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Let's Play: the speech and language way

Speech and language therapy ideas for playing at home

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Stocking Stuffer Ideas from a Speech Therapist

The gifts under the tree tend to be the focus when thinking about Christmas presents, but the stocking stuffers can be just as fun and meaningful.   

Thinking about ideas for children who are learning to talk?  Here are some stocking stuffers that may help with speech and language development:

(This post contains Amazon affiliate links which means I may potentially earn a small fee based on qualifying sales.)

Bubbles – Check out this link for play ideas with bubbles

Wind-up toys – One of my favorite toys that requires minimal attention span with a fun incentive!  Check out this link for using wind-up toys to help little ones ask for help.

Voice changer – Anything that gets little ones interested in using their voice is a winner with me!  You might just want to start with blowing or “aaahh”.

Basic flashlight – A flashlight in a darkened room can help keep your little one’s interest so that you can “find” things and stay on the same topic!  Check out this link to indoor activities for some flashlight play ideas.

Whistles, horns, kazoos, harmonicas, trumpets, party blowers – Again, anything that gets the mouth moving wins!  Take turns, have a parade, or just put it out of reach so they can ask for it again.

Playdough – Check out this link for play ideas with playdough

Stickers – A non-messy way to be creative…or to just stick a bunch of pictures on some paper (or the wall, the doors, the furniture…ha!)  Just be sure to name the stickers as you peel them off.

Bath books or small board books – Check out this link for play ideas for books and this link for books that should never be read.

Little People figures and animals – Pretend play is so much better with small figures and animals that little ones can hold.  Check out this link for  pretend play ideas.

Crayons, markers – Making lines, circles, and dots are excellent ways to practice imitation and then pair it with fun sounds.  Check out this link for play ideas with doodling.

Mittens, socks, and chapstick might be some of the more traditional stocking stuffers but if you get some with fun designs or colors then it gives you more opportunities to offer choices to your toddlers and practice vocabulary:  “Do you want socks with cars or planes?”  “Pink mittens or purple?”

Vibrating toothbrush – Give little ones some independence when brushing their teeth by giving them one that vibrates!  You even get to create an opportunity for them to ask “on” or “off” or “help” – if the button or switch is a bit too difficult.

Be sure to check out some of my other Christmas-themed blog posts for helping little ones learn to talk and play:

12 Sounds for Christmas

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

25 Sounds to Practice When You Find Your Elf Each Morning

Best Toys and Gifts: a speech therapist’s list!

Remember to “like” and follow me on Facebook so you don’t miss any of my play and language learning tips!

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Help your toddler say “Thank You”

Helping children learn to be polite is very important to many parents.  Words like “thank you” and “please” may often be just as important as helping little ones say names of objects and actions.  The concept of “please” is usually fairly simple to understand and parents are happy to fulfill their little one’s requests as long as that word is attempted or added.  The concept of “thank you” can be harder to grasp as it is something we expect toddlers to say AFTER we have already given them that highly desired item.

teach toddlers to say thank you
PIN this… Helping Little Ones Learn to Say Thank You

One especially helpful aspect of Thanksgiving is that it comes right after Halloween which means many toddlers have been recently motivated by candy to say “thank you” -many times!  If they haven’t actually said “thank you” they’ve at least seen people receiving candy and heard others say “thank you” so little ones have learned the importance of saying these words.

This leads me to the first, and most important, way to teach little ones: SHOW THEM by doing it yourself!  When your little one hands you an object, say “thank you”.  When they give you a hug, say “thank you”.  When they help clean up, say “thank you”.  Look for opportunities to thank them throughout each day.

The specific speech requirements for producing “thank you” accurately are fairly advanced so expect that your little one’s first attempts may sound something like:  “tay oo” or “dank you” or “kak you”.  Don’t worry so much about the “th” sound… that will come later.

sign_language_thank_you
http://www.babysignlanguage.com

Enlisting the help of older siblings is also a fantastic way to teach any word or concept!  Encourage the older sibling to say THANK YOU clearly when giving out any toys, foods, or objects to all children present.

