This time of year, we often get asked for recommendations for the best toys and games by our clients’ parents. Often, parents of children in speech therapy are eager to buy their children the best toys and games to support speech, language, and social skills at home. Based on these requests, we’re doing a 3 part series on the best toys and games recommended by our team of speech-language pathologists. Up first- the best toys for toddlers!
- Cause and effect toys: these toys are great for emerging communicators. When children are playing with cause and effect toys, they start to understand that what they do has an effect on others, a crucial part of communication with others! Some examples of cause and effect toys are: simple race tracks, ball and hammer toys, pop up animal toys, and light up/music toys with buttons.
- Puzzles: puzzles are great for vocabulary and turn-taking. You can model new words as you do a puzzle with your child. Puzzles are also great for modeling play sounds such as animal sounds, car sounds, and early prepositions such as “on” or “in” and waiting to see if your child will imitate your play sounds or words during play.
- Shape sorters: these are perfect for vocabulary, and requesting. Hold out two shapes to offer your child a choice to see if he wants to put in the “blue” or “red” shape. It’s okay if your child just points or reaches, you can model the word before handing him the shape.
- Books with repetitive phrases: these books are great for emerging communicators, and first word users because using the same words on each page helps your child learn them. Once you read the same phrase many, many times, you can pause to see if your child will fill in the last word of the phrase. This is teaching your child to do her part in the interaction, and helping him/her learn how and when to use those new words.
- Wind up toys: these toys are great because they build in opportunities for communication every time they stop. Often toddlers need help with wind up toys, therefore, it’s a perfect time to work on functional words such as “help” or “go/stop.”
There are so many different ways to use these toys, so get creative! Try something unexpected- this can be a great way to encourage communication! Try stacking the shapes from the shape sorter on top of each other, and then knocking them down, or hiding them around the house and finding them before putting them in the shape sorter. When reading, try using a silly voice or sing the words. When playing with the puzzle, put the pieces on your head, or try putting it in the wrong spot to encourage a response from your child.
We hope you find your toddler some awesome gifts this year that will also support his or her language development, and have fun playing them together! If you don’t have a toddler, don’t worry! In part 2 of our series, we’ll be providing more toy and game suggestions for preschoolers.