Let's Play: the speech and language way

Speech and language therapy ideas for playing at home



Playing with… Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is coming!  Marking this occasion with a little one while also practicing speech and language sounds is an easy combination for LOTS of kisses “mmmmwah” and hugs “awwwe”.

Giving Valentine treats and cards is something that fits perfectly with the idea of a MAILBOX and toddlers love putting things in interesting places – ha! Pretending to send cards or distribute items to family members, family pets, stuffed animals, or imaginary friends is a fun way to play Valentine’s Day.  Saying the words “Happy Valentine’s Day” while making deliveries may be a stretch for little ones, but try “here you go” or “for you”.  Better yet, you start the phrase and then let them finish “it’s for… (YOU)”.  Keep the same phrase or sentence for all of the deliveries – that way your little one gets lots of practice with the same word/phrases.  If you have a toy mailbox (or any box with a slot for “mail”) then you can send your toys, doodles/artwork, flashcards, cut out pictures from old books/magazines to those we love on this special day.

Phrases to repeat and practice (pick one and say it the same way again and again and again):

  • “This is for…(Grandma, Daddy, etc.)”
  • “Send it to…(name)”
  • “bye bye (name of item, picture)”
  • “Here you go”
  • “Put it in”
  • (name of item, picture) for (person) “apple for Daddy”

Setting up LOTS of mailboxes around the house or play area can get your little one moving.  Put a mailbox in different rooms of the house or at least near different stuffed animals and then give directions for your little one to follow: “Give the car to teddy”.  Better yet, offer a choice so that your little one can practice their own words: “Should we give teddy the car or the bus?”

For an easy art activity, IMG_20180126_110845 use white paper plates as mailboxes.  Cut a slot in each, set it on top of a container of some kind and let your little one decorate each mailbox with heart stickers, crayons, markers, paint… etc.  Then they can continue to deliver Valentine cards over and over again!

Make up your own Valentine’s Day song!  Take the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and change the words:

  • When it’s Valentine’s Day, I give you a kiss “mwah, mwah” 
  • When it’s Valentine’s Day, I give you a kiss “mwah, mwah” 
  • When it’s Valentine’s Day, When it’s Valentine’s Day
  • When it’s Valentine’s Day, I give you a kiss “mwah, mwah” 

Change the song to add “When it’s Valentine’s Day, I give you a hug “squeeze, squeeze” or -“When it’s Valentine’s day, I love you – HOORAY”

Books are always good ideas for any day – but don’t worry so much about reading all of the words (Playing with…BOOKS!) Just give a kiss to all of the animals or people you see on the pages.

Valentine’s Day book and toy ideas from Amazon…

(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.)


Other posts you may be interested in:

Two little words to encourage communication

Toys that do nothing

Mystery Boxes and Sensory Bins

Remember to “like” and follow me on Facebook to make sure you get all of my play and language learning ideas as well as information about baby and toddler play classes!

Playing at the Gym for ALL Kids – “We Rock the Spectrum”

Imagine zooming down a zip line onto a soft crash pad while admiring your skills or making silly faces in the wall of mirrors next to you!  This is one of the unique experiences awaiting you at We Rock the Spectrum which is located near the Polaris Mall.


Lighting here is not overwhelmingly bright and you won’t hear any loud music as this is a sensory gym with equipment that is more individualized.  No huge climbing structures for the masses that you might find at other kids’ gyms or play areas.

This isn’t just a gym. IMG_20180106_173401  For those who want a break from physical play, there are other options.  Get creative in the arts and crafts area with a chalk wall and play dough table.  Let your imagination go in the toddler play area with some of the BEST toys for pretending and open-ended play (see my post Toys that do nothing).  They even have a wide selection of Melissa & Doug toys to purchase – yes, you do have to walk right through all of the amazing toys in order to enter and exit the gym.  Be prepared.


There is even a “calming room” which is a small darkened room with a tent, bean bag chair, noise cancelling headphones and textured pillows for those who may just need a break from all of the excitement. IMG_20180106_173454

With no seating for adults, interaction is a must – which is my favorite part!  With increased interaction among adults and children you have the opportunity to practice lots of speech and language skills while playing!  You may overhear Tarzan calls from the zip line, squeals of delight and requests for “more” pushes from the variety of swings, calls for “help” and then cheers of success when the climbers reach the top of the rock wall or climbing net to activate the colored buttons, and finally – parents discussing how they might be able to put some of this equipment into their own basements!


If your child is struggling to communicate through words you can use pictures here.  At the front desk they have “make your own picture board/schedule” materials with pictures of equipment to velcro to clipboards.  LOVE this!

My favorite ready-made picture schedule they had was right next to the bowl of suckers for kids to take when they leave – AFTER 1) putting on your coat and 2) putting on your shoes.  Only when those two steps are completed successfully do you get a sucker – GENIUS (especially for my lollipop-loving children who spotted that jar immediately upon entering).

