by Lindsey Wegner, M.A., CCC-SLP
Every speech-language pathologist (SLP) can relate to the
struggle of finding the right materials to use during therapy
sessions, especially when working with preschool-aged children
who require many different activities. Choosing just the right
items to engage children as they improve their language and
articulation skills can be a difficult task. It’s important to
include toys that encourage and increase social engagement
and cognitive skills, as well as receptive and expressive language
skills. Here are a few essentials to fill your speech and language
No Spill Bubbles - Use bubbles in a variety of ways to increase vocabulary,
articulation, oral motor skills, and joint attention skills (when one individual
alerts another to an object by means of eye-gazing, pointing, or other
verbal or non-verbal indications). Most children love bubbles, so the SLP can
also use them as a great reinforcement tool.
Search Bag - Place different items inside a pillowcase, canvas bag, or
another bag made with material that is difficult to see through. Have
the child reach inside the bag to find the item you describe. This creates a
sense of excitement, and it’s great for language development.
Ball - Increase joint attention, turn taking, fine motor skills, and vocabulary
skills using a small ball.
Blocks or Building Materials - Simple blocks can assist in targeting basic
concepts vocabulary such as: more, up, down, on top, under, tall, short,
colors, etc. When you finish building with the blocks, it is fun to knock
them down and start over again.
Toy Animals - Animals often play a part in learning early vocabulary. The
child can imitate animal sounds in learning how to articulate early speech
Doll - Dolls provide numerous activities and opportunities to learn and
practice language and vocabulary. Activities such as naming body parts
and participating in joint play lead to understanding verbs, sentence
building, answering questions, and more.
Picture Books - Books with simple repetition and early vocabulary words are
useful during therapy. The therapist can make it entertaining by emulating
sounds and using different intonations while reading. Interactive books
with sections to open and close, touch, or move are also engaging.
8. Graduated Stacking Rings - These simple motivational toys for children help
develop reasoning and fine motor skills.
Wind-Up Toys - Target joint attention, asking for help, understanding simple
commands, and work on fine motor skills using these small toys.
10. Puzzles - Target receptive and expressive skills using puzzles with different
scenes, numbers, letters, animals, etc. For preschool-aged children, puzzles
with wooden pegs or tiny knobs are best for little hands.
A well-packed speech and language bag can help an SLP keep children engaged with
numerous activities, making every therapy session more productive and fun for everyone!