Let's Play: the speech and language way

Speech and language therapy ideas for playing at home



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!

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25 Sounds to Practice When You Find Your ELF Each Morning

Whether your little one understands the story behind the elf or not, just searching for him in a new location each morning can be fun!  Call out to him several times as your little one is waking up or starting the search: “Eeeelllllfff, where are you?”  If you have a creative, mischievous, messy, or maybe a forgetful elf who sometimes doesn’t move at all… here are 25 sounds to practice with your little one who is just learning to talk (of course many of these sounds could be used for several different elf sighting types!):

Creative or impressive-type elf:

  • Wow
  • Oooo
  • Tada
  • Hooray
  • Woohoo
  • Yippee
  • Aha
  • Yay

Mischievous elf:

  • No No No
  • Uh-oh
  • Rut Ro
  • Yikes
  • Whoa
  • Eek
  • Ouch

Messy elf:

  • Yuck
  • Ack
  • Ugh
  • Eww
  • P.U.
  • Oh no
  • Aww

Forgot to move elf:

  • Huh?
  • Hmm…
  • Oops

Finding anything is a fun way to practice speech and language skills.  If your little one isn’t yet using phrases or sentences then just stick with sound play and single words.  This allows them to potentially imitate a sound that is more within their abilities.  No one likes to be asked to do hard stuff all the time.  Sometimes, we need easy.  We need fun. 

Elf-finding is a fun, repetitive game to play and gets the whole family involved!  For more Christmas-themed speech and language learning ideas, check out: 12 Sounds for Christmas and Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

If you are looking for toy and gift ideas for little ones, especially those who are learning to talk, go to my BEST TOYS AND GIFTS list.

Most importantly, be sure to “like” and follow me on Facebook so that you don’t miss any of my play ideas for helping little ones learn to talk!

12 Sounds for Christmas

It’s seems to come earlier and earlier every year.  Stores used to wait until Halloween was over until they put out Christmas decorations, but now it isn’t uncommon to see Halloween, Thanksgiving, AND Christmas decorations in stores at the same time!  Whether you celebrate any or all of these holidays, your little ones will notice the displays in any store that you go to.

Playing with sounds is one of my favorite ways to help little ones learn to talk!  Christmas is a GREAT time for sounds…and music, lots of music!  Let’s explore some of the simple sounds that may be fun to practice with little ones:  help toddlers talk with sounds at Christmas

  1.  “Fa la la la la la la la la” – Sing Deck the Halls; “yayayaya” and “dadadada” would also be perfectly acceptable.
  2. “Wow” – When your kids inevitably notice the huge inflatable decorations in stores and your neighbors’ yards!
  3. “Brrr” – Depending on your location, Christmastime is likely cold and possibly snowy
  4. “Ooo aah” – Your little one will be mesmerized by all of the lights…flashing, musical, twinkling, etc.
  5. “Ho Ho Ho” – Santa’s belly laugh!
  6.  Tongue Clicks – for reindeer hooves
  7.  “Mmm” – all the Christmas sweets and goodies!
  8. “Tada!” and “Hooray!” – opening up gifts or finding your Elf each morning
  9. “Hey!”Jingle Bells is not the easiest song for little ones, but at the end of the song is a very enthusiastic… oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh“HEY!” 
  10.  “Rum pum pum pum” – when your little drummer boy is banging on your pots and pans throughout the house!
  11. “Choo choo” – This is the most amazing season for model trains to be set up all over your town.  You can also take a ride on a real train or set one up around your tree.
  12. “Ding ding” or maybe “jingle jingle” depending on the type of bell – Bells will fill the air and all of the holiday music in your car!

If you’re little one isn’t yet talking and you are asking, where are the words?, remember that sound play and imitation are necessary skills to learn before your little one will start saying many true words.  If you are looking for more Christmas play and toy ideas check out Santa Claus is coming to town! If you have an Elf at your house, 25 Sounds to Practice When You Find Your ELF Each Morning.

Need a toy list especially for little ones who are learning to talk?  Best toys and gifts: a speech therapist’s list!  and Stocking Stuffer Ideas from a Speech Therapist

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Christmas sounds for toddlers

Thank you for sharing!  Merry Christmas!

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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

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