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newborn baby Speech and Listening Ideas Insights Solutions 

For Babies

Infographic: Building Language Skills
It is so important to work on speech at home. We talk to our pets, and most people agree that they respond and understand language. And they have their own way of communicating back. I have a beagle and her expressions and the speed of her tail wagging are tell tale signs of her trying to comunicate with us.
There is a point that I want to make about reading for babies. They both have receptive language skills; they can process language BUT can not use language (words) to communicate. A baby learns language from the sounds we make when we read, the speed we use when producing those words, our expressions and the pitch in our voices.
Associating the sound of the word DOG comes along much faster when they have heard the word from books that you have read. They study our mouth movement when we make sounds, and word association develops from our expressions, the enviroment and our emotions that affect the pace and pitch we use when making the sounds.
The whole process of learning to use or inderstand speech and language is dependant on what experiences parents and teachers give them in their first months. 

So, there is really no reason not to read to your babies.

It truly helps to expose your child to new and familiar words and language no matter what you are doing as a reinforcment or exposure. Plus you get to demonstrate good book manners early.   
Talking to babies the Montessori way involves using a calm and respectful tone of voice, addressing them by their name, and using simple, clear language. Engage in face-to-face conversations and let them have time to respond. Make eye contact and give them your full attention to make them feel valued and heard. Use descriptive language to talk about their environment and point out interesting objects. Avoid baby talk and instead use real words and correct grammar to help develop their language skills. Let them explore and discover on their own, and follow their lead in their learning journey.

As parents, we naturally want to communicate with our babies but it can be difficult at times to know how to talk to them effectively. This is where the Montessori method comes in.

The Montessori approach to communication with babies is all about respecting their intelligence and communicating in a way they understand. Maria Montessori, the founder of the method, believed that babies are born intelligent and capable of learning from their environment. By talking to them in a clear and respectful way, we can help to foster their development.

Here are some tips on how to talk to babies the Montessori way:

  • Use simple language: Babies learn best from clear and simple language. Avoid using baby talk and instead use short, clear sentences to communicate with your baby. For example, instead of saying, “Oh, look at the pretty wittle baby!” say, “Hello, baby. How are you today?”

  • Give them time to respond: When you talk to your baby, it’s important to give them time to respond. This helps them to process what you’re saying and develop their own language skills. Embrace pauses and give them time to think and respond in their own way.

  • Use eye contact: Eye contact is important in any conversation, including with babies. When you talk to your baby, make sure you make eye contact and engage with them on their level.

  • Use real objects: Babies learn best from real objects that they can touch, feel, and explore. When you talk to your baby, use real objects to help them understand what you’re saying. For example, show them a toy car when you say “car” or take them outside to see a real tree when you say “tree.”

  • Follow their lead: Babies are natural explorers and will often show interest in different things. When you talk to your baby, follow their lead and talk about what they’re interested in. For example, if they’re looking at a flower, talk about the color and the petals.

By talking to your baby the Montessori way, you can help to foster their language development and give them the tools they need to communicate effectively with the world around them. Remember to be patient, and respectful, and engage with them on their level.

Pediatricians all over the world have been urging parents to start reading to their children from birth. While many may dismiss it as just another parental advice, research shows that early reading is indeed crucial for the child’s brain and language development.

As many parents would know, reading helps with developing vocabulary, but it also does much more than that. A child’s brain is like a sponge in the early years and picking up language skills is crucial for their growth and development. When a parent or a caretaker reads to a child, they not only introduce new words and sounds but also engage the child in a conversation. This helps the child build better communication skills and cognitive abilities.

The Montessori community recommends books with realistic pictures, black and white patterned pictures, and books with a lot of people’s faces. Realistic pictures help the child better recognize objects and animals, while black-and-white patterns are easier for young babies to see and can help with their visual development. Books with people’s faces are also great as babies are naturally attracted to faces and this can help them with developing social skills.

Apart from reading to young children, it is essential to encourage them to read and engage with books as they grow older. A child who learns to love reading will have a much easier time adapting to new knowledge and acquiring new skills. It is also a great way for them to unwind and relax, which is essential in this day and age where screens and social media are so prevalent.


7 Easy Ideas Families Can do to Help Develop Language Skills at Home

Parents are helping develop their child’s language skills at home, they may just not realize it.

Speech therapists can empower families by sharing ways those daily activities are improving communication skills.

Here are a few examples.

