More time went by between these posts than I intended, but hey, life happens.

To recap/remind:

Receptive Language (what we understand) – this is the ability to listen and understand what is communicated by another person. In the Early Intervention age range (birth to 3) some examples would include: following simple directions, the ability to identify objects from a group, the ability to point to objects in pictures etc. In infants an example can be as simple as turning to the source of sound or responding to his/her name.

Expressive Language (the use of language) – this is the ability to communicate wants and needs. Usually we mean verbally but depending on the circumstances it can mean sign language or the use of a communication device. Some examples of this include: the ability to request objects using words, the ability to name objects (real objects or in pictures). In infants this includes grunting, cooing and babbling – all which sounds meaningless at first but are important stepping stones to using words in more functional ways.

Social Skills/Pragmatic Language – these are the more subtle aspects of language and in young children some examples include eye contact, joint attention (the ability to look at a toy, then to you, then back to the toy etc) and turn taking.

Of course these lists are nowhere near all inclusive and are simply meant to help clarify the definitions.

Fisher Price Puppy and Friends Learning Table

This was another toy I requested for Christmas mostly so they would have a fun way to practice standing and possibly cruising.

Age Range: 6 months – 2 years

What it does: There are 4 “stations” at this table: a computer, a piano, a book and a phone. Each interacts in a different way depending on the setting. The first setting is “English”. This setting is more educational and does things like label the colors on the piano, the objects in the book and the letters in the computer. The second is “Spanish”, which is the same as English, only in Spanish. The third is “music”. Here you get a snippet of a classical song on the piano or computer with a couple of full blown songs on the phone. In then book you get examples of the noise each object makes. The fourth is “play”, where each item is presented more functionally, i.e. the keys on the piano play a note, the computer makes computer like sounds, the book pages flip and the phone dials. Oh, and then of course there is “off”, for when you’ve had enough of hearing the book flip of the 8 millionth time. 🙂

It also comes with 4 legs, which are removable. I like this feature because it gives the babies the opportunity to play with it while sitting or standing. They really seemed to enjoy this from the earliest age given (6 months), and I have no doubt they will continue to enjoy it for awhile. I find the songs to be entertaining enough. On a scale from 1-5 (1 being least annoying and 5 most) I’d say I’d give this an “if I hear this song one more time I will scream” rating of 2.5 – depending on my mood.

Likes: the different settings, catchy music, lights, labels things (colors, object) in learning mode.

Dislikes: the legs are wobbly and lightweight so if baby is at ALL unsteady while standing its likely the table will slide.

The table :)
The table – missing the phone that I assume is under a couch somewhere

6 months – 1 year

Receptive Language

  • Begin teaching object identification- book, phone, or any of the objects located within the book
  • Press a button or activate the toy somehow. Wait and see if your baby “anticipates” that you will press the button again.
  • While your baby is playing, call his or her name and see if he/she stops playing to look at you
  • You can use this for lots of language exposure – be very verbal during play and describe things. Your baby is always listening. Tell him/her the colors or objects. Pick up the phone and say “hello”. Label the shapes, etc.

Expressive Language

  • Babies this age usually aren’t saying words yet but you can use the toy to encourage some babbling. They should start to have some simple cause and effect and the ability to imitate some so you can use that to your advantage. “Talk” on the phone in babble and see if your baby will “respond”. Play the piano and say “mi (me) mi mi”, push the computer keys and say “pa pa pa (push)”. Any of the early developing sounds work too, which include /b/, /d/, /m/, /n/, /p/.
  • You can start to introduce baby sign. It isn’t likely they will use it yet but as stated above, exposure is never going to hurt. You can take your baby’s hands and give hand over hand cues to sign for “book”, or ” play”. You can also activate the toy and then cue baby to ask for “more”.
  • If baby is beginning to pull up but still hasn’t mastered it yet, you can use this opportunity to introduce the word “up” as you help him/her stand up, and “down” when he/she wants to sit back down.
  • Again, you can use this for lots of language exposure – be very verbal during play and describe things. Your baby is always listening. Tell him/her the colors or objects. Pick up the phone and say “hello”. Label the shapes, etc.

12-18 months

Receptive Language

  • Object identification: ask your baby where the book or phone is and see if he/she will reach for that part of the table.
  • Appropriate play: does your baby flip the book pages, open/close the computer lid, pretend to dial the phone?
  • Simple one step directions: point to a button and see if he/she will push it. Gesture to the book or computer and ask baby to turn the page or open the lid.
  • While baby plays say “stop” and “wait” and see if baby responds (not necessarily listens, but at least responds)

Expressive Language

  • Encourage imitation: you can label any object/shape/color to encourage this. Baby doesn’t have to say the whole word correctly – “ba” for ball or “ca” or even “da” for car is ok at this age. Pick up the phone and say “hello” and hand baby the phone while prompting “say hello”. Turn the toy off and encourage imitation of “on”, “more” or “please”.
  • Encourage independent word use: point to the book and ask “what is this?” You can also do this with the objects in the book. Pick up the phone and say “hello” and then hand baby the phone – wait and see if baby will say hello. Turn the toy off and see if baby will ask for “on”, “more”, “please”, etc.

Social Skills

  • See if baby will hand you the phone or use some other method to initiate interaction with you. You can practice this by picking up the phone, having a “conversation” and handing it to him or her.

18-24 months

Receptive Language

  • Picture identification: ask baby to point to any of the objects in the 4 pages of the book that you name.
  • Simple verbs: push, dance, open, play. Demonstrate as needed and then after awhile see if baby can demonstrate on his/her own.
  • Simple direction following (with and without help).

Expressive Language

  • Put two words together. You can pair things like “open book”, “go up” (mouse or computer lid), “more ___”, “____ please”, “push button”, “red circle”, “on please” etc. You can use this for labeling or requesting.
  • Encourage independent word use: point to the book and ask “what is this?” You can also do this with the objects in the book. Pick up the phone and say “hello” and then hand baby the phone – wait and see if baby will say hello. Turn the toy off and see if baby will ask for “on”, “more”, “please”, etc.

Social Skills

  • While your baby is playing, comment on what he/she is doing or play along to encourage some joint attention, or the ability to look between you and the toy with eye contact.
  • Begin to encourage turn taking. Press a button and tell baby “your turn” . Wait and see if he/she will push a bottom in response.

Although the toys’ recommended age range is 6 months – 2 years, it seems to me that there are many opportunities to use it over the age of 2. Perhaps your 2-3 year old isn’t as interested as he/she once was, but particularly if you have a toddler and infant you can engage your toddler to play as well by doing some of the following:

  • ID common verbs: use the book to ask your toddler “who is playing/throwing etc”?
  • ID/name colors
  • ID/name shapes
  • Simple two step directions (related) such as “open the computer and push a button” or “pick up the phone and call grandma”
  • Name some simple verbs such as play, spin, read, push
  • Answer yes/no questions such as “is this a monkey?, is this red?” etc. Ensure he/she is familiar with the objects you are asking about. You can prompt them to respond yes or no at first.

If you’re interested in purchasing it, you can find it on Amazon. Fisher-Price Puppy and Friends Learning Table.

And if you missed the first post on my so far all time favorite, the Cruise and Groove Ballapalooza, you can find the post here.

Questions or toy suggestions welcome!

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