Let's Play: the speech and language way

Speech and language therapy ideas for playing at home


Play ideas

Playing in the… SNOW!

Bundle up!  It’s time to play in the snow!  As with any new experience, some little ones will love it right away and proceed to cover themselves with the fluffy white stuff while others may need a slower, gentler introduction.

Start by watching from the window.  Look at the snowflakes and “oooh aaah” while you allow your little one to take it all in.  Talk about how snow is “cold, brrrr” and it can be “wet” and “pretty, aaaahh”.  Take the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down and sing:

“All the snow is falling down, falling down, falling down.  All the snow is falling down.  It’s white on the ground.”

Bringing the snow INSIDE can be a warmer (and easier) way to experience snow.  Go outside and fill a bucket or load some snow on a cookie tray.  Bring it inside for your little one to touch/explore and drive pretend snowplows through!  “Pusssh, wheeee, beep beep, all clear!”  Try to shape the snow into a ball “roll, roll, roll” or “pat, pat, pat” into a pancake.  Put a little food coloring in for fun and “WOW!”

Getting ready to play in the snow is a whole new experience as well.  LOTS of opportunity to practice getting dressed and talking about clothing and body parts.  Take the tune of If Your Happy and You Know It and sing:

“Put your boots on your feet on your feet.  Put your boots on your feet on your feet (clap, clap).  Put your boots on your feet.  Put your boots on your feet.  Put your boots on your feet on your feet (clap, clap).” – or use tongue clicks instead of clapping as your hands will be busy getting your little one ready!  Repeat song for 1) arms in your coat 2) legs in your pants 3) hat on your head 4) hands in your mittens… then start all over once your toddler starts to take it all off!

Now, we’ve finally made it OUTSIDE! DSC02584Yippee!!  If your little one isn’t yet walking well enough for snow, just let them sit down and play.  It’s like a sandbox, but colder!  Get out some buckets and shovels or just let them cover your hands.  “Tap, push, stack, crush, crunch” and whatever other snow action seems like fun.  Show them how to make a snow angel and “flap, flap, flap” your wings.  Find a small hill and just log roll down “roll, roll, roll” (yes, I always say things in 3s). Stomp and make tracks to play follow the leader or just “stomp, stomp, stomp” and see whose footprints are bigger.


Whether you allow your little one to eat the snow or not, most will give it a taste!  It’s fun to feel the flakes on their tongue and it’s a good way to practice imitating parents’ funny faces!  If you want to encourage more of it – “yummmmmy” but if you would prefer not to encourage it – “yucky”.

There are also the tried and true snow activities: snowball making, snowman building, and SLEDDING!  With a baby, sledding may be more like pulling him through the snow over a flat surface rather than a speedy downhill plunge, but either way it’s still a fun ride – “wheee” and “ready, set, go!”

Here’s a fun fact about learning to talk and playing in the snow:  your little one might talk MORE once when you get back inside and recap your adventures – after their mouth unfreezes – ha!

Of course, you don’t need anything to go outside and experience the snow (aside from appropriate warm clothing), but here are some fun things to consider:

(Disclaimer:  These photos will take you to Amazon and are affiliate links.)


Once your back inside, find some other ways to play which encourage speech and language skills with these posts:

Mystery Boxes and Sensory Bins

Playing with…BOOKS!

Best toys and gifts: a speech therapist’s list!

Be sure to “like” my Facebook page so you get all my latest posts and information for speech and language development!

Purposeful Packaging

The excitement of a new toy often leads to hurried package opening with the paper or bag or box tossed aside.  Do you know how many communication opportunities may have just been missed?

Zipper bags (like those that are used for Mega Bloks) are a communication tool! (Which is why I keep all of my puzzles pieces in ziploc bags – Playing with… PUZZLES!)

For little ones who can’t quite pull the zipper on their own, you can show them how the zipper moves when you make the “zzzzzzz” sound but it stops when your sound stops too!  Then offer them a turn.  Here’s an opportunity for you to see if they need help.  Ask with a single word “help?” and even use the sign to go with it for bonus points.  Once the zipper moves again, here comes that “zzzz” sound!  Once the bag is finally open… “HOORAY!” or “TADA!” or  “You did it!”  Then zip it back up and do it again – ha!