Simple teletherapy speech therapy activities to that engage families building background knowledge
  1. Building Background Knowledge

We know that building background knowledge carries over to reading comprehension.

With the spread of the coronavirus more therapists are providing speech therapy through telepractice. We have an opportunity for kids to engage in more real life experiences.

Instead of using flashcards to sequence events like baking cookies, coach families on making them at home.

Skills to target: sequencing, first / next / last, following directions

Vocabulary suggestions: pour, mix, roll, burn, taste, melt, gooey, cool…

Easy Ideas Families Can do to Help Develop Language Skills at Home Retell Events.

2. Retelling events

Looking through family photo albums is a wonderful way to retell important events.

Take advantage of the visuals to ask who, what and where questions.

What does the child remember about when the photo was taken?

Can you expand on what they said?

Easy Ideas Families Can do to Help Develop Language Skills at Home Conversations Skills..

3. Sharing information

Many families are connecting with friends and family online.

This is a great time to practice conversation skills.

Is the child staying on topic?

Can they share information?

To make this experience a little easier for kids have them prepare something to share ahead of time, like show and tell.

Easy Ideas Families Can do to Help Develop Language Skills at Home develop executive functioning skills.

4. Developing Executive Functioning Skills

If you wanting to raise independent teens, start teaching them to how to complete tasks on their own while they are young.

Having kids help at home is a great way to build life skills.

Completing tasks such as folding laundry helps to develop:

  • initiation

  • organization

  • planning

  • problem solving

  • self monitoring

  • task completion

Easy Ideas Families Can do to Help Develop Language Skills at Home develop self expression.

5. Self Expression

Art and craft activities are a perfect chance for your child to take the lead.

  • Let them make choices.

  • What are their interests?

  • How do they communicate their wants and needs during the activity.

  • Can they tell you about what they created?

Easy Ideas Families Can do to Help Develop Language Skills at Home develop social skills and problem solving.

6. Problem Solving

Families have been spending lots of time together since schools have been shut down. There is bound to be some conflict.

Help kids work through disagreements by

  1. stating the problem

  2. expressing how they feel

  3. discussing solutions

  4. compromise and apologize

Easy Ideas Families Can do to Help Develop Language Skills at Home explore interests

7. Exploring Interests

With extra time at home kids have the freedom to explore new interests.

Maybe there are hobbies that parents would like to pass down to their children.

Encourage families to learn a new skill.

  • Talk through the experience together.

  • Let kids ask questions

  • Can they ask for help when needed?

  • Share what you’ve learned with others.

7 early ideas families can do to help develop language skills at home. Parents and caregivers can build their child language skills at home by retelling stories and exploring interests. Learn more by clicking here.

Organization: Can you believe this site has even more speech kits?


Anyone who knows me CAN believe that.  I did get an award from work that I was most likely to be featured on a very special SLP version of Hoarders.


Here are the last kits that I made:

CVCV and CVCVC boxes

I use these a lot with my younger clients who are just learning how to imitate to teach how to mark syllables.  I’ve taken the Kaufman Apraxia course and so I set them up similar (based on what I could find) to some of her therapy targets.  We can pull these out and play with them or sometimes I like to hide them in rice or popcorn bins for my clients to find.

Alphabet Boxes

Years ago, I bought a set of alphabet boxes on Ebay.  It was similar to Lakeshore Learnings Alphabet tubs but about 1/2 the price.

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 8.48.30 AM

I looked and I don’t think they sell them anymore.  Each box came with 10 small objects that started with each letter.  I even had a box of vowel sounds.  I’ve added to these boxes as I’ve found little objects.  I even created a box of /s/ blend objects.  I feel like /s/ blends are my arch enemy.  Once kids get them it improves their intelligibility so much that it is worth it.  But we always go through about a three month period where they just think I’m crazy and LOVE it when they put /s/ in front of anything.  Ssssssmiss Ssssssskellly?   Minimal pairs help some but not enough.  Pick up a bunch of Glad tupperware and some sticker paper and you could be on your way towards making these kits.  Here’s what’s in my /s/ blend box:

  • Spiderman

  • Spooky ghost

  • Spiders

  • Stick

  • Stickers

  • Stop sign

  • Sponge Bob

  • Star Wars figures

  • Skate board

  • Toy Slide

Social Language Kit

I’ve posted about this kit before.  I really enjoy working with clients who have pragmatic language difficulties-but there is ALOT of prep that goes into these groups.   I created this box so that I would have a lot of materials on hand-and hopefully decrease some of my prep time.

