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Toys to Help with Language Development for Toddlers and Preschoolers

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The best toys to help with language development are those that lend themselves to interactive play. It’s really the communication that happens while playing with the toy that is so important.

These are all toys that I’ve used for speech-language therapy or with my own child. Hope you enjoy this list!

 

(This post contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended.)

Seek-A-Boo Game

Why I like it:

Seek-a-Boo is a game that is made for toddlers and preschoolers (18 months and up), which makes it a great first board game. It plays like a “Memory” card game, except this game has large circles with photographs of beginning vocabulary that you can put face-down on the floor.  This allows little ones to get up and move around, looking for the match to the smaller picture you show them.

I modify this game for Sylvie by just putting down 3-5 circles at a time instead of covering the whole floor. You can also make it easier it by putting pictures face-up to start so that it is more of a matching game than a “memory” game. As your child grows, you can make it more challenging. This one is a hit at our house!

How to Use as a Language Development Toy:

Indoor Scavenger Hunt Cards

 

Why I like it:

These scavenger hunt cards make for a perfect rainy day activity that will still get the wiggles out – and work on vocabulary! I love that kids can work on matching words/pictures to real-life items that might look a little different than the picture. There’s also a park version of the scavenger hunt cards if you’d rather take the activity outdoors!

 

“What Comes Next?” Puzzle to Teach Sequencing

 

Why I like it:

This puzzle is a great language development toy, and easy on the wallet as well! Each group of three puzzle pieces is “self-correcting” so your child always puts them in the right order.

How to Use this Toy to Help with Language Development:

 

Bear Sees Colors Book

 

Why I like it:

Reading with your child is wonderful for so many reasons, but I love this book in particular because the color-focused picture scenes can be very interactive. It’s great for getting your child to combine two-words like “blue fish” and for early sentence building such as “I see a blue flower.” I often will say, “I see a blue fish. What do you see?” This offers your child a model of a complete sentence and allows for turn-taking (an important building-block for conversation!)

How to Use this Toy to Help with Language Development:

  • Learn colors
  • Learn how to structure simple sentences, “I see a. . . “
  • Combine two words “color + item”
  • Take turns saying what you see in the picture scenes
  • Build vocabulary for unique animals: raven, badger, mole, hare, and gopher
  • To read reviews and order on Amazon.com click here

 

RELATED: How I use Bear Sees Colors for Language Development (for parents)

RELATED: Using Bear Sees Colors in Speech Therapy (for Therapists)

Magna-Tiles

Why I like it:

Magna-Tiles are on my list to buy this year for Sylvie. Really, I want to play with them – they are just so cool! I have heard that pairing them with a light table is really neat too. They are translucent tiles that have magnets around the edges so that they are easy for little ones to construct with. There are sooo many possibilities of things to build, so they are much more interesting than regular blocks. They have amazing reviews on Amazon too! (Warning: They are on the pricey-side.)

UPDATE: I ended up getting this brand of magnet tiles instead for my daughter for Christmas right before she turned 4. They are her favorite toy; this purchase has resulted in hours of imaginative play. The tiles we bought are about half the price and are holding up really well. Check them out here.

How to Use for Language Development:

  • Learn location concepts: top, bottom, side, left, right
  • Learn shapes, colors and size (big/little)
  • Use shape words to label pieces (triangle, square, rectangle) then use 3-D shape words to label creations (cube, pyramid)
  • Work on using descriptors to ask for pieces from a partner, “Can I have a little, red triangle?”
  • Magna-tiles can be a cooperative-play activity or for independent play
  • To read reviews and order on Amazon.com click here

 Nesting Blocks

 

Why I like this toy to help with language development:

These blocks are so fun for little people because they make an awesome “crash” sound when they fall! Each side has different vocabulary such as animals, colors, numbers and shapes. (And I love the neutral colors in these.)

How to Use for Language Development:

  • Use the “expectant pause” to work on first words such as “ready, set . . . go!”
  • Build vocabulary for animals, shapes, and colors
  • Learn animal sounds
  • Turn taking
  • Concepts “on” and “up”

To read reviews and order on Amazon.com click here.

 

RELATED READ: How to Use Stacking Blocks to Encourage Language Development

Hello! Magazine for Babies and Toddlers

Why I like it:

One way to foster a love a reading is to get your baby/toddler excited about books and reading from a very early age. Did you know that Highlights Magazine (yep, the one you used to read in the dentist’s office as a kid) now makes a special magazine called “Hello”  just for 0-2 year-old kiddos? The pages are made out a plastic-y material and they are the perfect size to stash in your diaper bag.

There’s something really special for kids about getting something in the mail! You can subscribe to Hello! Magazine by clicking here (you can also find Highlights for other ages too!).

How to Use for Language Development:

  • Foster an early love for reading
  • Learn vocabulary by theme (Issues focus on different themes such as Nature, About Me, Transportation, etc.)
  • Matching (every issue has a “Find It” page – that’s Sylvie’s FAVORITE part of the magazine)

 

RELATED READ: How to Raise a Little Bookworm

Wooden Puzzles

Why I like them:

Wooden puzzles are durable and easy for little hands to manipulate. As your child is learning how to solve a new puzzle, it’s a great time to make it an interactive play experience by talking about the pieces, having your child request pieces, and helping him figure out how to manipulate the piece to make it fit. These Melissa and Doug puzzles have hidden pictures under the puzzle pieces for added fun and more vocabulary to learn!

How to Use for Language Development:

  • Build vocabulary
  • Work on requesting by asking for “more” (beginning level) or by asking of for the piece by name
  • Concepts – numbers, letters, colors (depending on the puzzle)
  • Directional concepts: Turn around, upside down
  • For the alphabet puzzle, see if your preschooler can name other things that start with that sound
  • To read reviews and order on Amazon.com click here

RELATED READ: Recommended Puzzles + Puzzle Activities by Age

Mr. Potato Head

Why I like it:

Mr. Potato Head is a classic toy that speech therapists use all the time! He’s silly looking and targets learning the basic body parts, two things that little kids love – Win Win!

How to Use for Language Development:

RELATED: How to Get Your Toddler Talking Using Mr. Potato Head

 

 

Sticker Books/Art Supplies

(To read reviews and order on Amazon.com click on the image above)
 

Why I like it:

My little one could play with stickers all day if I let her. Not only are stickers great for building vocabulary, but they are awesome for fine motor skills too!

How to Use for Language Development:

  • Build vocabulary
  • Have your child ‘hunt’ for a particular sticker on the sheet
  • Use descriptive words: big truck, green car, dirty digger, etc.
  • Work on location words: “Put the heart next to the star.”

RELATED: Step-by-Step Guide to Using Coloring and Stickers to Encourage Language Development

Play Kitchen

 

Why I like it:

This is the play kitchen we have – I won’t lie, it did take a little while to assemble – but my daughter (and her cousin) love it! It is great for pretend play, language memory (taking menu orders from others), and social skills.

How to Use for Language Development:

  • Following directions – tell your little one what you’d like to eat and they can make it!
  • Work on pretend play – this can be as simple as pretending to eat or as complex as making a picnic for friends (or stuffed animal friends!)
  • Learn describing words – talk about how the food looks, smells, feels (hot/cold), etc.
  • To read reviews and order on Amazon.com click here

RELATED READ: Baby Gift Ideas

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