Keep the bag open but when your little one reaches to take a block out, you can playfully pretend the newly opened bag is now a mouth and will nibble on their hand “yum yum yum”.   If that gets the giggles going then keep it up!  Tell the mouth “no, no, no” or “oooopen” or “stop”.   Heck, zip the “mouth” back up when he’s full and can’t eat anymore then start the game all over.  You may never even get the blocks out of the bag or you might get the blocks out just so that you can “feed” the bag.  Who cares?  You might’ve just had more communication and interaction by playing with the bag then you will once the child dumps all the blocks out and then leaves the room.

The packaging that a toy (or food or object) comes in can be part of the game so look for opportunities to make it purposeful beyond just storage.  My mother reused plastic food containers for just about everything and I’m fairly certain she has never actually purchased a true food storage container in her life.  We constantly washed out and re-purposed yogurt, cottage cheese, cool whip containers, etc.  My sister’s favorite pull toy was an empty thread spool on a long piece of string!

Some of my other favorite packaging comes with blankets and bedding – almost always a transparent zippered bag.

Anyone buy bulk pretzels or animal crackers that come in huge plastic tubs?  Perfect for communication (and toy storage and as a drum and as a water play tub)!  Playing with…containerscontainer

How about the plastic container that stores baby wipes?  I love to see what a little one can do with that slot at the top and what they can fit inside.

Even the banana peel is a communication opportunity.  Hand the peeled banana to your little one and see what happens.  Do they just try to eat it anyway or look at you for help?  Any foods that have wrappers work just as well.

Anyone have Magic Tracks at their house?  The box it comes in makes a perfect tunnel!magic track

magic track tunnel

NOTE:  Of course, please do not give plastic bags to small children as they are not toys.  Also please do not hand young children unopened food items if they are just as likely to eat the box or wrapper.

Below are pictures to Amazon (affiliate links) to items that come with PURPOSEFUL PACKAGING!  Also, it’ll be shipped to your home which means you’ll get a cardboard box at no extra cost – BONUS!

Be sure to follow me on Facebook for all my latest play ideas!

Santa Claus is coming to town!

The holiday season with little ones can be a magical time.  It can also be a lot of work and stress, but let’s focus on the fun stuff for now.  Time to practice sounds and words and songs with a Christmas theme to help little ones learn to talk and enjoy the festivities!

Some of our family’s favorite activities at this time of year are going to the zoo to see all of the lights, watching the Christmas parade, driving around to see all of the lights/decorations (which is easier once the little ones can face forward in their car seats), and visiting Santa.  That Santa visit took us a few years to accomplish as sitting on a strange man’s lap dressed in a costume didn’t seem like a good idea to either of my kids when they were babies or toddlers.  I get it.  We just waved and watched.

Advent calendars are great for practicing peek-a-boo and “knock knock” on the doors to reveal the next picture or candy.  Decorating the tree allows for opportunities to describe the ornaments and try words like “up” and “more”.  It’s also the perfect setup to offer your little one a choice of which ornament he would like to put up.  Practice “Thank You” throughout the day so that your little one will be ready to receive gifts.  Wrap up gifts for others and practice making deliveries: “bye bye” and “here you go”.  Better yet, wrap up some of your current toys and hide them away for a few months!

Christmas is a great time to practice fun sounds and songs whenever you start to see decorations pop up.  In fact, running your daily errands in stores may be your little one’s first experience with lots of new sparkly, musical, brightly colored objects they’ve never seen before!

Here are just some of my favorite sounds/words/songs to use during Christmastime…

1. Tongue clicks for reindeer hooves.  Anytime you see Rudolph in a book, a store window, or hear his song playing while you shop – go ahead and click your tongue.  Don’t forget to point out his flashing “red nose – ooo aaahh”.

2. Sing “Jingle Bells” with shakers/bells and make sure to get a big “HEY” in there at the end!  This song isn’t all that easy for little ones, but the ending can be fun to SHOUT!  “Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh – HEY!”

