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Speech-building Activities for Busy Toddler Parents and Educators

As a toddler parent or educator, we want to help them learn and develop new language skills in fun and engaging ways. However, finding the time and energy to create a structured practice schedule outside of speech sessions or preschool can feel overwhelming. To help, we've created two different speech-building schedules to help you incorporate speech and language-building ideas into your daily activities. Follow along to find out how to optimize your toddler's language learning potential through simple, day-to-day activities!



speech-building activities


First Things First

Before we dive into the schedules, let's review two important SLP (speech-language pathologist)-approved strategies we share with all of our Speech SF families.


First, make more comments instead of asking questions. For example, if you're playing outside, you can say "run!" or "let's go!", or point out things you see, such as "I see a yellow flower!".


Next, get down on their level and use visual cues. What are visual cues? Simply getting face-to-face, in their line of sight counts! Facial movements (think smiling, puckering lips, blowing) are also developmental precursors to making sounds. Seeing facial movements up close is helpful in a child’s attempts to try new sounds and words. Think about how hard it is to differentiate sounds and letters on the phone. As adults, we can support them in learning new words by making a quick adjustment and getting on their level, face-to-face.


Now that you have our two foundational speech-building strategies, let's move on to the daily speech-schedules. Our first activity is a morning routine - a time when many young children are alert and ready to chat away!


Speech-Building Activities for the Weekday Routine


Morning Meal Times:

During breakfast or snack time, make simple comments about the food or drinks they are having. Use descriptive words like "apple", "yummy", or "hot". Offer a couple of choices for them to choose from, which helps expand their vocabulary (e.g. "apple or orange?"). It's okay if they choose by grabbing after you ask. Our goal is to continue giving verbal models regardless if they use the word later. Don’t forget to use more comments than questions to give your child as many models as possible!


Movement:

In the afternoon, if the weather allows, get outside! You can take a walk around the block and include comments about the environment or point out things you see, such as "I see a bird! It's flying in the sky". Use some of the simple phrases from the Toddler Home Practice file. Download it here if you haven’t already: 


Daily.2-3wordPhrases
.pdf
Download PDF • 141KB

Bath Time:

Then, during bath time, label different toys, make noises with the toys or label parts of their body without asking them to repeat it. Try to make it a game by counting as you wash each body part.


Story Time:

Finally, during story time before bed, ask your toddler to point out things in the book (e.g. “Where’s the dog?”), label them (e.g. ”I see a blue star!”), and talk about what's happening in the story (e.g.”They are playing!”). Again, we are giving them models, making lots of comments and having fun! No pressure to make new sounds here! This is where we see change happen.


Weekend routine

Our second schedule is a more flexible routine and offers different activities to diversify language practice.


Cooking Together:

Choose a simple recipe that you can do together, like pancakes or sandwiches. While preparing the food together, use words like "mix", "pour", "stir", "spread", and "slice". Make silly noises while you mix, pour, or stir (e.g. “weeee”, “woosh”, “mixmixmix”). These don’t have to be real words or make any sense. Practice following directions by asking your child to get the next ingredient!


Scavenger Hunt:

Another engaging activity is a scavenger hunt. Have them help you find things around the house or classroom - ask them to find items and pair it with a color "red shoe", "yellow ball", or "green apple". Let them have a turn hiding a toy for you to find! Describe the toy and play with it once you find it!


Movement:

In the afternoon, choose a fun activity that involves movement, like jumping, kicking a ball, or running. Use simple descriptive phrases like "jump high", "kick the ball", or "run fast", like we mentioned earlier. You can also fill up a bucket of water and play with cups, spoons, and toys in the water while describing what they are doing with the toys (e.g. ”cup”, ”fill up”, “wet”, “water”, “splash!”).



Creating Communication Moments

Growing a toddler’s language skills is a fun-filled journey that can be done in everyday routines. As a parent or educator, incorporating home and school practice ideas into daily activities is a chance to see a child’s communication development flourish. By using the above suggested activities in coordination with commenting more, and getting on their level, you can make every moment an opportunity for talking!


Looking for in-person speech therapy or coaching? Schedule a call with us.



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