Most of the materials in this kit are designed to complement Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking® Curriculum.  To learn more about the Social Thinking® and the vocabulary listed below please refer to her website:

To organize my cabinet, I started by getting all of the same type of storage boxes so that they stacked easily.  I typed out the materials in the kit, labeled it Social Skills and then used contact paper to secure the sheet to my container.  These are the materials in my Social Skills Box:

  • Balanced Weight Scale from Learning Resources.  To work on conversational turn taking and balanced conversations.

  • Jello Brain Mold I purchased from Target after Halloween to work on Flexible Thinking©  and also the ideas of different kinds of Social Smarts©.

  • A Rock and a Flexible Brain© purchased from Social Thinking®.

  • Mini Magnifying glasses purchased at a party goods store to focus on looking for social clues or being a Social Detective.

  • Giant Body parts purchased at the dollar store to focus on Whole Body Listening concepts and Thinking with your eyes©.

  • Magnetic Poetry Emotion Faces.  I like these because it breaks it down to what are the eyes feeling/what is the mouth feeling.

  • Shoe NotePads to go with Jenna Rayburn’s In your Shoes Pragmatic Download as well as other perspective taking in your shoes activities.

  • Chalkboard paper thought bubbles I purchased at Michaels.

This year I also added smaller Brain molds I picked up at Target and red, yellow, blue and green vase gems.   I had seen a post from the Speech House an awesome post about working on thoughts by placing marbles into a cup.  You can read the whole post HERE.   We use Zones of Regulation at the clinic, so I thought this would be a great way to reinforce the idea of zones with clients or students.  Each client gets a brain mold, and I just add gems throughout the session.


That’s it for kits that I have so far.  I’d like to create more concept kits.  Soft/Hard would be an easy one.  I already have a fabric and hard plastic potato head.  I could add stuffed animals/beanie babies and the harder action figure/toy.  Ex. Mickey mouse beanie, with plastic Mickey mouse toy.  Do you have great ideas for kits?  I can’t wait to hear about them!   As always, if you found this post helpful or interesting, I’d LOVE it if you could take the time to share with others on Pinterest by clicking on any of the above pictures.

Related Posts

Speech Therapy Activities During Daily Routines That Increase Family Engagement

Ideas for Increasing Language by Having Kids Help out at Home

How to Promote Speech and Language Development

With Easy Movement Activities

Did you know that movement activities may help to improve your child's speech and language development? Here are three to try today!

Kids love to move.

Kids need to move.

We need kids to move.

You’ve likely heard about the extensive benefits of physical activity, over and over again. Movement activities help kids sleep soundly and stay calm. They help reduce their problem behaviors and improve their cognitive skills. They increase attention and memory abilities. (1)

But did you know that movement activities also promote speech and language development in your child?

It might not be immediately obvious how physical activity and communication are interrelated, but they are.

Kids jumping in puddles wearing rain boots and splashing mud. This movement activity that is a tip for helping to develop language.

How Movement Activities Promote Speech and Language Development

Have you ever heard of the vestibular system? This system is related to body movement and balance, and it’s activated whenever your child engages in physical activity. When he runs or jumps, climbs or somersaults, dances and freezes, his vestibular system is involved.

And guess what. Research tells us that the vestibular system plays a HUGE role in speech and language development. In fact, if your child has difficulties processing vestibular input, he is more likely to have a speech delay. (2)

Motor Planning, Articulation, and the Vestibular System

For one, the vestibular system helps your child’s brain with motor planning. And motor planning is important to speech development.

Speech requires that your child move an unbelievable number of tiny muscles –– and coordinate those movements –– every time he produces even one single word! And what if your little one cannot adequately process information related to muscle movements? It’s possible that this manifests as a speech disorder. This might mean apraxia of speech or an articulation disorder. (2, 3)

Receptive Language and the Vestibular System

You probably knew that your child’s auditory (hearing) system was involved in his ability to listen to you. But that’s not the only one! When it comes to receptive language, the vestibular system works with your child’s auditory system.

Why? Because not only does he need to hear your words when you speak to him, but he needs to determine where those words are coming from and who is producing them. And then he needs to focus on those words to process them. If he’s unable to do any of these things, he’ll show difficulties with skills like following directions, understanding questions, responding to his name. Later, he might struggle with engaging in conversation. (3)

So, you know the benefits of movement activities. But time is limited. I get it. You don’t want the limited time you have for targeting speech and language development to be spent with your child running around the yard’s perimeter.