Before your child is talking, signing can be a great way to communicate “thank you”.  Teach your little one to thank others with a gesture (of course smiles and hugs are also great ways to show thanks!)  For a video clip, go to:

VIDEO baby sign “thank you”

One of my favorite ways to teach almost any word is through songs!  Yes, there are lots of videos for kids online with songs but the ones YOU sing and encourage your child to sing with you…in the car, on a walk, in the checkout line of a store, etc…have more of an impact as they are more interactive!  Slow the down song to help elongate those vowel sounds, sing it loudly to place emphasis or show excitement, sing quietly to increase attention, or insert the child’s name to make it personal.  Take any tune you know and change the words to use “thank you” repeatedly!

If you have “Baby Shark” on repeat in your head, just change the words:

“Thank you, mom… doo doo doo doo doo doo” (etc. etc. etc)

Change the “Happy Birthday” song:

“I like to say Thank YOU… I like to say Thank YOU… When I help out my mommy… She likes to say Thank YOU”

For more song suggestions and a printable version of this blog post, go to:  FREE Handouts you can print out

Want to teach “thank you” in play?  Use any toy that has pieces or parts and each time your child hands you a puzzle piece, potato head part, or block for stacking; respond with nothing else but “thank you”.  Repeat.  Always repeat!

(This post contains Amazon affiliate links which means I may potentially earn a small fee based on qualifying sales.)

Here are some toy ideas:

And yes, another opportunity to practice Thank You is quickly approaching… Christmas!  If you are looking for gift ideas be sure to check out: Toys That Do NothingTop 5 NON-toy Toys, and Best toys and gifts: a speech therapist’s list!

Make sure you like and follow my Facebook page so you don’t miss any of my speech and language tips and play ideas.

“Thank you” for reading and sharing.  I appreciate it! 😊  Thank YOU!  Thank YOU!

 

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FREE Handouts you can print out

Here are PDF versions of my most popular blog posts (or at least the ones that might be most helpful to share with others or keep a paper copy for yourself).

This is a work in progress so check back if I do not yet have a printable version of a blog post you would like to have.  You can also just send me a message on my Facebook page, contact me through this website, or comment below if you would like a specific post added to this list.

Most of these printable versions have been condensed in order to fit onto one sheet of paper (although a few are two pages).  The full articles will always be on this website.

10 Strategies to Help Toddlers Learn to Talk PRINTABLE HANDOUT    BLOG LINK

Watch Me: encouraging visual attention in early talkers   PRINTABLE HANDOUT    BLOG LINK

Where’s the Speech in Speech Therapy?  PRINTABLE HANDOUT  BLOG LINK

50 Simple Phrases to Use with “Baby Shark” PRINTABLE HANDOUT   BLOG LINK

Playing with Books PRINTABLE HANDOUT  BLOG LINK

Where are the Words? PRINTABLE HANDOUT  BLOG LINK

Best Toys and Gifts: a speech therapist’s list  PRINTABLE HANDOUT  BLOG LINK

(Part 2 of “Best toys” with photos of specific toys) HANDOUT: THE LIST

Two Little Words to Encourage Communication PRINTABLE HANDOUT  BLOG LINK

Magical Moments PRINTABLE HANDOUT  BLOG LINK

Toys That Do Nothing PRINTABLE HANDOUT  BLOG LINK

Playing with Puzzles PRINTABLE HANDOUT  BLOG LINK

Help Little Ones Say Thank You  PRINTABLE HANDOUT  BLOG LINK

The Power of Peekaboo PRINTABLE HANDOUT  BLOG LINK

Some Books are Better Left Unread PRINTABLE HANDOUT  BLOG LINK

12 Sounds for Christmas PRINTABLE HANDOUT   BLOG LINK

Say What They See PRINTABLE HANDOUT  BLOG LINK

Communicating Before Words PRINTABLE HANDOUT  BLOG LINK

Power Words PRINTABLE HANDOUT  BLOG LINK

Toddler Speech: unraveling the mystery PRINTABLE HANDOUT  BLOG LINK

Traveling with kids: the speech and language way

Road trips and plane rides… with little ones.  It’s a whole new world of travel.  Remember being a child and not having electronics when going on vacation?  What did we do…?

We played car games:  The Alphabet Game, The License Plate Game, I Spy, Auto Bingo, Rhyme Time…and a word spelling game called “ghost” – that I’m not sure if my Grandma made up.

What else?  We sang songs, we created stories out of what the clouds looked like, we ate snacks, we read books, we pretended our siblings were robots and positioned their arms and legs in awkward poses, we got on each other’s nerves, we asked “are we there yet?”… but we TALKED to each other.

