Best Toys for Speech and Language Development
Simple toys can be great tools in your arsenal for bringing out language in your child. Below we highlight some examples of toys you might have laying around the house already and ways you can use them to elicit speech from your child.
1. Wind up toys
- Show your child how the toy works, but don’t let them have it. Once you’ve gotten them interested in what it does, hold the toy and wait for the child to verbally request “again” or “more”. If they are not giving you a verbal response, you can model it by saying “again” or “more” and then winding it up and letting it go.
- Give your child the toy and allow them to play with it. If they are having trouble winding it up, wait for them to verbally request “help”. If they simply hand it to you, model what you want them to say, “Do you want me to help you?”, then encourage them to say “help” themselves.
- Have the child use verb + ing to describe the action of the wind-up toy. For example: “The grasshopper is hopping”, “The snail is crawling”, or “the cow is walking”.
- Place multiple toys together for the child to compare actions and looks. For example: “The crocodile is green, but the snail is orange”, “The gorilla has a banana, but the squirrel has an acorn”.
- Narrate what you and your child are doing while playing with the blocks. For children still working on basic concepts use simpler language (tall, short, big, small, more, less, colors, shapes, counting). For example, “This block is green”, “You have two blocks”, “My block is big and yours is small”
- For children working on more complex concepts, use prepositions (on, under, over, beside, above, next to, in, etc.). For example, “You put the red block on the yellow block”, “The square block is under the triangle block”, “I’m putting my block next to your block”.
- Problem solving skills are used to plan and execute a tower that won’t fall down
- Let your child use their imagination to lead the play
- Use pot, pans and assorted foods to ignite your child’s ability to describe items. “What are you making?”, “That smells good!”, “Thank you for the oatmeal.”
- Following and giving directions with the kitchen set. Ask your child to complete a specific task; for example, “Can you give me the pan?”or “Can you put the cookies in the oven?”.
- Help your child become imaginative and playful by pretending to cook or letting your child play with their kitchen set while you cook an actual meal.
- Describe the different body parts or have your child describe them and where they put them, “You put his eyes where his mouth should be! You’re silly!”
- Describe the emotions they might be experiencing, or ask your child to tell you what they are doing or thinking or how they feel.
- Let the child dive into pretend play and social interaction
- Each player picks a card from the deck and places it on their headband for everyone else to see. Players then take turns asking the other players questions to try to figure out what is pictured on their card.
- You can also play by having the other players describe the card to get the player to guess what it is.
- You can have children play this to work on descriptive skills and social interaction.
- Ask your child “wh” questions (who, what, when, where, why and how) while you play with the animals, dolls, etc. “Where is the horse?” “Who is eating in the kitchen?” “Which animal makes the sound Mooo?”
- Teach turn taking and social skills. Take turns with the figures and work on asking “May I play with the horse?” or “May I take a turn with the dollhouse?”