What if you could do both? Target speech and language development while engaging your child in movement activities?

You can. Enter: movement games for speech and language learning.

Three Favorite Movement Activities for Speech and Language Development

Choose your games and goals carefully! Be sure to keep in mind the skills your little one needs to develop. We want the movement activities to be fun, functional, and individualized. I’ve collected three favorite movement games and easy speech and language targets for each. These games and many more are available in Speech and Language at Home’s Early Intervention Handouts for Play Skills.

Young girl hanging from playground equipment. This obstacle courses is a movement games that can develop speech and language learning.

Ring Around the Rosie

This age-old movement game is consistently a hit with the children I see. With the circular rotating and silly falling, it’s full of good movement input for your child’s developing brain.

Ring Around the Rosie is also perfect for teaching requests, given how quick the game is. And you can help your child practice requesting, even if he is not yet verbal!

To begin, simply engage your child in one round of the game. When it’s over, and you’re both sitting on the floor laughing, pause and wait. Does your child look at you expectantly? Does he take your hands to hold them? Maybe he vocalizes or gestures to show you that he wants to play again? You can verbally say or sign “again” or “more” to model a more mature request. Or use a picture card! Over time, your child may make a request independently.

Hokey Pokey

You probably remember Hokey Pokey from your own childhood. With the isolated movements of body parts, the shaking, and the spinning, the brain gets lots of important stimulation.

Hokey Pokey is perfect for teaching imitation. And, if you remember, imitation is a fundamental skill when it comes to speech and language development. 

If your child is preverbal, practice imitating the actions of the game! Does he follow your lead, putting his hand in the circle and taking it out? Does he shake it when you do? If he needs a little help, try some gentle physical prompting. After a while, especially because the song is repetitive, your child may begin to imitate the lyrics, too!

Obstacle Course

Who doesn’t love a good obstacle course? The best part about an obstacle course is its versatility. Use whatever you have around the house on any given day to change up the course and encourage different movements. Try cushions to crash on, laundry baskets to climb over, tables to crawl under, hula hoops to jump through, and more.

And remember those basic concepts we need kids to learn? An obstacle course works perfectly to target them –– especially spatial concepts.

As they go around, through, under, and over obstacles, highlight the respective words! If your child needs support, do the course together! Hold hands or have him follow you. As he develops an understanding of the spatial concepts, make the course harder. Give directions for what comes next, and see if he can follow them.

Keep Movement Activities Therapeutic

Load the movement games with lots of fun, but don’t forget to keep them therapeutic.

Take data. This will help you see progress over time in your little one’s speech and language development. Our Early Intervention Handouts for Play Skillsinclude datasheets for each movement game to make data-taking simple.

Incorporate other kinds of play. Are you wearing your child out on the movement activities? Try other fun activities, too, with classic toys and Do-It-Yourself play materials. These are also included in the handouts.

For now, get moving!

How would you like to help your child's speech using play? Movement activities can help improve your child's speech and language development! Click here to see my 3 favorite movement activities for speech and language development. |Speech Therapy fo…


  1. Movement can increase learning in children

  2. Sensory integration dysfunction affects efficacy of speech therapy on children with functional articulation disorders

  3. Effective interventions for sensory integration and speech delays

Handouts for Play Skills Early Intervention Speech Therapy Activities


How to Help Your Child with a Speech Delay



Make Basic Concepts Fun With These Simple Activities


Improving Baby’s Hearing Health With Music for Babies™

Creating Music for Babies™ was in the back of our minds since the early beginnings of Advanced Brain Technologies (ABT). We know that they can not produce sounds and words that do not hear. Research continues to show that music is a useful and powerful tool to maximize human potential. So it was natural for us to want to develop a musical product that would promote neurological development for the very young. We can say with confidence that "Music for Babies™" this is more than music. Just as food nourishes a baby’s growing body, the elements of music – melody, rhythm, tone and harmony – foster the brain growth crucial to healthy young minds.

By playing Music for Babies, you as a parent or caretaker can actively support optimum brain development. You can build a strong foundation for later learning, language development, and music ability to help each child achieve their extraordinary and unique potential.


“The act of hearing, influences the quality of auditory and sensory development,” says Lise Eliot, Ph.D. in What’s Going On In There? Her book explains how the brain and mind develop in the first five years of life. All the listening that babies do, including their time in the womb, shapes the way their brains become wired to process and understand different sounds. Eliot goes on to say that this development is not just limited to the auditory system, but that “children’s early experience with speech and music is tremendously important in shaping many higher aspects of brain function, including emotion, language, and other cognitive abilities.”

