There are so many toys out there claiming to help children learn language and get them talking. However, when it comes to language development toys, less really is more. You don't need to spend a fortune buying flashy, noisy toys. In fact, these types of toys don't encourage kids to talk as they do all the talking for them.
There are loads of toys out there but here is a few of our favorites that you probably already own and ideas of games you can play...
Bubbles are a great resource for targeting speech and language skills because they’re super motivating - you can target pretty much anything and use bubbles as a reward for saying the target sound, word, sign etc.
🔸REQUESTING: Blow a few bubbles then put the wand back in. When they’ve popped wait for a sign that the child wants more (a look, a point, noise etc depending on the level they’re at). Ask “more bubbles?”. Repeat this over and over.
🔸CONCEPTS: Now this takes a little bit of practice (Easier if you have a wand with difference size holes). Ask your child if they want “big bubbles or little bubbles”. Then comment on the bubbles “wow big!!” “look at the little bubbles”
🔸VOCAB: Pop, more, gone, up, down, big, little, wet, blow, open, close
BUILDING BLOCKS 🔸Turn Taking: Build a tower, fill a box or get a bucket with some water in and drop the blocks in one at a time. Prompt your child to give you a turn “Mummy’s turn”. Keep the turns short so they can see that they will get their turn again quickly. Give them lots of praise when they wait. 🔸Requesting: Take turns building a tower but keep the blocks back. When your child wants a block, encourage them to request more. If they’re not ready to ask verbally yet, say ‘more?’ and wait for an indication (eye contact, reach etc). 🔸Position words: Watch your child playing with blocks and comment on what they’re doing. Keep your language simple. If they’re stacking you could say ‘up’ every time they place a block. Then, when the tower falls say ‘down’. 🔸Pretend Play: Blocks are also a useful toy to develop play skills as they can be used to represent other things in play. A block can be a phone, bricks for a house or a road for cars.
🔸TURN TAKING: Turn taking is a really important social skill and a fundamental part of communication. Research shows that the more a child participates in back-and-forth interactions, the more activity they have in the part of the brain responsible for language production and processing. Take turns rolling the ball to each other. Use phrases like ‘my turn’ ‘your turn’ ‘daddy’s turn’ ‘CHILD NAME’s turn’.
🔸ATTENTION & LISTENING: Build up your child’s attention by waiting longer to roll it back. Roll the ball in to something or through something and say ‘ready steady’ then pause before you say GO!’ This will also encourage vocalisations as your child may try to fill in ‘go’ for you.
🔸LOCATION WORDS (Prepositions)- Practice throwing the ball in to a bin or basket. Talk about the ball going ‘IN’. Celebrate the ball going in and repeat ‘IN the basket yay!’. You can also play hide and seek with the ball. Put the ball under a chair and talk about where it is. Older children can take turns to hide the ball. Ask your child to put the ball ‘under the table’ or ‘behind the hoover’.
🔸VOCAB- go, stop, colours, roll, concepts (big ball, little ball), more, again, pronouns (my, your, me, you)