Does your young one get bored with learning unfamiliar words and speaking with you? It’s time to make practice sessions fun and exciting with some toddler toys geared towards speech and language learning!
In This Post You'll Learn About...
- How play-based interactions can help your child’s development
- What are some recommended play styles for early ages, and
- What toys are accessible for home activities
Let’s incorporate play on your child’s learning journey.
How Does Play Help My Child’s Development?
People sometimes think that playtime is only about keeping their children occupied. Did you know playtime can be more?
Playtime can help your child:
- build confidence and independence when interacting with the world
- improve physical and motor skills including hand-eye coordination
- develop emotional and social skills to help express themselves and interact with others
- build cognitive skills and train their memory
These many advantages seem too good to be true. But with the many toys available out there, those claims are definitely possible.
Toddler Toys for Speech and Language Development
Bubbles provide interactions (blowing and popping bubbles) and grab a child’s attention. It’s also a perfect opportunity to introduce turn-taking when making bubbles together.
You can also practice sounds like /p/ (“pop”) and /b/ (“bubble”) and explore more words this way.
2) Cars and Car Ramps
Car ramps are great for addressing motor delays and getting your child involved. Dropping or pushing the car is the major movement and the child can watch the car go as an effect from them dropping it.
Some variations allow you and your child to build the ramps as well. You can also make car sound effects together (“beep beep” or “vroom”) and practice their sounds that way.
Your child may need your help in blowing them up, but you can show how balloons float, bounce, and move. A variety of words can be introduced with balloons, like colours (“Watch that green balloon!“).
4) Toy Blocks
Blocks are very versatile toys. Your child can both build it up and knock it down! Depending on the make, some blocks also have letters or pictures on the surfaces. These are excellent tools for labelling and introducing words and ideas.
5) Shape Sorter
Shape sorters are extremely versatile must-have toys. The process of trying to fit the right shape in the right place can help with their cognitive skills and motor skills.
You can also do this together and it is a great way to introduce new words (shapes, colors, and particular object words).
6) Modelling Clay
Clay is very important for introducing multi-sensory experiences to toddlers. Working with clay is a very relaxing experience for them, and they have the creative freedom to mould it to whatever shape they choose.
Making shapes or impressions in the clay is good for introducing words such as objects and colours.
7) Musical Instruments
You can add music to playtime by introducing instruments like toy drums and pianos. Introducing music and letting your child take part will help with their language development.
They’ll develop their motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Exposing them to fresh sounds can help with auditory and listening skills, too.
Puzzles can introduce opportunities for collaborative communication. You can either give them one piece at a time or wait a few seconds for them to ask for the next.
It is also a way to give small instructions (“Put that piece next to this piece”) or ask questions (“Can you find the red piece?”). You can also explore vocabulary with various colours or sizes of puzzle pieces.
9) Balls of Varying Sizes
One of the simplest toys you can get are balls of different sizes and kinds. You can introduce different activities like passing the ball back and forth (to model turn-taking) and putting balls in different buckets/boxes (to introduce describing words).
Balls can also target specific speech sounds, such as /b/ for “ball”, but there are other ways to introduce other sounds and words to them.
10) Stacking and Nesting Cups
Stacking cups are fun to build and knock down. It will give your toddler a fresh challenge compared to nesting blocks, and you can take turns with them to teach attention and wait for their turn.
These cups aren’t just stacking. You can hide objects under the cups and ask them where the items are. They can add small objects to their vocabulary by naming them.
How Do I Choose Toys for My Toddler?
Toys that encourage your child to speak up or express themselves better are one of the great ones to choose. Open-ended toys that encourage different styles of play and creativity for new ways to play are good too!
One of the key tips about choosing toys in general is to go for the basics, and not to overwhelm your child. Blocks and simple toys can go a long way and are far more helpful than battery-operated ones.
11) Puppets / Finger Puppets
Puppets can help introduce other characters into your playtime! Your toddler’s new friend can give you a new perspective on how to interact with your child. For example, an animal character can encourage your child to make animal noises.
Adding a personality that your child will love (like sharing similar favourites) can help bring this new friend to life and teach key language skills along the way.
12) Dress-Up Clothes and Accessories
Themed clothing can help your child change their perspective to a particular role or situation. They can be a firefighter, a superhero, or a silly dog.
These roles will help you create language opportunities and social scenarios where your child is the main character.
13) Specific Pretend Toys
Other than dress up, pretend toys can also help with the immersion and give opportunities for speech. They can be based on an occupation (doctor’s set) or a place (restaurant) and other similar situational toys.
You can introduce names for the different objects and also common sound effects associated with those toys. For example, you can mimic animal sounds when playing with a farm toy set.
14) Toy Phone
We use our language skills a lot when talking on the phone. Bringing in a toy phone will help your child mimic using it, and you can also help them simulate how that works.
You can also help them play pretend by creating situations (like ordering pizza), learn how to take turns when speaking.
15) Small Trampoline
Small trampolines can encourage your child to move around and is a great way to keep practice sessions more interesting. They are also portable and easy to stow away when not needed. Jumping around can be an enjoyable break in between learning. It can also be used to practice words such as “up”, “jump” and “more”.
16) Ride-on Toys
Add a bit of exercise and outdoor time with ride-on toys. These toys encourage exploration in a fun way while also giving them something different to do. It will help them learn to manipulate these toys to create movement and provide more of a challenge with gross and fine motor skills.
Ride-on toys are good for independent play but they can also make walks together more interesting for your child.
17) Basketball Hoop
You can also introduce basketball at a young age to add variety to speech and articulation practice. Having activities in between learning sessions is good for avoiding monotony. Basketball is also a very social game, where they can play with you or other kids, getting used to using their body for exercise and for gestures.
18) Wind-Up Toys
Wind-up toys are very engaging and essential toys for therapy at home. They have an obvious cause (winding up) and effect (movement/sounds) where your child can expect the outcome and practice waiting.
Your child can also wind the toys themselves, working on those fine motor skills along the way.
19) Stuffed Animals
Why not add more friends to your child’s playtime? Despite popular opinion, baby dolls and stuffed animals can be excellent toys for all genders, and can be a key tool for speech and language skills. Stuffed toys can represent characters or people that your child can interact with and talk to. You can also model how to interact with these toys, like taking care of them or feeding them.
How Speech Therapy Can Help
Toys are amazing additions to playtime, but your interactions with your child matter more than any toy money can buy.
If you’re lost on how to be your toddler’s best playmate, a speech therapist can help! They can bring in tips and techniques to help your child talk and listen better, become a better learner, and grow into an outstanding person.
Your Speech-Language Pathologist can help you find the best ways to use your toys at home. They can also help find the right toys and materials based on your child’s progress.
With their guidance, you’ll learn how to catch learning opportunities and make the most out of them. They can help make playtime more enjoyable for you both.
If you’d like to learn more about working with a Speech-Language Pathologist, why not get in touch? You’ll fill out a quick questionnaire from us so that we can understand your needs.