Incredible Horizons wants to draw your attention to Advanced Brain Technologies’ award-winning Music for Babies™, a beautiful way to mask “toxic noise,” a genuine threat to hearing health, which is present in nearly every home and childcare center today. 

The Cornell Chronicle reported a study that shows that children don’t tune out sound per se when they are in a chronically noisy environment; instead, they have difficulty acquiring speech recognition skills. As early as 1975, one researcher found that children on the train-track side of a New York public school were lagging a year behind their classmates on the other side of the building in learning to read.

Even relatively low levels of noise – 55 to 60 decibels (dB) can interfere with conversation. The danger zone for hearing loss begins at about 85 dB. The sound of toys can range up to 100 dB. Even a baby’s rattle can be as high as 110 dB. To give you an idea of noise levels in most of our environments, here are some decibel examples:

Hair Dryer: 75-90db
Lawn Mower: 90-100db
Leaf Blower: 95-115db
Rock Concert: 110-120db
Portable Stereo: 115db (max vol.)

City Traffic: 80-100db
Jet Engines: 140db
Subway Trains: 100db
Fireworks: 130-190db
Handgun/Rifle: 160-170db

Research continues to show that music is a useful, powerful tool to maximize human potential. So, it was natural for us to want to develop a musical product that would promote neurological development for the very young.

A primary objective for creating Music for Babies was to help prevent auditory-based learning, attention, and developmental problems in young children. Our development team included experts from the fields of neurodevelopment, child development, education, music, music therapy, sound engineering, and recording.

We included lullabies from many cultures, including French, English, and Welsh, to help a child fall asleep. For playtime and creating a happy mood, we selected several pieces that Mozart wrote when he was a little boy. He began composing at age four, and his early compositions were simple, bright, and happy.

Music for Babies

Tracks include classical music, folk tunes, lullabies, and nursery rhymes specifically arranged to enhance a baby’s brain development while providing a nurturing environment.

Sleepy Baby
Four psychoacoustic treatments were utilized in Sleepy Baby. The volume softens track by track from the beginning selection to the end, which helps the child settle down and drift off to sleep. It also means a parent does not need to turn the music off once the baby goes to sleep. The tempo gradually slows from a range of 70-40 beats per minute to encourage the baby’s system to slow down. The frequency range of notes progressively gets lower. Last, the music gradually sounds farther away. The combination of these mellow sounds and treatments helps produce a calming and restful feeling and helps to induce sleep. Sound byte


Peaceful Baby
Peaceful Baby contains very delicate and beautiful music to help calm and relax a little one and creates the environment for a quiet mood. Prior experience has shown that improvised playing with an instrument encourages a deeper brain wave state in the performer, which extends to the listener as well. So relaxing, improvised melodies were recorded. We chose slower tempos and rhythms of 50-90 beats per minute to encourage entrainment. Instruments on this album include harp, strings, flute, and celeste; all played gently to create a calming effect. A treatment called frequency equalization was used to remove any high frequencies that might startle a child. Pieces such as “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” “Lambs Are Sleeping,” and “Gaelic Cradle Song” were arranged to engage a child’s attention, and gradually slow down their body rhythms.


Cheerful Baby
Cheerful Baby will improve a baby’s mood. This album has a more upbeat tempo of 60-120 beats per minute, to energize brain function. Instruments were used, and arrangements were created for their effect on alertness. We created a rich spatial environment to develop listening abilities and to encourage the development of other senses as well. Subtle, unexpected arrangements and sound that moves from side to side stimulate active listening. The music selected for this album has a rich, full-spectrum sound, especially in the higher frequencies, which are known to charge the brain.


Playful Baby
Playful Baby became an opportunity to stimulate listening in an expanded way, adding a variety of sounds that complement the music. When you hear “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep,” you will also hear the sound of a lamb. On Bizet’s “Gallop,” you will listen to the sound of horses’ hooves, with the sound going from one side of the room to the other as the horses gallop past. And yes, that’s a real cuckoo you hear in the “Toy Symphony!” The variety of sounds interwoven with the music, which ranges from 80-140 beats per minute, is designed to stimulate active listening. The movement of sounds and instruments from side to side will also help develop spatial awareness.


