Therapy Tips

30 Speech and Language Goals for the Thomas the Train Table

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After working in home-based early intervention for many years, one of the most common and challenging toys I have worked with has been the Thomas the Train™ Table. Children consistently gravitate to the table, and it has been a struggle at times to work on activities that do not involve it.

Recently, I decided to write speech and language goals that I could target with the Thomas the Train Table. After writing the goals, my therapy with this activity became clearer and more focused. These goals may be helpful for other therapists who work in the home and for parents to carry over goals the therapist is working on with their child.

In addition, this can be a helpful handout when a parent asks what they can work on with their child and how they can use the train table.

  1. The child will follow one- to two-step directives (e.g., "Push Thomas over the bridge.")
  2. The child will identify specific feelings of the particular trains and/or cars. (All of the trains have different facial expressions that can be interpreted in various ways.)
  3. The child will identify and/or label colors (e.g., identifying or labeling the different colored trains).
  4. The child will identify and label numbers related to the train. (Each train has a different number.)
  5. The child will understand and use prepositions appropriately during play with the train table (e.g., "Thomas over the bridge," "Thomas under the bridge," and "Thomas in the mine").
  6. The child will use problem-solving skills to negotiate the train table (e.g., place a blockage on the track so the child has to figure out how to negotiate around it, or remove the tracks and have the child rebuild them).
  7. The child will ask for assistance during play at the train table. (Removing the tracks can be a way to have the child ask for help.)
  8. The child will describe various trains during play at the train table. (The trains have different textures, colors and themes.)
  9. The child will understand size concepts during play at the train table. (Many trains are different sizes.)
  10. The child will express "fast" and "slow" appropriately during play at the train table.
  11. The child will understand and express the concept of "one" and "many" during play at the train table (e.g., group two or three trains on one side and have one train on the other side).
  12. The child will verbalize plurals appropriately during play at the table (e.g., "trains," "cars").
  13. The child will express relative directions such as left, right, forward and backward appropriately during play at the train table.
  14. The child will categorize trains and cars appropriately during play (e.g., colors, similar features).
  15. The child will verbalize a short narrative based on a previous play schema or recent experience (e.g., ask the child to describe what a train just did or its trip over a bridge).
  16. The child will answer simple "wh" questions during play at the train table (e.g., "Where is Thomas going?" or "What is Thomas doing?").
  17. The child will articulate the names of the various trains correctly during play at the train table.
  18. The child will name various trains during play at the train table. (This can be a functional goal to facilitate play so you understand what the child is telling you and which train he or she is referring to.)
  19. The child will work on various pragmatic concepts during play at the train table (e.g., saying "excuse me" when he or she wants to get around another train).
  20. The child will label actions during play at the train table (e.g., "train going," "train stopping," "train sleeping").
  21. The child will express and use correct pronouns in speech during play at the train table (e.g., "She is going over the bridge").
  22. The child will take turns during play at the train table (e.g., take turns going through the tunnel).
  23. The child will use correct possessives in speech during play at the train table (e.g., "Thomas' shed is already being used").
  24. The child will use different tenses in speech during play at the train table (e.g., "Rosie went over the bridge," "Thomas is going over the bridge").
  25. The child will understand and express "same" and "different" appropriately during play at the train table (e.g., same colors, different expressions).
  26. The child will engage in symbolic play at the train table (e.g., Thomas' wheel is broken and needs to get fixed).
  27. The child will initiate and maintain a topic of discussion during play at the train table.
  28. The child will request specific trains (e.g., "I want 'Gordon').
  29. The child will comment on a specific train during play at the train table.
  30. The child will be able to imitate sounds of the various trains during play at the train table.

I hope these goals can be helpful during play at the Thomas the Train Table.

Rebecca Eisenberg works with young children who have various disabilities. She can be contacted at becca@gravitybread.com.


Therapy Tips Archives
  Last Post: January 28, 2011 | View Comments(2)

Rebecca and Olga,
I think you both make very good points. However, we have to remember the difference between short term goals and session objectives. Having session objectives/goals, like the ones mentioned above, help clinicians to target specific concepts. Depending on my client's abilities, I usually limit the objectives to approximately 3. This way, I'm focused on achieving my short term goal (in this case expressing descriptive concepts in various contexts) in a systematic fashion. :)
Kim Scanlon, MA, CCC-SLP


Kimberly Scanlon,  Speech Language Pathologist,  Scanlon Speech Therapy, LLCJanuary 28, 2011
Ramsey, NJ



Thank you, Rebecca
These are very helpful.

In my many years of working in a variety of pediatric settings, I have learned to write very broad goals, so that another therapist, teacher or parent could use them as a guide in their work. Broadly written goals are also easier to use for checking progress and writing annual and quarterly reviews. For example,
"The child will express "fast" and "slow" appropriately during play at the train table" could be made broader as
"The child will express descriptive concepts (e.g."fast" and "slow" or "long" and "short") appropriately during play in the housekeeping area, water play, on the playground or train table."
Such a goal allows to work on the same skill practically anywhere - including the train table.
If goals specify the setting and materials in a narrow way, it might be difficult to address the goals consistently - what if one day the train table is not available, or the child has lost all interest in it?

Olga Porterfield,  speech pathologistDecember 11, 2010
Albany, NY




     

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