I love using Mr. Potato head with some of my beginning talkers! I started this when I had 1-3 graders and am thinking it is on the verge of not being age-appropriate for my current 3-4 graders. But, I still love whipping it out every once and awhile. Over the course of one Christmas season (sales!), I collected about 3 different potato heads and accessories. I store everything in this big plastic tub. Basically, the goal is to get the child to request each item they want for their potato head. For some students, I have them ask for the items vocally, while with others, I use PECS. Not only does this work on developing complete spoken sentences, but it also works on learning body parts, taking turns, and increasing vocabulary.
I did this activity with two students the other day. I gave them each an empty potato head and had them take turns requesting for the parts they needed. Both of these students can talk and both usually use 3-word utterances (i.e. "I want ___"). So for this activity, I required them to add a color or number as an attribute to describe the item they were requesting. I have pretty much every accessory in multiple colors, so I want the student to say "I want the green glasses" instead of just "I want glasses,"
Here are the two finished potato heads!
Once it is time to clean up the potatoes, I switched from working on expressive language to receptive language. I said "I want the shoes" or "I want one arm" and see if my student could identify the correct part and hand it back to me to put in the bin.
Here is the set-up for my PECS book when I do this activity with nonverbal or low-verbal students. I have done it with just body parts on the book as well as added colors for students to create longer sentences.