3. Make lots of excited sounds while looking at Christmas lights “ooo”, “wow”, “blink blink”, “tada”, “yay!”  Gasping with excitement is good too!

4. Yummy sounds for all the treats and cookies “mmmm”, exaggerated sniffing to introduce the smells of cinnamon, Christmas trees, gingerbread, and minty candy canes.

5. Sing “Deck the Halls” and change the “Fa la la las” to different consonants…”ba ba ba…da da da…wa wa wa”.  Heck just change ALL the words so that it makes sense for your little one:

“Time to eat let’s go have dinner – yum yum yum yum yuuuuum yum yum yum yum.”

“Time for bath let’s pour the water – rub a dub a duuuuub dub dub dub dub.”

“Time to sleep let’s go to bed – night night night night niiiiight ssssh ssssh sssh sssh.”

6. Cold sounds… “brrrr”.  Yep, you’ll get a lot of use of this one.  Depending on where you live, you may get to introduce lots of words for playing in the snow, too.

7. If you have a train around your treeChristmas train help toddlers talk(or you go visit one of the many on display this time of year) “choo choo”, “ding dong”, “hi” and “bye”.  My son’s first true word was “bye” as he waved to the train going around the track at Christmastime so this one has a special place in my heart.  It was a highly repetitive way to practice the same two words “hi” and “bye” over and over and over again as that train kept his attention LOCKED.

8.  Last but definitely not least…. Santa!!! “Ho, ho, ho”.  Whether Santa visits your house or not, it would be hard to avoid images of this big bellied man dressed in a red suit throughout the entire month of December.  Fortunately, he has a silly and fairly easy sound for your little one to repeat.  Hard to say “ho, ho, ho” and not play with your voice even a little bit!

Books can help little ones get a better understanding of what is going on with all of the new sights and sounds.  Here are some that I like (photos are affiliate links to Amazon):

Other get-ready-for-Christmas toys that also encourage interaction and language learning:

If you’re looking for toy ideas for little ones that will encourage interaction and help children learn to talk, go to my full list of creative, active, and pretend toys Best toys and gifts: a speech therapist’s list! then check out Toys that do nothing! 

Don’t forget to save all of those boxes that the toys come in (another good reason to buy from Amazon – more boxes) because they may be your baby’s favorite gift!

Merry Christmas!!!

christmas kids

Halloween play

“Boo!”  It’s time for Halloween which means it’s the best time to capitalize on one of the easier words for little ones to learn – BOO!  If they haven’t mastered “boo” in the classic game of Peekaboo then it’s time to revisit the word for Halloween fun!

If you’ve read many of my posts, you’ll know that arts and crafts are not my area of expertise but there are tons of crafty moms who will fill your Google search and Pinterest pages!  I tend to stick with painting pumpkins, sticker scenes, window clings and tissue ghosts.  Painting pumpkins is fun and messy and a perfect time to practice words like “up, down, water, tap, dot” and all the colors.  We add stickers on the second day (once paint dries).  Sticker scenes are great for language such as naming which person/object goes in which area of the house and what goes under, next to, beside, in front of, etc.

trick or treat

Trick or treating can be a great way to practice speech and language skills! You say a word and you get a treat… pretty big incentive!

Before you head out, have your little one practice holding a bag or bucket and say some version of “trick or treat” to mom, dad, neighbors, grandparents, puppets, dolls… and let them receive something, anything so that they get the idea. Then when the big event comes they will better prepared and able to maybe say something to all of the complete strangers they are about to meet!

“Trick or treat” is a pretty complicated phrase to say accurately – even for preschoolers. Here are some of the common versions of this Halloween phrase:

“chi uh chee”
“ti uh tee”
“twik oh tweet”
“di oh dee”

If this is just too much for your little one, try just practicing “please” and “thank you”. If they aren’t yet talking or are hesitant to talk to strangers give them a card to show or to point to that says “trick or treat”.  I know I didn’t talk to anyone I didn’t know until I was at least 10 years old…or something like that.  Trick or treating was fairly intimidating to me as a child.