Music for Babies has not only inspired listeners but has received various national and international awards and endorsements from respected authorities on child development and children’s media. Awards and endorsements include; The Parents’ Choice Award, National Coalition for Quality Children’s Media “KIDS FIRST!” endorsement, Dr. Toy’s 10 Best Audio/Video winner, and 100 Best Children’s Products winner, The Dove Foundation, along with numerous professional and parent praises.

Just as food nourishes a baby’s growing body, the elements of music – melody, rhythm, tone, and harmony – foster the brain growth crucial to healthy young minds. By playing Music for Babies, you, as a parent or caretaker, can actively support optimum brain development. You can build a strong foundation for later learning, language development, and music ability to help each child achieve their extraordinary and unique potential.


Written by
Dorothy Lockhart Lawrence, PhD

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How to Boost Early Communication With Common Items

In today’s post, I’m sharing strategies to build early communication skills using everyday items readily available this fall.

In graduate school, a professor once told me that a great therapist could do speech and language therapy with a box of paperclips and nothing else.

At first, I laughed. I thought she was kidding.

To a brand new clinician, the idea was daunting.

Doing therapy with something as simple as a paperclip? But how?

Although more than a little extreme, there was a bit of gold in this professor’s statement. Her message was an important one.

Nobody needs fancy, expensive toys or tools to effectively prevent and treat speech and language disorders. 

We can –– in fact, we should –– use everyday items in our home to boost early communication skills. Here’s why.

Why Use Everyday Items for Early Communication Success

There are five main reasons, ranging from practical to financial to therapeutic, to use everyday items in therapy. Today, I’m sharing three. (Check back for more!)

Generalize Skills

Remember that buzzword I told you about in this post? Naturalistic. In case you missed it, research in the therapy world tells us that, for children to benefit the most, interventions should be naturalistic. This means focusing on everyday people, everyday places, and –– you got it –– everyday items. And this is especially true for the little ones learning early communication skills.

Now, if you’re wondering why naturalistic interventions are the gold standard, I’ve got another word for you: generalization, also known as carryover. When we use familiar, everyday items to teach skills, a child will acquire these skills more rapidly and fully. This is because they are exposed to these items outside of therapy time. They naturally have more opportunities to practice targeted skills throughout the day. What’s more, these opportunities are meaningful and relevant.

Save Money

Using items around the house for therapy means that you can forgo the online shopping purchases you had planned. Advertisers of therapy tools and toys want you to believe otherwise, but you can encourage early communication and deliver plenty of high-quality therapy with the things you’ve already bought –– items you use frequently for eating, cleaning, cooking, gardening, and more.

Believe it or not, your home is already stocked with therapy tools. And, with some help, you’ll start to see the items you use daily for all their therapeutic potential!

Target Various Goals

Everyday items provide flexibility with regard to therapy targets. And this makes them efficient teaching tools. With limited space in our homes, schools, and clinics, I find there’s nothing worse than a therapy tool that only targets one goal.

Give me a spoon and I’ll show you how to target everything from sound imitation to sentence building. Show me a broom and I’ll give you tips for teaching everything from turn-taking to fluent speech to narratives.

How to Use Everyday Items in Therapy With Your Early Communicator

Start by thinking about the items that you frequently use in your house during the fall months. Even better: make a list. What things do you eat regularly? What kinds of chores and activities are fall-specific, and what items do you use for these? Be curious and observant.

Next, consider your child’s current goals. Write them down. Do you have an early communicator who is working on imitating skills and early play? Does he or she understand the language you’re using, or do you notice difficulties with comprehension? Is your child saying words, but struggling to combine them?

Finally, get creative. Think about each everyday item and how you might use it to meet therapy goals. 

Before long, this process will become a quick and natural one!

Here’s an Example: the Spoon

How to Boost Early Communication With Common Items like spoons

I can’t think of a more accessible therapy tool than a spoon. Every home has one! With the weather growing colder and soup season in full swing, this utensil gets its moment in the fall. Your child is probably seeing one on a daily basis, so make all these exposures count!

If Your Child Needs Help With...

Try This...


Bring the spoon to your lips and make a smacking/eating sound. Say “mmm” and rub your belly. See if your child will imitate these sounds or actions.

Pretend play

Find a stuffed animal or doll. Will your child pretend to feed it with the spoon? Model this kind of play!

