stickers of dinosaurs up on my therapy room walls. Which dinosaur does Annie want? I asked my young friend, Jake. Jake did not check with Annie but told me she wanted a Velociraptor (I am making this up because I can't really remember who wanted what). You can say, What dinosaur do you want, Annie? Jake asked her, Do you want this one? and pointed to the Velociraptor but never looked at Annie. Annie is new to working with Jake and so she agreed that she did, amazingly, want that exact dinosaur. I suggested that she try to become more opinionated about her dinosaur preferences so that Jake would not be upset or confused when his peer play partners did not agree with him on every point. She did exactly that and Jake became more interested in looking at her as we played together.

Wall stickers are great for teaching children concept words like higher/lower, beside/between above/below/under, next to, way up/down low, too close/too far away, next to the ceiling, right by the floor, in the corner of the room, close to the door, too crowded/not enough....

Like any kind of joint art project, decorating the walls with wall stickers allows the child to see the meaning of concept words -- one set of wall stickers can probably teach your child dozens of new vocabulary words. Just redecorate the rooms of your house often with them.

For the child who is ready, as Jake was, this activity will also allow your child to experience differences in personal artistic preference. Learning how to stay emotionally regulated (calm) while another person expresses a difference in artistic preference actually requires a pretty high level emotional maturity. I know this because my husband an I had bare walls in our home for years before we developed the emotional maturity to explore enough options and negotiate mutually acceptable wall art. Jake did pretty well with this today, though. I wonder which dinosaur Annie likes best? I asked. Which Dinosaur is your favorite? Jake turned and asked her. He did not seem to mind at all when she picked a different favorite than his.

Teaching Jake to wonder what others like or dislike is just as important as teaching Jake new vocabulary --more important really because at this point I am sure that Jake will develop a good vocabulary. He is at risk, though, for not developing enough social interest--related to his own self and related to others. Annie left today more prepared to teach Jake about his own and her unique opinions, preferences, and interests.

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