With the holiday season around the corner, many families will be thinking about new toys for their toddlers and preschoolers. Toys have the opportunity to be learning tools and can help grow speech and language skills. However, for these toys to support language, caregivers must facilitate the language. Below are some of my favorites, along with skills your child can learn from playing with these toys.
- Mr. Potato Head: One of my all-time favorites. Mr. Potato Head (and Mrs. Potato Head) offer expressive language opportunities such as requesting (I want mouth) as well as receptive language opportunities like pronouns (Give the nose to her). Mr. Potato Head is perfect for learning body parts and clothing as well.
- Farm Set: The farm set is great for learning animals and the sounds they make. It offers opportunities to practice answering ‘wh’ questions (Where is the cow? Who is eating? What animal says ‘oink’?). You can also use the farm to practice important social language skills such as turn taking (May I have the horse please?)
- Play Kitchen: The possibilities are endless with a play kitchen. The kitchen is perfect for following simple 1-2 step directions (Put the milk in the refrigerator) and learning important vocabulary (foods, kitchen utensils, etc). It offers opportunities to expand language from simple phrases (eat banana) to 4-5 word sentences and questions (Where is the spoon?)
- Baby Doll: An excellent choice for both boys and girls, the baby doll is perfect for teaching verbs (sleep, eat, cry) and feelings (hungry, sleepy, thirsty). Doll accessories provide opportunities to teach prepositions (Take the blanket off the baby. Put the baby in the crib.)