Following directions

Give your child a direction. Start with something simple and routine (“Feed the baby”). If your child is ready for something more challenging, try a silly direction (“Put the spoon on your head”) or a more complex direction (“Give me a bite and then put the spoon in the sink”).

Symbolic play

Play “doctor” with your child. Will he or she pretend the spoon is a thermometer?  

Word combinations

Practice combining words to make small phrases related to the spoon. You could say, “Mommy eat,” “Yummy soup,” “Eat soup,” “Mommy’s soup,” and more while you eat dinner.

Phonological Awareness

If you add a pot and pretend to cook food, you can play with rhyming words like “pot” and “hot” while you stir contents with the spoon. Add some extra ingredients and say “We got a lot!”


Grab a second spoon from the drawer! Emphasize the /s/ at the end of the word when you say “Two spoons!”


Use as many words as you can to describe your spoon! Is it big or little? Long or short? What color is it? Does it feel cold? Is it hard?

“S” sound and “Sp” blends

A spoon is a great tool for teaching tricky sounds and blends. Use it as a tactile prompt while you practice the word “spoon.” Run your finger down the spoon while making the /s/ sound. When you reach the end, add the /p/ and the rest of the word. See if your child will do the same! Try other festive fall words with the same strategy (spooky, spider, spice, and spell).

Reinforcement / Motivation

Keep kids motivated in any therapy activity by making spoons tokens that can be exchanged for a reward. When your child hits his or her target accurately, they get a spoon. Five spoons (or however many you determine) earns them something motivating (e.g., a break, a treat, a toy, etc.).

We’ve Curated 36 Everyday Items and Their Uses for You

Everyday Items for Speech Therapy Early Intervention Speech Therapy Activities

We know that brainstorming therapy strategies can take some time and energy that you don’t have. So we’ve done the work for you!

For a guide complete with everyday items and their therapeutic uses through fall (and other seasons!), check out this parent handout from Speech and Language at Home. You’ll get 36 everyday items and simple, effective, and meaningful ways to use each for building your child’s early communication skills.

(Remember to use items safely and always with a supervising adult.)

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Speech therapy. How to develop your child's speech with play.

Helping develop your child's speech through play.

We're always told not to compare children. They're all different and all do things in their own way, in their own time. In fact, a favourite quote of mine is,

"Not all children are ready to learn the same thing at the same time in the same way." 

Kathy Walker

However, even knowing and understanding all of this, when my son did not start to communicate verbally in a similar way to how his older sister had, I admit that I felt quite concerned. 

I'd done everything the same. He'd been read to since birth (a lot), talked to and chatted with constantly. We made sounds , did rhymes, sung songs and played together. 

But, unlike his sister, he did not choose to naturally communicate verbally and would refuse to mimic sounds or try new words. 

His non-verbal communication was spot on and he was always able to get across what he wanted (which was encouraging) but oral language was not something that came easily to him.

My child is showing a delay in their speech development.
Where do I start?

Being a teacher, I was aware that early intervention is very important when it comes to children and learning difficulties, so despite all the advice I was getting from people to, "Just wait, it'll happen," I needed to do something about it myself and ensure that I was giving him the best start that I could. 

My son was about 19-20 months old when I first sought out external advice. 

Many people will say that it's too early to really start getting concerned before 2 years old, but you know your own child better than anyone.

If you're concerned for any reason, it's better to seek out assistance than possibly stressing out unnecessarily for months and months.

When concerned about your child's speech development 

the first people to speak to are your child's doctor and maternal health nurse. Through them, they can organise and refer you for any specialists and tests.

We started by getting an assessment of where his development was at, as well as organising for a hearing test.

This is usually a good starting point. From there, doctors and professionals are able to see if there are any particular issues that might be delaying speech and start to rule things out.

As his hearing was fine, the next step for us was being referred to a Speech Pathologist.  

Many speech pathologists are private practice here in Australia and can be quite pricey if your child needs regular sessions. 

There are ways to get into government subsidised classes so talk to your GP or Maternal Health Nurse about how and where you can sign up for them. There is often a waiting list though and the spots will often go to children in higher need (such as older children).

We went to a few sessions with a private Speech Pathologist and after observing, listening and discussing the best ways to help my son develop his oral language, I was confident that I could take over and continue to help him myself at home without the added cost of a weekly therapy bill.

10 tips to help your child develop their speech through play at home

It was clear from the speech pathology sessions I attended, that my son was on the verge of talking but that helping him form those words was going to take a bit more of a concentrated effort than his older sister required. 

