Okay, let’s talk about toys and which ones are best to help get your little one talking. We want to start by emphasizing that the single most important factor when discussing this is to use a toy that is motivating to your child. Motivation is key and with motivation comes desire to communicate!
When we are doing therapy with a late talker here are some toys that we always have in our bag of tricks: a ball, a baby doll and bottle, stacking/nesting toys, pullback cars, puzzles and bubbles. Now not all of these toys will be motivating to your child, but when you find the one that is, you go with it!
When we are working with late talkers, our focus is to start with very simple, yet functional words. For example, words like, more, help, up/down, in/out, on/off, open/close and of course labeling the noun (toy) that we are using. It’s also super important to model verbs when playing with these toys! Here are examples of how we would use each of these toys to help bring out language:
Balls are usually a fan favorite! For this activity we would start by labeling the object “BALL.” Say this word over and over and over again! Other words to emphasize when playing with balls would be “up” “throw” “roll” “kick” and “my turn.”
Baby dolls are such a great toy to stimulate language development. So again, label the toy over and over “BABY” and then model more functional words related to your play schema. There are lots of verbs to model when playing with baby dolls like “hug” “kiss” “cry” and “sleep”. You can also add doll accessories to your play like a bottle and some pretend food and work on words like “eat” and “drink”.
Stacking and nesting toys are so simple but so good for using functional language. We love just repeating the word “up” over and over until the tower falls down and then we repeat the word “down”. Simple yet so effective!
“1-2-3……GO!!” This is our go-to when playing with cars. Cars are also great for teaching exclamatory words like “CRASH” and “BOOM”. Oh and of course….. Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat!
When playing with puzzles, you are the keeper of the pieces and that is a very powerful position! Puzzles are a great activity to help your little one understand and start using the word “MORE”. When we are using puzzles in therapy, we are always the keeper of the pieces and all of the puzzle pieces are in a large ziplock baggie or clear container. Each time a client wants a new puzzle piece, they need to either sign or say “MORE” or “OPEN”. After they communicate one of these words, immediately reward them with a puzzle piece. For kids who like puzzles, this is motivating enough to get them to request!
Another kid favorite and usually super motivating. Functional words that we typically target when playing with bubbles include, “BUBBLE”, “BLOW”, “POP”, “MORE”, “HELP” and “OPEN”. There will be opportunities to use all of these words and just keeping on repeating!
This is just a snapshot of some of the toys we like to use to elicit language but there are many, many more. As you can see, the recurring theme here is to choose a few simple yet functional words depending on your play activity and repeat those words over and over and over again. When you REPEAT, they REMEMBER! Also don’t forget the importance of motivation…Choose toys that your child enjoys playing with because these toys will help to encourage your child to communicate! One last thing, have fun and don’t be afraid to be silly and animated… Your little one will love it and be more inclined to start talking!