Toys & Games To Help Build Speech & Language Skills
It’s that time of year! One thing I am often asked by parents is suggestions for toys or activities they might be able to gift their children for the holidays which could help with building speech and language skills. Below you will find some of my favorites:
These are toys that may seem simple but can be great to start to work on early problem solving skills, colors, shapes, spatial concepts (on top, underneath, next to, etc.), quantitative concepts (more, most, least, less), and qualitative concepts (biggest, smallest, etc.). With endless possibilities of putting them together, it’s a toy that could provide hours of fun!
Mr. Potato Head
This is a toy that has been in my toy bag since I first became an SLP. This toy allows children to start to recognize body parts (“Find Mr. Potato Head’s eyes, now find your eyes.”), colors, and shapes. Also, it can help with learning prepositions (“Put the nose ON Mr. Potato Head,” “Put the shoes IN Mr. Potato Head’s back.”) Don’t be surprised if your child starts to verbally label items and narrate the adventures of Mr. Potato Head!
A running joke in my family is that the kids in the family will always get at least one book from Emily for every holiday. Books are my absolute favorite gift for children because of all of the potential skill building including vocabulary, narrative structure, early reading skills, and story prediction. Additionally, a gift that could teach a lot of social and moral lessons is always a positive in my book!
This is another example of a simple toy that could really build a lot of language skills! This kind of play could allow children to recognize shapes and colors of trains, buildings, and tracks, action verbs (stop, go), and following directions (“The train can stop, pick up the passengers, and then go down the track”). Additionally, this is a great toy to encourage children to narrate more stories about the trains and where they are going.
Puzzles are another one of my favorite toys to both use in speech therapy sessions and gift to kiddos that I know. If you were to go to a basic store, you could likely find a puzzle for all interests and age-levels. They are a great way to learn about shapes, colors, numbers, letters, etc., as well as encourage children to develop early problem solving skills (this piece won’t go in this way, but it could fit if it is turned around this way.) Many of the newer puzzles are pretty durable, so they could make for some long-lasting fun!
One of my all-time favorite toys to play with growing up was a magnadoodle. Since this toy provides a completely open canvas, the possibilities are endless for a kiddo to play (and learn). This would be a great way to work on letters, numbers, shapes, colors, identifying pictures, answering questions (I drew a pig. Where does a pig live?), etc. This could also be a great tool to help with developing turn-taking skills.
Of all the toys out there, this is one of my favorites to target pretend play – if a child is having a hard time using their imagination, it could be made into a game to see from other perspectives, such as “I see a dog. What do you see?” This would also be a great toy to use to work on colors and shapes, as well as turn-taking skills and asking and answering social questions (What did you make?) It is overall a great toy that could really encourage some creativity. You’ll probably be surprised all the things your child will come up with!
Kitchen Set/Tea Party/Doll House/Play Farm
Any and all of these toys would be great selections to target pretend play, following directions (“She can wake up, put on her clothes, eat breakfast, and then go to school,”) and general social skills. Additionally, they can help facilitate turn-taking and sharing when an adult or peer is involved. All the potential narration that could happen could really help with language stimulation and could be a great addition to any toy collection!
No matter the toy, one of the most important methods to help with language development is repetition, repetition, repetition!
Emily Bess, M.A., CCC-SLP
If your child isn’t currently a patient at the Applied Behavior Center for Autism and you’re interested in finding out more information, contact us today at 317-849-5437 or go to www.appliedbehaviorcenter.org/get-started/.