A slinky is is a really engaging sensory toy which works well with a wide range of children. There are many different sorts of slinky on the market nowadays, from rainbow coloured plastic ones to traditional metal ones to miniature ones. Keep your eyes peeled in toy shops and gift shops!
Most often, I use my slinkies for:
- Reinforcement – I find lots of children who are learning to use PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) enjoy a slinky and it motivates them to exchange their picture for a go with it.
- Eye contact – As well as waiting for eye contact as a request for a turn with the slinky, you can have some fun looking down it at the child you are working with. It looks pretty inside, especially if it’s a rainbow slinky, and you get eye to eye contact. if you would like to learn more about basic, fundamental communication skills like eye contact, please have a look at my post titled The Fundamentals of Communication.
- Parallel Play - This is the stage in play development where a young person is happy to play alongside but not actually with someone else. Slinkies are good for developing this stage as it is easy to have one each and for the adult to begin engaging with the child by copying what they do with their slinky.
- Concepts – because you can stretch the slinky out to make it long & let it spring back to make it short, it is very useful for working on these concepts. I do this a lot if I am teaching the concepts of long & short in preparation for phonology work with children who ‘stop’ fricative sounds like ‘s’ or ‘f’ and say plosives like ‘d’ or ‘b’ instead.
- Verbs – Finally, slinkies are great for developing understanding and use of action words like ‘stretch’, ‘bounce’, ‘see’, ‘pull’, ‘wobble’, ‘wiggle’.