As a pediatric speech therapist, this gym would be amazing for a therapy setting.  As a parent, this gym was super fun for my own two kids and they keep asking when we can go back!

Be sure to like and follow “Let’s Play the speech and language way” on Facebook for all of my play and language learning tips!

If you are in the Westerville or New Albany, OH areas and are interested in speech therapy for your child in your own home, go to Treehouse Speech Therapy.

Happy Holidays from Columbus! Tips for the season from local bloggers

The holiday season means many things to many people.  Even though most people who read my blog are probably interested in activities for little ones, we have other interests too… right?  santa

I have teamed up with other bloggers from the Columbus, Ohio area to bring you a wider variety of holiday ideas, tips, activities, money savers, etc!  So after you’ve read my post Santa Claus is coming to town for ideas using Christmas sounds, songs, and words with little ones during the Christmas season, be sure to visit some of these other awesome local bloggers.

For Holiday Nature Crafts, check out Ashley’s post from Columbus For Kids:nature craft

For a list of 10 Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions, read Julie’s post from What Should We Do Today Columbus? christmas-940x650

Malini from Lakes & Lattes has a fun family idea for a scavenger hunt Christmas in Columbus: A family adventure landl

Need some local gift ideas?  Kim from Where Love Wanders has a great list Columbus Gift Guide WLW_GiftGuide2017

Tara from Pennies From Heaven Home has some beautiful ideas for decorating an artificial Christmas tree From Walmart to Wow TreeD

Want to stay healthy during the holidays?  Kathleen from Just Keep It Simple Fitness has some helpful tips How to Keep the Holidays Healthy but Still Fun title-pic-600x900

Mary from Mission to Save has you covered for Black Friday shopping and finding great deals all season long Tips for Black Friday Shopping Shopping cart

Shannon from My Life in the Blink has 5 tips for How to Simplify Holiday Gift Giving design

Lindsay from Find Where You Fit gives you ideas for healthy gift giving Healthy Columbus Holiday Gift Guide fwyf

Last, but definitely not least, is Eryn from 614 Mom with The Best of Christmas in Columbus  614 mom


Thank you for your support




In-home play sessions

What’s an “in-home play session”?

Those who have taken my “Let’s Play” classes or attended my “Sounds to Sentences” parent workshop will know that I love teaching communication through PLAY. Did you know that I also offer to come to your house?

Who might be interested?
**Parents of toddlers just learning to talk but getting frustrated.

**Parents of toddlers whose pediatrician has said “it’s ok to wait” but while you wait to decide about getting a full evaluation, you decide to try a few play-based strategies to give communication a little boost!

**Parents of babies who are interested in learning best strategies for play and interaction even before true words develop.

**Parents of young children who already receive speech therapy in a clinic but would like help working on communication at home.

**Anyone with an early communicator who thinks play is fun!

Still not sure? Here’s a recent review from my Facebook page…

“My sister and I did an in home session with Emily and our two toddlers, we loved it. The kids were engaged and so interested in her. She had their attention from beginning to end and they both said more words in that hour than we had ever heard them say before! Highly recommend!”

For more information about in-home play sessions send me a message.

Interested in baby and toddler play and language learning classes?  Click here.

About “Let’s Play”…

“Let’s Play” is a play and language learning class for babies and young toddlers.  The goal is to help develop early communication skills using play. Each week we focus on a different activity or toy theme (books, music, balls, pretend play, bubbles, etc). We also use baby sign language in play and music each week. I provide handouts with ideas for play and sound practice at home based on each theme. Classes are generally divided into babies 3-11 months and toddlers 12-18 months. (Exceptions for slightly older toddlers can always be made! Just let me know.)

With each class, there are some group activities and also some time for free play as I like to spend time getting to know each child and answer any questions. The goal is for children to interact, have fun, and for caregivers to practice at home how we play in class.


Registration for Let’s Play classes

**Next session of Let’s Play starts in January 2019**

Registration is open!

Classes will be for babies and toddlers under 30 months.

Friday mornings at Westerville Community Center.

Cost: $40 Westerville residents, $50 non-residents

Registration is completed through Westerville Parks and Rec


Be sure to “like” my Facebook page for all the latest updates!


Why register for Let’s Play???

1. Your little one would like to interact with other babies and toddlers.

2. You would like to use baby sign language to help with early communication.

3. You have already mastered diapers changes, feeding, and making silly faces. Now you’re looking for other ideas of what to do with baby all day.

4. You value early interaction, communication, play and silliness.

5. Bubbles, music, books, parachutes, balls, and singing all sound like fun ways to play.

**The first year of baby’s life is filled with instructions for new parents: feeding, bathing, sleeping, changing diapers, car seats, medicines and home remedies for all sorts of new mysterious behaviors and illnesses…. but what about HOW TO PLAY?

Come join the fun and help get communication off to a great start!

Blog at

Up ↑