Top ten toys
Having fun and playing with your child is a really helpful way of encouraging their speech, language and communication skills. Try having some time playing and chatting with them every day with no distractions. You can use any toys or games that you have already at home.
We have suggested some of our favourite toys for supporting speech, language and communication skills below. Some of these will be better for children who communicate less, and some are more suited to children who understand lots of words and communicate more. Choose the games you play with your child based on what they are interested in and the level they are at.
Dressing up clothes, doctor or vet sets, teddy/dolly tea sets, Playmobile/Happyland… you can use any of these toys to join in with your child’s imaginative play. Talking about imaginative play at the same time helps them to learn new words and develop their creativity.
Messy play helps with lots of areas of children’s development, including their communication skills. Things like water play, sand play, chalk boards, finger painting and playdough all help children to develop their awareness of how things feel. Talking while you play will help your child learn new words for actions (e.g. pour, squash, squeeze, pull, rub), as well as words to describe colours and how things feel.
Inset puzzles have pieces that fit inside holes on a wooden tray or board. Name the pieces as you and your child put them in to help them learn new words. Give them choices between two pieces (“Do you want the car or the fish?”). You can also use words to talk about when things fit or when they’re “too big”, “too small” or “stuck”.
Listening to, and playing, music can help develop your child’s attention and listening skills. These skills are really important for communication skills. Games to try include:
- Dance or clap to the beat of the music
- Copy each other’s tune or rhythm
- Play musical bumps or musical statues
- Drum together: beat out a rhythm together using drums or household objects like pans and spoons.
Repetitive books are books that have the same words and sentences repeated in a pattern. Examples include Dear Zoo, The Gingerbread Man and Where’s Spot?
Don’t be afraid to tell a story more than once, as repetition helps children to understand and remember the words that they hear. Children love to join in with the bits that they remember – try pausing at the end of a line your child knows well to see if they can fill in the missing word.
Simple lotto boards
Lotto boards can help children develop their attention skills and learn words to name things. Talk to them about the pictures they find – name them and talk about colours, size and shape. Slowly increase how much time you spend playing or how many pictures you use. This will help your child pay attention for longer amounts of time.
Colour and shape matching; counting games and activities
Examples of these types of games include Dotty Dinosaurs, Red Dog Blue Dog, marble run, click clack car tracks, Mr Potato Head, Pop up Pirate, Kerplunk, and Lego – but there are many others available as well.
These games can help children learn important words. Talk about the colours and shapes that you can see while you are playing and then later around your home.
Puppets are a great way to develop imagination and story-telling skills in children. Make up stories and act them out with puppets or re-tell familiar stories that you already know.
Coloured bricks and threading beads
Talk about what comes first, second and last while you are putting coloured bricks and threading beads in order with your child. Understanding these sorts of words will eventually help your child to understand more complicated words like first, next, last, before, after, and other words that talk about time.
Playing board games helps children learn how to take turns, which is an important communication skill. Board games also help children to develop their attention skills and to think about other people while they are playing. Children need to be able to understand the rules of board games, so generally these work best for older children.
Rhyming lotto, rhyming books
Having fun with words and rhymes can help children learn skills they need for reading and writing. Talk about rhyming words and sing songs and rhymes with your child too. Thinking about the different sounds in words will help children learn to read and write later on.