Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Teddy Talker, saving the day with one hug at a time

One of the things that was continually stated and reiterated in my graduate school program was the variety of ways children can learn. No two students, or adults for that matter, learn alike. We all have certain preferences when it comes to studying new information. You may identify yourself as an auditory learner or a "hands-on" kind of person who loves to tinker. Personally, I view myself as a predominately visual learner and I know that is true of many of my students as well. Our learning styles are often reflected in the way that we present information. I always valued the critique of my supervisors when it came to this particular topic as it took me a while to orient my mind to evaluating my methods. It's something that requires constant reflection on of both information and presentation so we reach the needs of our entire audience. 

I recently had the opportunity to incorporate a new material into both my inclusion and articulation groups. It is geared towards learners of all varieties and aligns with common core standards for kindergarten. I wanted to share some of my experiences with you as it has made a great impact with my English-language learning students in particular. 

Teddy Talker is a product by Creative Speech Products that's designed to promote articulation and print skills. The foundation kit includes the Teddy with his articulators, tongue puppet, learning letters, manual, and tote bag. I consider this kit to be one of my newest "speech essentials" and carry it with me every day to my Letterland inclusion groups. While the focus of the two groups is on language/phonics, I have found that the diversity of the students and disabilities in these two groups give me valuable insight into flexible materials. My initial intention in bringing Teddy into our routine was as a visual support for sound production. My students LOVE imitating Teddy's mouth in my mirror while making the target sound. (For those of you who use Letterland, you know that those fun characters don't help students figure our how to actually shape their mouths.) It has rapidly morphed into Teddy also introducing them to new vocabulary words using articulation decks and objects from the EC teacher's alphabet tubs. He has helped with my lessons on positional words and will soon be helping me with pronouns too. The best part is the fact that they beg to give Teddy a hug at the end of every session. 

In terms of my older students (1-2nd grades), I use Teddy to help me out with my articulation groups. They get to find the mouth that he needs to make our sound and "teach" him how to make the sound. It's always nice to hear them talk about where their tongue needs to be in order to make the sound the right way. He has single-handily "tricked" some of my reluctant new students into accidentally saying their sounds in isolation as we imitate his mouth. I think, to some degree, my students feel less self-conscious about imitating Teddy's mouth than having to use my mouth as a model. Sometimes, I will just hold up the mouth pieces to the mirror or in front of my mouth as a reminder for them. 

Teddy is all ready to go to Letterland.
When I presented Teddy to my coworkers at our most recent Speech meeting, they were all very impressed with the optional mouth position cards. The cards show the picture of Teddy's mouth on one side with a little rhyming story for you to read on the back. Each rhyme card creates a unique story and visual for that sound with child-friendly vocabulary. The wide vocabulary differences my students possess makes me extremely grateful for this means of explaining sound production in a way that the majority of my students grasp. I am currently using these cards as an additional support for my inclusion groups. (P.S. This is the 1st time I've felt drawn to show them a product like this. Most of the time I'm usually asking for advice on school-order purchases.)

Disclosure Statement: Creative Speech Products provided resources in exchange for a feedback. The opinions expressed in this review are mine. No other compensation was provided. 


  1. I saw this product at ASHA and was thinking it might be a good purchase. I'm glad to read your review!

    1. That's where I saw it too. My students really love it and I keep coming up with new ways to incorporate him into sessions. :)