One of the best Halloween songs is “Five Little Pumpkins”.  It has gestures, meaningful sounds, words, phrases, and you can make visuals pretty easily with five orange, round objects (balls or pieces of felt or paper).

Clicking on the following pictures will take you to Amazon. (These are affiliate links.)


Happy Halloween!!!

Be sure to “like” and follow my my Facebook page for all the latest play ideas and information regarding my play classes and parent workshops!

Also, once Halloween is over… you might start thinking about Christmas shopping!!!  Be sure to check out Best toys and gifts: a speech therapist’s list!

Talking… at the Playground!

No toys necessary for helping your little one learn to talk at the playground.  Slides, swings, climbing things, other people, mulch… so much to explore!  It’s also a great place to offer choices.  “Slide or swing?”  “More swinging or all done?”  IMG_20171022_151702If your little one is running around too fast to ask him where he wants to go then just follow him and don’t worry about making a choice first.  Ha!  When my own son (who couldn’t stop running) was little, the baby/toddler swing was the perfect place for imitating sounds and words, making silly faces at him, and teaching him the sign for “more”.

Slides are great (when not too hot) for “up, up, up” and “ready, set…(go)” and “wheeeee!”  The slides might be fast “whoosh”, slow “aaaaaah”, curvy “round and round and round”, or in a tunnel “ooooooo – echo echo”.  Sometimes the slides are bumpy “bump bump bump”.

Climbing things can be opportunities to teach asking for “help” or saying “pull”, “push” or “one more”.  Action and movement words may be the key with playground activities: run, jump, spin, step, go, stop, higher, lower, fast, slow, up, down, in, out, wheeee, uh-oh, kaboom!  You’ll also find plenty of opportunities for peek-a-boo.IMG_20171022_151719

Whatever skill your little one is learning make sure you throw in “tada” or “you did it” or “hooray”!  Cheers of accomplishment are important – and much appreciated by your little one for noticing her achievements.

Playing hide-n-seek or tag/chase are also great ways to use playgrounds for language learning “I see you” and “gonna get you”.

With preschoolers, making up an obstacle course “first, then, last” or having a scavenger hunt are fun playground activities.

One fun feature at several of our local playgrounds is a matching game (photo).  Once little ones figure out how to spin the pieces around and notice that the parts make a whole, add in some words or sounds “turn, turn…stop”.  To keep it simple just play with “yes” and “no” when you find the matches.  Change your voice, repeat the word several times, or sing the word to make it playful and keep your little one engaged.

In this particular matching game, IMG_20171022_125348 there are six animals to complete.  Make sure you name what your little one is searching for: “monkey’s belly” and “bunny’s feet” and “bird’s head”.  Take turns: “my turn” and “your turn”.  Remember that the more help YOU need to complete the match and the more INCORRECT matches you find, the more opportunities your little one has to correct you!  Then model a silly “oh mom…” (with a heavy sigh).  Don’t forget those cheers of accomplishment!

In this video (below), you’ll hear how she talks herself through finding the right body parts and then proudly announces her accomplishment!  With younger children, think of using single words or short phrases to accomplish the same task.

Transcript: “I did the monkey and now, elephant.  We already have the head, now just the belly, and his feet.  I got the whole elephant!”

Simpler version to use with little ones who aren’t yet using sentences:  “All done monkey.  Now elephant.  Head.  Hmmmm… belly…aaaaannnd feeeeet!  Tada!”

Playgrounds can also be a place for little ones who are struggling to talk to just play and have minimal pressure to try words.  They can just enjoy laughing, making meaningful (happy, silly, excited) sounds, and interacting with their parents who may be falling off of the balance beam or getting stuck on the slide.

For more outdoor play ideas check out:

After the rain…PUDDLES!


The Passionate Pointer

Want indoor ideas?  I’ve got those too!

Playing with…BOOKS!

Playing with… PLAYDOUGH!

Best toys and gifts: a speech therapist’s list!

Be sure to “like” and follow my Facebook page for all the latest information on my play and language learning classes, parent workshops, and play ideas!




Mystery Boxes and Sensory Bins

A box.  Such an intriguing object.  What could possibly be in there?  Knock on it.  Shake it.  Listen.  The anticipation is building… It could be ANYthing!

