There are some wonderful toys out there that are fantastic for supporting children’s speech and language development. Most of them you will probably be able to find in your existing toy collection! The great thing nowadays is that you don’t need to break the bank to make sure your child has variety in their toy collection. We are blessed with wonderful toy libraries and charity shops are little treasure troves for toys so if you don’t have the toy that you’re looking for in your child’s own collection and you don’t want to buy new, why not check these out first.
It can be difficult to know which toys are most helpful for supporting speech, language and communication development so we’ve put our favourites below for you:
Pretend Play Toys
Pretend play is great for developing children’s imagination and language skills. Playing with toys is the basis of symbolic understanding (toys are symbols for real things) which underpins language development, as words are more abstract symbols for real things.
Simply commenting on the vocabulary (what they are playing with, what they are doing etc) offers a great language learning opportunity for children.
Inset puzzles are great for building your child’s vocabulary, interaction skills and giving them a reason to communicate. You can talk about the vocabulary (e.g. “lemon, you’ve got a lemon”), put the pieces in a bag and take them out one by one encouraging interaction or offer them a choice of two (teaching them to request).
Musical Instruments and noise makers are great for helping children to learn concepts. You can model language such as same/different, fast/slow, noisy/quiet and help them to fine tune their listening and discrimination skills.
There are lots of different types of lotto games that are really helpful for language development. Listening lottos help children to listen and discriminate between sounds by asking them to listen and match a sound to a picture. There are also colour and shape matching lotto boards which are great for helping children to learn these concepts. We have a number of Animal Listening Lotto games to play in our members area.
Turn Taking Games
Commercial motivator games such as Pop up Pirate, Hanging Monkeys and Fishing Games help children to learnt to share and take turns. There is often a colour or shape element to the toys as well (e.g. Pop up Pirate has different colour swords) so you can use these opportunities to model language concepts as well.
Small World Toys
Small world toy sets are great for open-ended play and for concentrating on helping your child learn vocabulary sets.
Small world toys include farm sets, cars and garages, trains etc. They naturally provide lots of opportunities for modelling nouns (labelling words such as animal names) and symbolic noises (e.g. ‘brrmm’ for a car or ‘moo’ for a cow) but also allow you to talk about action words, location words, and a range of basic concepts (size, shape, colour, number etc).
Building blocks, bricks and stacking toys are great for encouraging children to develop their problem solving skills and offer range of language concepts to talk about, including location words, size, colour, numbers etc.
This is so versatile and allows for so much creativity with language modelling. You can use it to focus on modelling new vocabulary for your child or make it into a barrier or instruction game where you child needs to following directions to produce a play dough shape or model. Concepts of colour, size, shape and location can also be modelled easily in play dough activities.
For more ways to make the most out of play, our Language Enrichment Booster in our members area offers further advice, strategies and activities in a four week plan.