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Our Staff's Favorite Toys

When a speech language pathologist tackles a toy wish list, they are often looking for the toys with the least bells and whistles…literally! As you shop this holiday season for all the kids in your life, big and little, we would like to share our staff’s favorites with you. We are selective with the toys in our clinic and the lives of the kids we love. All of the toys selected serve a deeper purpose to developing speech, language, social, and play skills.

Kate: “I’ll go with repetitive books (like 5 Little Monkeys, Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?). Great for literacy awareness, working on attention, and is perfect for our littlest ones who don’t use verbal language yet. It’s amazing how motivating a book is (which they’ve heard several times before) and how often they add in the last word given wait time “Five little monkeys jumping on the …..” It’s also a great activity since many families have books at home! Pair it with some toys/objects that go with the story and you can also work on following directions, answering WH questions, and more!”

Liz: “I love to play with puppets and little people! These engage the kids and provide an opportunity for you to model language skills naturally through story telling or role play. Once the child progresses to speaking, you can hand over the puppet or little person for them to take a turn at it. It’s just so simple and fun! Bonus: use silly voices! They love it!”

Caitlin: “I like using kinetic sand. It has a sensory component, children can position, order, and enclose small loose parts in it, and it’s just a fun engaging way to elicit many speech and language targets.”

Emily: “One of my favorite therapy materials is using the play kitchen because it is so great for promoting spontaneous language and language activities, great for labeling, following directions. Even a play based approach to articulation and speech sound development.”

Kristen: “The race car track! I can target lots of goals including modeling a lot environmental sounds (beep-beep, vroom, whoosh) requesting, commenting, imitating, and social routines.

Gretchen: “The critter clinic! It works well for so many different goals and you can easily make a theme with it or have the kids try and guess what will be behind each door!”

Lauren: “Play doh is my favorite toy to use in therapy. I can easily target several goals including requesting, teaching basic concepts, and describing. Pop the Pig is another favorite of mine for my older kids!

Joy: “The car ramp/track is my favorite toy! Kids of all ages love it and it keeps them engaged while I model speech and language goals. You can use it to target new vocabulary and expand on vocabulary the child is already using.”

These are just a few of our staff’s favorite toys in our office. Listed below are some other shout outs:

Games: so much happening in a simple board game. Some games specifically target and challenge language skills- Twenty Questions, Clue, or Headbands to name a few. These games all challenge the language system by the nature of the game and how it’s played. Other games have embedded targets like turn taking, following a set of rules, learning the art of being a good sport, problem solving, strategy. When selecting a game, think about what your child’s strengths are or what you would like to challenge. Some games even for the proper age listed on the box may be too challenging for those struggling with language. Select a more simple game and work up to more challenging games.

Arts and Crafts: These activities provide an opportunity to use fine motor skills and engage the sensory system in addition to language and speech skills. Stickers, markers, crayons, paint, and clay/play-doh all give endless possibilities to using language to request, comment, and ask questions. While creating alongside your child, be sure to use language at all times to describe and comment on their creation and yours.

Books: no toy list is complete without a few good books! Even if your child isn’t interested in the story yet, you can look at the pictures and label vocabulary. *Remember vocabulary includes verbs, adjectives, and pronouns. As the child progresses in their language skills, start reading the book and even shorten the story if their attention is still waning. Select books without pictures for endless story options! Books are so magical and meaningful to kids!

From all of us at The Speech Spot we hope you and yours have a great holiday season filled with lots of fun! As always please call or email if you want to discuss your child’s speech and language development.


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