Updated: Aug 7, 2019
What was your favorite toy as a kid? If you were a child of the 90's, like me, then we might have the same favorite toy - Beanie Babies. I was obsessed with Beanie Babies. They all had names and we would go on adventures.
I cannot stress enough how important play can be in improving your child's communication skills. And what your child plays with can be important too! Toys can also be use as helpful tools for encouraging communication. Many times, people want to get the new high tech toys with all the bells and whistles, but really the best toys are those that do not involve any technology. The best way for your child to be exposed to language is with good 'ole fashioned non-tech toys.
There was actually a recent study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that compared traditional toys to electronic toys. The report concluded that traditional toys resulted in better child-caregiver interactions and these interactions provided multiple communication-learning opportunities.
Having that knowledge, I try to use non-tech toys during my therapy sessions. Here are my 5 go to toys for speech/language development:
1) Wind-up Toys
I LOVE wind-up toys. The best thing about them is that they are hard for little ones to use (I know it sounds mean). They will usually play around with them and try to wind them up but end up needing to ask for "help". They are also good for targeting certain language categories (e.g. animals, actions).
Play-Doh is another fun one to help develop communication skills.! You can use it for requesting so many different options (e.g. colors, cut-outs, tools). They can also be a great way for children to use language spontaneously for for requesting help or assistance. I once had a group session where all the little ones kept asking for me to make a ball with the Play-Doh. It was simple but such a great session with a ton of language. Just what I like!
I've already talked about bubbles in my previous blog (https://www.rockfordspeechtherapy.com/post/summer-language-fun-with-bubbles), but bubbles can be used year around and are great for requesting and using action words.
4) Critter Clinic
I absolutely love the Critter Clinic! It's designed to be used as a vet hospital, which I do use for that sometimes. But I mainly use it to place animals or other fun toys inside. Kids love using the key to open up doors and put things inside or to open up the doors to see who is hiding there. It's also a tad difficult for little ones to use the key, which creates another opportunity for requesting and communication.
5) Mystery Boxes
Mystery boxes aka containers. That's right - containers. Containers are awesome for eliciting speech and language and I use them all the time. I hide plastic animals, pictures, you name it. It really sometimes doesn't matter what you hide in there. The kids get so excited at what could be in the mystery box that what's in the box doesn't matter in the end. It's great for asking questions, "what's in the box?" or targeting certain vocabulary, such as farm animals. Containers can be boxes, bags, small bags, big bags, tiny containers, plastic eggs - and so much more.
Also, for older children, I love to use board games! Here are some of my favorites.
For more information here is an article from our National Organization below that talks more about the use of non-tech toys. https://blog.asha.org/2019/05/13/the-best-toys-for-slps-are-the-toys-that-do-nothing/
You can also contact me with questions!
Phone: (616) 951-1077