I don’t know what it is about duct tape, but it is almost universally fascinating. For “just tape” it’s awfully fun, and very useful to lots of people. In my weekly clinic meeting, my supervisor challenged my fellow graduate clinicians and I to come up with activities to target speech and language goals using just that — duct tape!
I wish I could take credit for all of these ideas, but many of them (the best ones!) were provided by my supervisor or fellow clinicians:
Use duct tape to make an awesome ramp (or series of ramps) for tiny cars by attaching it to a counter top, chair, or table and stretching it to the floor. Hold cars at the top and have the child say, “Go!” or some other language target to release the cars.
Make an indoor hopscotch court. Tape a picture of a speech or language goal in each square — when you jump to the square, you say the word, phrase, etc.
Use duct tape to make “roads” on the floor. Drive mini cars around the roads. You can also draw pictures on the tape “road” and make it an auditory exercise by instructing the child, “Drive to the X.” or make it a task with multiple critical elements and ordering words by saying, “First, go to the X, then drive really fast to the Y, and end up at the Z.” You can also make the pictures words that your child has difficulty saying, and have the child name each object as the car drives over them.
Cut up the duct tape into little “bandaids” and play hospital. You can make it an expressive task by having the child practice words you’d use at the doctor and rehearsing that “script” or make it a receptive task by instructing the child, “Put it on the bear’s nose. Put it on his arm.”
The best part of using duct tape, or other simple household materials, to make toys is that it’s inexpensive and allows for greater flexibility. You may only be able to play with a game one or two ways, but with duct tape and other craft supplies, the possibilities are much greater. Another great point that my supervisor brought up is that in many early intervention programs provided through state agencies, therapists travel to the children’s homes. Some of these children may be from homes where putting food on the table is a higher priority, and there just isn’t money for toys. A roll of duct tape can go a long way into making a meaningful therapy session when resources are scarce.