Top Toys for Increasing Speech and Language Skills this Holiday

By Randi Fried | Toy Guides

Dec 03

I’m so excited to refresh and renew our toy collection this Holiday Season.  Here are a few of my top toys the can help bring hours of fun and speech/language learning into your home.

I love [SpinAgain] because there are multiple pieces that I can hold onto to encourage a child to request.  I can work on requesting the word or sign “more” or the noun “gear”. We can build up to phrases “I want gear” and questions, “Can I have the gear?”  I can also, work on simple yes/no questions: “do you want the gear?” or “Should I put the gear on my head”. Finally, you can work on concepts like big/small, on/off, and colors.  Kids love watching the spinning gears go down the rod so they are highly motivated by this toy.

If you like these, I’d try the Spoolz by Fat Brain Toys, too.  It’s a fun stacking toy that kids will be eager to try over and over again.   The Roll Again Tower by Fat Brain Toys is another great toy that I can’t wait to try; you can use to encourage requests, too.

SpinAgain

Spoolz

Roll Again Tower

I really like to change out the foods in our play kitchen to add variety to our pretend play.  This year I plan to add this snack food set because what kid doesn’t like snacks?! Also, I love that it comes with re-sealable bags for the snack foods. There are so many language-learning opportunities.  First, we can sort the foods into the correct bags. Then we can count the foods. Of course, we can pretend to eat the foods and have a snack party with friends. But, what I am really looking forward to is mixing up the foods or putting other items into the bags to surprise my little one.  I may put toy spiders in one bag, and small balls in another. This will offer us new things to talk about. Also, we will need to problem solve to find the right snacks.

I also, really like the Smoothie Blender Maker Set by Melissa & Doug.  This set offers opportunities to cut foods and follow directions to make different smoothies.

Store & Serve Snack Food Set

Smoothie Blender MaKer Set

We got our first set of Magna-Tiles a few years ago for Hanukkah and every year since we have been adding to our collection.  This is the number one toy in our house for all ages. This year I plan to add the “Magna-Tiles House Set”. I look forward to adding stairs and doors.  I also, like the reusable stickers to increase vocabulary.

Magna-Tiles are great for working on language skill.  You can hold back pieces to work on requests. Magna-Tiles also offers many opportunities for problem-solving. You can work on concepts like big/little, colors, and shapes.  You can build structures and hide objects inside to work on labeling. You can also work on ‘where’ questions by putting different objects in, on, next to, in front, or behind structures you build.

Magna-Tiles

This is a game, a stacking toy, and a peek-a-boo set.  It says for 2 +, but you could start using it as a stacking toy earlier and work up to taking turns in a game of “Where’s Bear?

Each stacking box represents a room in a house.  They have great pictures that you can use to help your child label or identify.  For an older child, you could work on naming 3 things you find in a specific room (i.e. Tell me three things you find in a bedroom?).   This game is also great for question answering and question formulation. As the parent, you can ask your child a yes/no question about where the bear is hidden (i.e. Is bear in the kitchen?) or you can work on ‘where’ questions.  Find other animals or people figurines and ask “where” or “who” questions (i.e. “who’s in the kitchen?”). This toy has so many possibilities.

I also like the other early game by Peaceable Kingdom.  They teach early turn-taking skills and they are quick and motivating for the child who isn’t ready to sit for a longer game.  Acorn Soup is great for following a sequence of directions and Bunny Bedtime is good for making choices and sequencing.

Where's Bear?

Bunny Bedtime

[Slapzi] is fast and fun to play with older children.  I like the realistic photos on the cards and the prompts on the clue cards are great for categorizing items in new ways.  Slow down the game or play on the same team as your child to help increase word finding and categorization skills. Try to find as many pictures as you can for a clue (i.e. how many things can we find that are “often found in the garage” (lawnmower, work gloves, bucket, skateboard, hose etc.).  You can also use the picture cards separately to label common and uncommon objects or use the clue cards to labels items in a category without the pictures.

Slapzi

These are some of my current favorite toys to help with speech and language development. When I look for new toys, I try to find toys that don’t make too much noise; that way your child and you can do the talking and make sounds.  I also look for toys that are open-ended and can be used in many different ways. I look for some toys that help encourage cooperative play and others that will help encourage independent play. Finally, I look for toys that will help expand and build my kids interests.

About the Author

Randi is wife and mother to three kids aged 12, 10 and 4. She was born and raised in West Bloomfield where she is currently a stay-at-home mom to provide language rich activities for her youngest, who has Autism. Prior to making the switch to full time mommy, Randi was a pediatric speech pathologist for the past 15 years.