15 Toys to Help Your Child Speak: Navigating Our Daughter’s Speech Delay One Toy at a Time
If you read our latest post, you know that our daughter, Cassidy, has a Speech Delay. While we owe a lot of her current success to the help of early intervention and speech therapy, I also have to give credit to the tools (or better yet, toys) that have helped us break through and see some real results. As with anything in life, repetition and engagement are so important to do and have if you want to learn a new skill. It is for this reason that I wanted to tell you all of our favorite toys that we have found have worked best in capturing Cassidy’s attention, spark that engagement and most importantly, teach her to speak.
Regardless of it your little one is speech delayed or not, below are our absolute favorite toys that will for sure help you increase their learning of language while playing.
Mr. Potato Head
Mr. Potato head probably has been a fan favorite for over 50 years and its easy to see why. It is truly great for so many activities and concepts. Not only is a great way to introduce body parts but it is also great for teaching to “put it on,” “take it off,” “put the shoes on”, etc. Additionally, you can use Mr Potato so demonstrate verbs, point out colors (“he is wearing blue shoes”), and even show how to take turns as you place each part.
I love Play-doh because it can be used for so many different things. Demonstrating colors, sizes, and verbs, the sensory nature of it really captures Cassidy attention. For us personally, I like to use it to get Cassidy to work on requesting “more,” seeing that it can be go in/out of its tub, matching colors to each top, and then even pretend play. We make balls, we roll it, we smash it, we cut it, we pretend it is a yummy piece of cake, and so much more.
Shape Sorting Cube
I love pretty much everything Melissa & Doug puts out and with a love of Winnie the Pooh, this was a total must have. Not only is it totally adorable but it offers so much variety when it comes to lessons. Shapes, colors, counting, and so much more. I love being able to ask “where is Pooh’s nose?” While some of the shapes are still a bit advanced and tougher to say, it will continue to grow with her and come in handy as she gets older.
Pound & Ball Roller
This is a classic. I know I had something similar as a kid and for being so simple, it was so exciting to play with. From colors to verbs, this is another great hands on toy that allows for your child to see cause & effect and work on piecing words together.
Pop the Pig
This is a tool our speech therapist loves to use for a multitude of reasons. Even though it at first seems like a more advanced toy for toddlers, you can easily simplify it. Another great cause & effect tool, you can show how the pig “eats,” how it “pops,” how it “opens” or “closes.” Additionally this is a great tool to help show how to take turns feeding the pig while working to further improve those fine motor skills by using the spatula to load them in his mouth.
Before Spencer arrived, and even after, this has been a great way to communicate with Cassidy regarding her new sibling. With her doll, she can help “feed” the baby, “burp” the baby, and even put the baby down to sleep and say “night, night.” Definitely a must have if you are pregnant or might ever be with your little one around.
Because Cassidy is a more hands on learner, I have to get creative to try teaching without overwhelming her. This was a recent easter basket gift that has been great for teaching colors and words like “on/off” or even shapes if you draw them. I love that I can do this during our regular bath time and she doesn’t know any different. She loves them!
These aren’t the exact puzzles we own but rather we have ones with Disney characters instead. We have a huge Mickey Mouse Clubhouse fan here so that helps get her to focus. Despite this, puzzles are another hands on way to teach shapes, animals, or anything the might be in the shape of. For us, Cassidy has really gotten down the names of all Mickey’s show, such as Pluto, Donald and Minnie.
From colors, counting, and more, I have seen people use this piggy bank in so many way to teach kids new fine motor skills and words. While I’ll admit the sounds are a bit obnoxious, kids love seeing how they can put a coin “in” and hear the sound that results. Additionally, if you google this bank and being used with speech, there are so many blogs out there that give cool new ideas for how to change them up based on the lesson you want to teach.
Pretend Cutting Food Set
This was a Christmas gift for Cassidy this previous year and it has been a great toy for not only pretend play but also for increasing her vocabulary of fruits, colors, and verbs like “cut.”
I love using bubbles with Cassidy and it seems so do our speech and early intervention therapist. It really is a fun and great way to get kids to participate and try. Seriously, with blowing bubbles I have noticed how easy it is to quickly gain and hold a child’s attention or calm or engage a fussy child. Our infant son loves them. Best of all bubbles are inexpensive and can be used anywhere. For us, bubbles are a great way to teach “your turn/my turn.” It has also been a great tool for us to get more communication opportunities and teach things like more, again, want, pop, blow, dip, all done, up, down, in, out, on, off, and me. Lastly, for Cassidy specifically with developing pronunciation, perfecting words like “pop” are awesome for her to strengthen her “p” sounds.
I know this may not be a common one you’d think of but if you at all have a child who is a fan of a movie, show or book, it may be worth looking to see if there are figurines you can get. Cassidy loves pretty much all things Disney and Pixar so we have entire collections from Monster Inc, Moana, Fancy Nancy, Toy Story and more. Since she recognizes them from the TV she has started to pretend play more, say their actual names and even repeat catch phrases like “reach for the sky” or “to infinity and beyond.” Seriously, its incredible.
These simple toys are deceptively amazing, and can be used for some many things/ concepts. For us, stacking cups have been great to help teach size, big and small, or big, bigger, biggest. I’ve also used these to show turn taking, teach and reinforce colors, and counting. Cassidy loves counting from 1-10 and then knocking them down, which in turn has led to her learning words like ” uh-oh,” “down,” and “all done.”
First Words Flash Cards
For less than $5 on amazon, I have 3 different sets of these flashcards and let me tell you, Cassidy loves them and has learned so many new words because of them. Since she can see exactly what word we are asking her to repeat, she has quickly been able to memorize and retain that information. Apple is probably her new favorite word, in addition to “baby,” “pebble,” “shoes,” and “ball.” From colors, shapes, to animals, there are tons of variations of these cards. Plus, with a touch & feel aspect, your little one can once again get hands on.
Lastly, books are always a great way to teach kids new words but not all books are created the same. For those first learning, it is best to start with simple, illustrated books that have repetition. Personally, when we pick a book, we will continue to read it nightly for at least 2 weeks before switching. At this point, Cassidy has heard and started memorizing that she will fill in the blanks as we read. Currently, our top 4 favorites are “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?”, “The Pout Pout Fish,” “The Going to Bed Book,” and then “The First 100 Words.”