Using a “mystery box” in play can make old toys new again and increase your child’s engagement in an activity – all while building language skills for matching, describing and predicting.  Question words and words/sounds of surprise and accomplishment will also be important for mystery box play.

What goes in a mystery box?  Parts and pieces that, when found, will help achieve a task.

  • Puzzle pieces IMG_20170831_130523
    • Let the child say “bye bye” as you name all the pieces to hide in the box then we can try to guess what will be next with an enthusiastic “no” or “yes” once the puzzle piece is revealed.  For more puzzle play, go to Playing with… PUZZLES!
  • Potatohead body parts and accessories
    • Find the missing body parts by trying to feel which part might be in your hand before you reveal what you’ve found!
  • Balls from a game or ball tower pound-a-ball
  • Magnets to stick on a refrigerator
    • Sometimes just having another spot to put the objects you find is enough to create a purpose to the activity.  Give your little one plenty of opportunities to ask for “more”.
  • Half of the cards from a memory/matching game
    • Playing memory/matching games is fun for preschoolers, but sometimes too hard for toddlers.  Just leave 8-10 cards face up on the floor and put the matches in the mystery box.  Take turns just as you would in any game.
  • Cars, Dinosaurs, Figurines, Farm animals, etc.
    • Once found they can take their place in the parking lot or jungle or house or barn or whatever makes sense.  Use a repetitive phrase for your little one to chant or sing or fill-in the blank (think “ready, set, go” chant but use “the CAR goes IN the SPOT” or “the COW goes IN the BARN”)
  • Flash cards lp-flashcards
    • The mystery box just became a mailbox!  Pull out a card (piece of mail) and see what Grandma (or other friend or family member) sent to your toddler.  Remember to thank that person for your mail “Thank YOU”.  For more ideas with flash cards go to, Playing with…flash cards

A mystery box can be as simple as a diaper box (tape it up then cut out a hole for their hand to reach in) or a wipes box (might want to widen the slit at the top).  However, there are also some super cute toys that serve this purpose and might make a better gift than a used wipes container!

Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

Just because the toys pictured above come with specific toys, don’t limit your play to those items!  Use whatever fits inside and would be motivating or interesting to your little one.

Sensory bins can also be mystery boxes.  Google and Pinterest will give you LOTS of ideas for sensory bins, but the basic idea is for kids to use their senses to explore and learn (touch it, smell it, see it, hear it, taste it).  Sensory bins can be super messy, but they don’t have to be.  When I want to use a sensory bin as a mystery box, I usually need to hide toys that might not be easy to clean (wooden puzzle pieces or flash cards).  In that case, use dry materials such as rice, uncooked pasta, or beans.  Grass, leaves, and other outdoor treasures are great for dry sensory bins too!  Depending on the size of your sensory bin and the toys you hide inside, you might want to add tools to help scoop and dig out the toys.

Here are links to items you may want to hide in your mystery box or sensory bin:



Want more play ideas?  Check out Best toys and gifts: a speech therapist’s list!


Be sure to “like” and follow my Facebook page for all my posts and for information about play classes and parent workshops to help little ones learn to talk!

Talking with Toys: ball and marble towers

Welcome to my new feature: Talking with Toys!  Not only am I exploring a specific toy or type of toy and it’s use for helping little ones learn speech and language skills, but I will also be highlighting one of THE BEST toy stores right here in my hometown of Westerville, Ohio – Naturally Curious Kids!


First, let’s explore BALL TOWERS (for little ones) and then MARBLE TOWERS (for older little ones).

A ball tower that needs to be assembled is a great opportunity to wonder aloud how each piece should go.  Model simple questions like “here?” “this way?” “next one?” “on top?” and then give yourself answers aloud like “no,” “yes,” “turn it” and “tada!”  Using simple language allows your child to hear your thought process!  After you’ve assembled it correctly a few times you can then ask those questions aloud while you intentionally put pieces in the wrong place and let your child tell you “no,” “yes,” “turn it,” and “tada!”

