Top 5 Toys for Speech Therapy at Home (and how to use them)

Updated: Jan 26

August 23, 2018

Speech therapy for toddlers who have delays, are late talkers or even those who have other medical diagnoses like Autism or Childhood Apraxia of Speech need to develop their expressive language skills. They might also need to work on:

Receptive language skills, or their understanding of language

Social skills, or how they interact or engage with people around them

Play skills, which are directly related to their cognitive skills, or how they think and learn

But when the therapy session ends, parents most often ask, "how do I do speech therapy at home?" Parents are the best at providing speech therapy at home since they will always see their kids more often than the therapist will. But how should they do it? Read below to see what my top 5 toys for getting a child interested in that first speech therapy session.

The toys on this list are often ones I might use first when starting to work with a child. These get a toddler responding quickly and engaging right away. And working on engagement through play is using a child’s everyday routine to work on language skills. There are no flashcards with toddlers in speech therapy. It’s got to be fun or that kiddo is just not going to engage.

So here are the top 5 toys I take out of my therapy bag:

1. Animal Pop Up – This is one of my all-time favorites, which you may already have at home. The best thing about this toy is that the animals jump out of the slots and surprise the kids every time. It’s a great attention getter for those kids that sometimes just don’t want to pay attention.

With this toy you can:

  • Call the animal to come out: “Lion, lion, where are you?”

  • Target colors (buttons), or animal names

  • Encourage vocalizations by making animal sounds for kids who are not yet verbalizing

  • Teach the word “more” before allowing the child to press a button

  • Target verbs like “open, close”

2. Race Track – The best part about this track is that any toddler, even those with motor delays, can put the cars on the track and watch them swirl down to the bottom. Kids that love this toy, will request it over and over and you can target different words before you give it to them:

With this toy, you can:

  • Have the child imitate car sounds like “vroom!”

  • Target routine phrases like “Ready, set, go” or “one, two, three”

  • Model the words, car, truck, Mickey

  • If a child has trouble putting the car on the track, model “help”

  • To get another turn, target “more, gimme, please”

3. Kids Echo Microphone – No need for batteries! This is a simple (and cheap) toy that works so well. I use it very early on with kiddos in speech therapy who might not yet be vocalizing and imitating. This is a great toy to also encourage turn taking since your child will see you using it and will likely want a chance to explore what it can do.

With this toy, you can:

  • Vocalize sounds like ooo, aaah, papapa, shhh or any other sound

  • Target the words mine, more, my turn, please

  • Teach more complex ideas like “quiet” or “loud”

4. Baby Doll with Clothes or Bath – This is the best pretend play toy on my shelf. And what kid doesn’t love acting out all the things mommy and daddy do with them. I also like the plastic dolls (not the cloth version) just so we can give it a bath!

And after I have this basic set, I’ll bring real spoons and plastic bowls from the kitchen. The baby can go anywhere with you and engage in all of the activities your child does, so the language possibilities are endless.

Remember, if your child is not interested in the doll after a couple of tries, they might not be ready for this type of pretend play. Put it away and try again in a few weeks.

With this toy, you can:

  • Target sounds like “mmmm,” “waaa,” and “boohoo”

  • Work on nouns like baby, spoon, bath, brush, hat or any other objects you are using

  • Teach verbs like eat, go, sleep, jump

  • Teach descriptive words like big, little, dry, hungry

  • Target location words like, down, “in” the bath; the baby can climb “up” to bed, hat “on”

5. Wind Up Toy – Who doesn’t want to see a monkey jump rope?!? I think this might be one of my favorites, just because it’s so simple and so timeless. And this is a great toy for my evaluations or first therapy session to see if a child is interested in engaging with me and their joint attention. Will the child make any attempt to request help in winding up the toy? Will they understand a simple direction to “give me the monkey.”

With this toy, you can:

  • Work on verbal routines like “ready, set, go!”

  • Target, more, please, help and my turn

  • Teach hop, up, monkey and silly

One of the last tips I have for parents is that rotating the toys they already have, or even borrowing toys from friends or using an online toy library like this one is great for keeping kids interested in what they already have at home.

At Better Speech we know you deserve speech therapy that works.

We have experts in your needs and assign the right therapist; not just the therapist that happens to be in your area. If you want to find out more about our services, contact us to schedule a free consultation.

We are passionate about helping all people communicate at their best. Better Speech is a convenient and affordable online speech therapy for children and adults.

Sign up and get matched immediately with a licensed speech therapist. Start improving communication skills from the comfort of your home. Better Speech - for a better future.  

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