Teaching Skills with Toys
Eye Contact and Attention
The biggest trick up our sleeve for maintaining eye contact is to use toys with parts to which the therapist or play partner can control access. You promote eye contact and attention by having something the child wants. Draw the learner's attention to the toy part by holding it within his field of vision, then moving the object up to your face (for examples, see the Early Learner video). We like using see thru toys, such as the See-thru blocks (See Blocks), to promote eye to eye gaze. This skill seques nicely into language skills such as requesting.
As seen in the Early Learner movie, teaching features or attributes such as color, size and shape are easiest taught by using objects that differ from each other only by the feature or attribute you are trying to teach. When looking at toys to teach concepts, try to find toys that have parts that fit this criteria. Take for example, the Pound a Ball (see ball mazes). This toy has four balls of the same shape and dimensions, but differ only by color. So in addition to using the balls for requesting by name (E.g. "I want ball", or "Give me ball"), you can evolve to "Give me green ball" or "I want blue ball."
Or you can play labelling games, such as reciprocal asking of "What color?" is the ball . Later you can evolve that to What questions by taking turns hiding the balls behind your back and asking each other "Guess what color I am holding?" This type of an exchange would be an example of non-prompt dependent verbal interaction (aka intraverbal).