Storing the balls in a pencil bag that zips creates yet another opportunity for your child to try asking for “help” or “open” or use a “zzzzzzzip” sound.

To extend the assembly process even longer try placing the pieces around the room and then find them “yellow…where ARE you?”  Not yet ready for colors?  Just ask for “more”.

Once the ball tower is ready for its big moment, announce “READY, SET…”  Allow that pause for your toddler to have an opportunity to complete “GO”.  Watch the ball go “down, down, down” and “around, round, round”.

Like to sing?  Take the tune of Wheels on the Bus:

“The ball in the tower goes down, down, down,IMG_20171004_145804122

down, down, down

down, down, down

The ball in the tower goes down, down, down

All day long!”

Want to do it again?  Ask whose turn it is to drop the ball.  If you have more than one child who wants to play then assign duties for turn taking.  One person is the “dropper” – drops the ball.  One person is the “catcher” – catches it at the bottom.  Someone else is the “announcer” – announces “ready, set, go”.

The marble tower is basically the ball tower for older kids (especially ones who won’t put a marble in their mouth).  With an older child allow them to assemble it and even get some pieces turned the wrong way.  That’s a great opportunity to problem solve and use language to figure out which piece needs to turn around.IMG_20171004_145836061  Instead of using 1-2 word phrases you may be talking about which color is needed next, how many pieces you might need, which ones are bigger, and how tall to make the tower.  If forming longer sentences is a challenge for your preschooler then continue to use short phrases and only add one more word or concept to their idea.  You can still keep the marbles in a bag or box that your preschooler may need help to open and you can still play a hide-n-seek type of game for assembling the tower.  Turn taking may be even more important with your preschooler.  If waiting for his turn is a challenge, give him a job to do when it isn’t his turn to drop the marble (just like in the ball tower description above).

For more ball tower-related ideas check out Playing with…pound-a-ball (for ball towers that don’t require assembly).

Ball tower-type toys are great for language and problem solving!  They also (usually) don’t require batteries which is a huge plus for learning speech and language skills.

Where to find these toys and other amazing toys for encouraging language, pretend, problem-solving, fine motor, and social skills?  Naturally Curious Kids.

This gem of a toy store is located in uptown Westerville, Ohio.  It has two floors packed with high quality, well-made toys from brands like: IMG_6136

  • Melissa & Doug
  • Green Toys
  • Playmobil
  • Fat Brain Toys
  • Hape
  • HABA
  • Kidoozie
  • Tegu
  • Usborne Books
  • and many, many more!

Whether you are looking for some new toys for your own kids or if you need a gift for an upcoming birthday or holiday, you really can’t go wrong with anything from Naturally Curious Kids.

Because I love this store so much, I was excited when the owners agreed to give my readers a DISCOUNT!  (Disclosure:  I’m going to give you a specific coupon code to use in order to get a discount.  If you use it, I may receive a small percentage of that sale as a thank you from the retailer for promoting their store.  I would also say thank you to YOU for supporting this blog.)

If you shop online at Naturally Curious Kids use coupon code: ToyTalk and you’ll receive 15% off of your TOTAL order!

If you shop in the store at 13 E. College Ave., Westerville, OH then you can get an even bigger discount of 20% off of your TOTAL order… after you comment on this post from my Facebook page and then show your comment to one of the owners (Linda or Jerilyn – wonderful ladies) at the register!

*These discounts are only applicable to regularly priced items and cannot be combined with any other discounts.  Both are good through NOVEMBER 5, 2017.

If you find a toy that looks interesting, but you aren’t quite sure how to use it to help with speech and language play – just ask me.  Always happy to help.

Happy shopping!!!

Playing with… PLAYDOUGH!

You don’t need to make anything elaborate to enjoy playing with playdough.  I’ve seen lots of great playdough creations with a simple Google search, but I’m mostly thinking about the under 3-year-old crowd and Pinterest worthy creations may not yet be the goal here.  Using playdough to get little ones talking CAN be a worthy goal!  Make your own or buy it.  Just make sure they don’t eat it – ha!

