As a speech pathologist, and as a blog writer for Speech Blubs, I get asked questions pretty regularly about what toddler games, books and apps parents can use at home to work on speech and language skills.
These materials will target children who have been diagnosed with a speech delay, but can also be used for kids who have articulation deficits (can’t produce the sounds necessary for clear speech).
From SLP’s Practice to Your Home
If you have been reading my blogs, you know that I’m a mom of a 3 year old girl, Nora and a 7 month old little boy, Nicholas.
A lot of these items I have purchased for my children as a way to build their language and vocabulary. My daughter is “typical” and has speech that is considered “advanced” for her age and my son, well … my son just likes to scream and be held at this point, BUT his speech is on target for his age (e.g., vowel sounds, blowing, and using his voice).
I’m mentioning this to you because I know how important it is as a parent to see your child be successful AND be able to communicate. The items have helped, not only my children, but the students that I work with in early intervention and at the private practice.
Toddler Games for Speech Development
1. Sneaky Snacky Squirrel
Sneaky Snacky Squirrel is a game that is geared towards kids who are 3+ and who are preparing for preschool. No reading is required, which is great! It teaches your child colors, direction following, and turn taking skills. You can also work on counting because they have to have a certain number of acorns to win the games.
2. Pop the Pig
Pop the Pig is a game that teaches counting, numbers, colors and basic vocabulary. You keep feeding the pig different objects (a chance to teach vocabulary) and pushing on his belly until he “pops.” The number of times you push his belly is dependent on the number you roll on the die.
3. Hi Ho Cherry-O
Hi Ho Cherry-O is a very common preschool game that I use frequently with my daughter. This game teaches counting, turn taking, color identification and even early addition and subtraction skills. It’s very similar to the Sneaky Snacky Squirrel game, but with cherries.
4. What’s in the Cat’s Hat
What’s in the Cat’s Hat is another great game by Dr. Seuss. They have created a bunch of cool games for kids, but this one is my favorite as a mom and therapist. It works on asking questions, memory and recall, turn-taking, following directions and deductive reasoning. These are all important skills that kids will need to throughout pre-k, kindergarten and entering elementary school.
Toddler Books for Speech Development
1. Duck and Goose
Duck and Goose by Tad Hills is a great book to encourage speech in young children. These two are always up to something and encouraging a LOT of language along the way. (Bonus? They have really dry senses of humor which I totally love and appreciate.)
These books always target early language skills like spatial concepts and yes/no questions to name a few without being a book solely dedicated to those concepts. There’s typically a problem/solution situation which makes for great sequencing, retelling and predicting opportunities for toddlers.
2. Touch and feel books
Touch and feel books have been around FOREVER, but they have to be on this list. They have real life pictures, minimal words and texture opportunities out the wazoo to increase vocabulary, answering “WH” questions, describing and stating opinion.
3. Priddy Baby Books
Priddy Baby Books are my go-to books as a mom and traveling speech therapist. When I was doing early intervention I recommended them to every single family, and they were (almost) the only books I would take into homes.
Books are divided into categories and come in a couple of “first words” editions, too. Bonus? They use real pictures in all their books. My daughter still loves telling us the words for the pictures and wouldn’t give up her book so we had to buy Nicholas his own *insert eye roll.*
4. Your Baby’s First Word Will be Dada
Your Baby’s First Word Will be Dad by Jimmy Fallon is a new book that I just got my son for Christmas. Not only is Jimmy Fallon super funny, but it turns out his book is great for teaching animal names and sounds, big/small, yes/no questions and a repeated word.
5. Finger play book/songs
Finger play book/songs are super great and there are tons of different options out there. These ones are my daughter’s favorite. In fact, we have about 4 “Wheels on the Bus” sound books because they all do different things. You can’t go wrong with whichever one you pick!
On top of these — Speech Blubs is your child’s best learning buddy
The Speech Blubs app is a learning tool that helps pre-school kids jump start their speaking. This SLP-approved app is based on the science of mirror neurons and video modeling to get kids speaking.
Parents also like it because it offers quality smart screen time. Parents can engage with their child, let him/her be in charge and practice with them on a regular basis, role play like there’s no tomorrow, take lots of pictures, and bribe their child with digital candy.
Speech Blubs has 25 sections with over 1,500 activities (including new words weekly, building sentences, numbers, colors, songs, etc.), and most importantly, it includes children in the videos.
“The child is more engaged using this for speech activities than if I was to model the sounds myself. The use of children in it to model sound and oral motor sounds is much more engaging for your little one.”
The practical ways parents use it include:
- drawing the words with your kid
- singing songs
- finding the words in your toy box, in the kitchen, in the playground
- using it on the go
- and even creating a before-going-to-school routine.
You’ll see, kids become very engaged! Speech Blubs will help turn your child’s vocalizations into babble (we call them “blubs”), and then into words!
Stacie Bennett has been practicing as a Speech-Language Pathologist for the past ten years. Currently, she works full-time at a vocational high school in New Jersey and have her own private practice. Feel free to contact Stacie if you have any questions!