There are toys that entertain and there are those that aid in speech articulation. Leading speech-language pathologists (SLPs) have been searching for the best toys for speech development, and they have found that there are certain toys that get kids to talk more. These include toys that require sitting on the floor or on a mat, setting up miniature towns and farms, and being busy with the hands.
This makes modeling compounds and clay, painting, and playhouses great tools to get children to appreciate language and communication. Talking and musical toys are also ideal for language-building. The same goes with art activities. It’s important to have a variety of toys at your disposal so your kids don’t get bored.
Keeping your child engaged is essential, but it’s also important to be present physically and mentally while he or she is at play. While our recommended list of toys has been carefully selected, each toy may have different effects on children. Observe your child’s reaction to toys to see if these help.
At SpeechTails, our mission has always been to provide parents and fellow SLPs with a vast resource of tools, coaching materials, and ideas for speech therapy. We highly suggest that you explore our online speech therapy system and answer our free Speech Screener.
Here is a list of my favorite toys to use as tools during speech sessions.
One important note: Parents should play with the child during these activities. This gives the child models for the language. If they play with these toys without the parent modeling, they are less likely to put the language skills together.
- “Mr. Potato Head”
Great for identifying body parts, describing items.
- “Play houses/Fisher Price House:”
talking about rooms, what people are doing in each room, what goes into what rooms?
- “Farms/Fisher Price Farm:”
Animal sounds; environmental sounds (tractor, etc.), where the animals are, some in fence, some out of fence.
- “Combine a farm with miniature counting animal sets”
(you can usually find these at learning stores). Children like to put all of the cows in one area, etc. I like that you can talk about big/little, colors, types of animals, etc.
- “Garage/Fisher Price Garage”
Environmental noises that go with cars, trucks, etc. Movement of cars and people within them. I like to set up a town with the different items and go back and forth to different activities.
- “Play mat for cars/towns/etc”
There are many versions of these, from carpets to plastic mats. I like to use these mats with miniature counting transportation sets (most learning shops carry these). This is a great way to categorize vehicles based on color, size, or type. Children love that you are sitting on the floor, playing with them and talking.
Children love to be busy with hands, make animals or funny faces. TIP: put together with Mr. Potato Head and make great, silly faces!
Most of the time, painting paper, rocks, wood, anything gets children talking.
Giving ANYTHING a bath (even if it is in the sink) gets children talking. Wash Barbie, cars, dishes, whatever! Don't forget to talk about what it is that you are washing. This is a great outdoor activity with the hose.