A good accessory kit for toddlers can include basics like plastic scissors or plastic knives, a roller, a few shapes for cutouts, and something to squeeze the playdough through.  IMG_20170901_091818Look around your kitchen to find straws (to make towers or trees for a forest), dry pasta like penne or the circle ones to make wheels), and assorted colored beans for hiding or decorating.  In the straw/pasta activity (pictured), add silly sounds each time the pasta falls down the straw.  Assign each straw a vowel and make that sound aaaaaall the way down.  Count the noodles, name each “tower”, take turns “my turn” and “your turn”, and create lots of opportunities for him to request “help me” when the straw falls over or “more noodles” because you are keeping them out of reach.

In general, pair your words with the actions: “squeeze” or “poke” or “roll”.  Make a long noodle shape – now it’s a snake “ssss” or a train “choo choo”.  When you have lots of little pieces and need to clean up, “push” or “dot dot dot” the pieces back together.

Make a ball and roll it “whee” or pretend it’s a bubble and let your toddler “pop” it/”poke” it with your finger or the end of the rolling pin. IMG_20170921_184412 I use the end of the rolling pin to make wheels on vehicles, pepperoni on pizzas, and cookies – YUM!  IMG_20170921_183246216

Sticking stuff in the playdough is fun!  I mentioned the straw idea above but using some of your toddlers toys to “stick” in the mud to see which ones stay “up” and which ones fall down “kaBOOM” can be seriously silly too.  Get out the potato head pieces and practice body parts.  Run your trucks with big tires through it to make tracks “vroom vroom”.  Have any plastic animals with feet?  They can make tracks too!  Tongue click your horse right through that playdough blob.

Make a thick noodle and each of you grab an end.  Pull it SLOWLY “oooooooo” to see how long you can hold that sound (and how long the noodle gets) before it breaks “uh-oh”.

Stack some balls into a snowman “up, up, up”.  Then squish him as he melts “ewwww”.

Gently push your little one’s hand into the playdough to make an impression.  Then sing 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed and each time one of the monkeys bumps his head, smooth out that finger until the hand impression disappears (along with the end of the song): “bye monkey”.

Clicking on the photos below will take you to Amazon where you can see product descriptions and pricing.  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 and affiliated sites.


Be sure to “like” and follow my Facebook page for all the latest play ideas and for information about my play classes and parent workshops.

Playing with… magnetic doodle boards

I am obviously no artist (as evidenced by the smiley face in the above picture), but I can use a doodle board!  The magnetic doodle boards are great because they require much less pressure to make a “mark” as compared to crayons and paper.  Some boards also come with shapes so that little fingers can grab the knobs in addition to trying the pen.  But this post isn’t about fine motor skills, it’s about how to use a doodle for speech and language skills!  So let’s get to it.

Using the pen, you can make a straight horizontal line “chooo chooooooo” all the way to the other side “STOP!”

Then you can make a wavy line and practice firetruck sounds each time the line changes direction “weeeeoooooweeeeeoooo”.

Make lots of circles and choose a vowel “oooooooo” or “eeeeeee”.

When you’re ready to change your picture just slide the knob across (or down) “eeeerase!”

Another great aspect to a doodle is that there is only one pen so it’s a great opportunity to practice turn-taking with either gestures (pat on chest for “me”/”my turn”) or words “my turn”, “your turn”.

Use the doodle for body parts (or at least facial features).  Make “mommy” and “daddy” faces then let your little one tell you what parts are missing/needed “eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hair”… depending on your artistic ability.  Say “hi mommy” and “bye bye mommy” when it’s time to erase and draw siblings or other family members.

The board pictured at the top is especially wonderful because the four shapes are animals!  Instead of the traditional circle, star, square, etc. this board is great for animal sounds.  Each time the magnet makes a dot you say the appropriate sound “quack quack”, “meow meow”, “hop hop”, “ruff ruff”.

Magnetic boards are also good for car activities!  My kids like to use them to draw “maps” to our destinations.

Here are some magnetic boards you might want to try:

For other “art” activities for speech and language play at home, check out:

Playing with… ART

Be sure to “like” and follow my Facebook page for all the latest play ideas and for information about my play classes and parent workshops.

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