Now, I’m no expert on parenting or traveling with little ones but I do know that a travel bag for little ones doesn’t need to require batteries or recharging – especially if the trip isn’t too long.  So, what do you put in a travel bag to help pass the travel time?  This, of course, depends on the ages of your children but here are some non-electronic travel bag ideas: 20180401_131550.jpg

(Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.)

When my kids were younger, the travel bag was mostly books, snacks, magnetic doodle boards, a few toy cars and stuffed animals.  One of my favorite stuffed animals was the turtle with a bunch of buckles on it!  This was great on the airplane (not as much in a car) as it did require frequent help to unlatch the buckles.  More opportunities to ask for help = more opportunities to practice communication.

Dropping the toys with no way to retrieve them while driving was definitely an issue so we did LOTS and LOTS of music – music, not videos.  Keeping the playlist familiar but with a few new songs helped tremendously.

Now that my kids can do activities with less adult help, stickers are a huge favorite!  We go through SHEETS and SHEETS of stickers on trips.  Alphabet stickers are great!  I write a list of their favorite words and they cover up the letters with the matching letter sticker.  They will use the letter sticker to write out their names, things they see outside, the first letter of whatever word I call out… or just put the whole alphabet on the piece of paper.  Reusable stickers scenes are great too.

Folders with activities such as mazes, connect the dots, and scavenger hunt type activities (I just printed out a grid of cars and trucks then colored them red, blue, black, gray, green, etc to make car bingo a little easier and not require such a long attention span when you JUST can’t find that railroad crossing sign that is in so many pre-made auto bingo cards – ha!)  One side of my folder has activities for my older son and the other side has mostly blank paper for my younger daughter.

It’s not all about coloring and books.  Remember to sing lots of songs!  Play those interactive car games from your childhood, and of course, snack away as needed.  Those are all great opportunities to practice sounds and words!  Think about how many opportunities there are to point out passing cars or airplanes overhead, request help, request more, request pit stops, request a break, request food and activities and objects… Remember to offer choices to help with speech and also reduce frustration.  When you arrive at your destination “Hooray!”

Here is a visual list of ideas (although your local Dollar Store is also a great option):
    

 

Traveling with little ones isn’t easy, I get it, but it can also be an opportunity to teach them how to travel and not just how to survive it.  Lots of concepts to think about with traveling – independent play, imagination, maps/directions, the concept of “one minute”, and patience.  Yes, lots of patience!

What’s in your travel bag?

Thank you for reading and sharing!  I’d love to hear what works for you.


Other articles you may be interested in:

Toddler Speech: unraveling the mystery

Playing with…BOOKS!

Where are the WORDS?

 

 

 

Teaching baby to listen

I usually post articles about talking and playing, but here’s a good reminder for practicing LISTENING skills. Check out the more playful ideas in #5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 🙂

How Well Does Your Baby Listen?

More information

How to talk to baby

Using sign language with infants

10 baby and toddler games to play

Building a Brain

Interacting Before Language

Pretend to Understand

Playing with Music

Expanding Toddler Language Skills

Best Toys

How Play Makes Baby Smarter

Tickling Helps to Learn Language

Power of Words When Talking to Kids

Do you see what I see?

Learning to maintain shared attention may be the most important skill for a one-year old to practice due to its impact on all other forms of learning…including communication. This article shows that parent attention can play a significant role. So, if you’re wondering what to do, the first step is to see what your baby sees and play with what your baby wants to play with…then stay there (at least as long as your baby does).

Infant Attention Span Suffers When Parents’ Eyes Wander

For those who aren’t yet talking

 

 

Whether your baby is 6 months old or 18 months old, if he isn’t using many words then here are some posts I’ve written which may be helpful.  For printable versions of many of my posts, go to: FREE Handouts you can print out

Get on their level and give their vocalizations feedback: The Passionate Pointer.

Focus on sounds and imitation, not just words: Where are the WORDS?

Try some sign language: Communicating before words

For the earliest communicators, focus on play and interaction: The Power of Peekaboo

The right word at the right time: Magical Moments

Even if everyone says “don’t worry”, it’s ok to ask questions and try some things at home: Wondering isn’t the same as worrying


Be sure to “like” and follow my Facebook page for all the latest blog posts and information regarding my baby and toddler play classes, parent workshops, and in-home play sessions.  You can also send me a message.

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