Having the speech pathologist confirm my original beliefs that learning through play was always going to be the best way was encouraging, and gaining the understanding of how I could go about better approaching this play time with him, in order to best help develop his speech, was also something of great value.

The main points that I learned about trying to encourage speech development through play are:

1) For your child to develop their speech, they have to practice. It can be tricky getting reluctant speakers to talk, so engaging them in meaningful play and activities where they are naturally encouraged to participate in talking, is essential.

2) One-on-one play time is very important. 

Make regular times (at least once daily for a minimum of 10-15 minutes) to sit down with your child, without other distractions and engage with them. (This can be tricky with other siblings around but it's important that they have this uninterrupted time with you)

3) Look at your child's interests and try to engage them with these interests. Eg. If they are really into animals, plan your one-on-one play times to involve playing with animals. 

If they are always very active and struggle to sit still, try to play together in a way that allows them to move whilst still encouraging them to talk.

4) When speaking to your child during these one-on-one play times, use clear, short sentences that are directly related to the play Eg. While playing with your animals, move the cow and say "the COW says MOO. mooooo" 

When the cow is knocked over, "Oops, the COW FELL DOWN." 

When you jump the cow over a fence, "the COW JUMPED OVER the FENCE."

You don't have to speak like this to your child all the time, just during your one-on-one play times. Focus the language on useful words that will help your child communicate better.

  • Prepositions such as, "on, in, out, off, up" etc. 

  • verbs such as "drink, eat, jump, play, read." and 

  • nouns, eg. "Mum, Dad, hand, foot, cup" etc.

5) Give your child a chance to respond. 

Often it will take children longer to process your question or what is being spoken about and for them to think of an appropriate response and say it. 

It's easy for adults and other children to jump in with the answer after a couple of seconds when it seems as though the child is not going to respond, but you need to allow a good 10 seconds or more for them to attempt to answer verbally.

6) Find new and engaging ways to play with them that allow you opportunities to practice other words. Eg. Blowing bubbles with them will allow you to practice the language that will come naturally with that activity, such as, "more," "bubbles," and "blow." Playing with cars can encourage language such as, "go," "stop," "drive," "brrrrrroooom," and "beep beep." 

(Here are 10 ideas you could try)

7) If your child has particular sounds that they are struggling with, eg. saying "wewy" instead of "very," try and find ways to play that will naturally include that language. Eg. Build a tower together. A tower that is VERY, VERY tall! Use that time to say and practice the language as much as possible.

8) Repeat

what your child says, clearly and correctly so that they can hear how it should sound and reinforce the language that goes with the action. Eg. If your child indicates you to blow more bubbles by saying, "mor," you can say, "More. More bubbles?" and wait for their response. 

Trying to engage them in conversation and take it further is important. Your child might now nod, or say "yes," or say "more" again. You could then say, "Yes, yes you can have more bubbles."

9) Praise your child for their efforts. Positive reinforcement can work wonders on children so be sure to acknowledge their efforts at communicating verbally and encourage them to continue.

10) Be patient

Try to remember the message at the top of this post, that all children learn at their own pace. 

Your child's development may seem slower than others but so long as it's improving, you should get there. 

Who knows, it may suddenly click for them and you won't be able to stop them talking. Just remember to give them time and not to expect things to suddenly change in an instant. 

Your child might be reluctant to your one-on-one play times at first or not be able to stay focused for a very long period of time, but so long as you keep persisting with it, you should see results.

Please remember that if you are feeling concerned at all about your child's development, if their development stalls or especially if their development starts going backwards, you should seek out advice from experts in these areas. 

Some children will require or greatly benefit from a joint effort from a specialist and parents so it's important that any concerns you have are addressed and you know the best way to go about it with your child.

For practical activity ideas, along with the key vocabulary that you might focus on with each activity, see our

10 activities for helping develop speech post.

For more info and ideas on helping your child develop their language through play, check out these great sites:


Top 10 Speech and Language Apps for Toddlers

Technology is everywhere and kids these days are getting pretty tech-savvy at a very young age.  There are so many apps out there and it can be difficult to figure out which ones are actually educational and which ones are just for entertainment.  I’ve made a list of the apps that I think are most beneficial for toddlers working on speech and language skills.

Furry Friend (Plutinosoft)

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, see our disclosure.

Young children absolutely love this app! It is centered around a puppet named Lenord that you can interact with. It encourages spontaneous language and interaction and also teaches cause and effect as well as making choices.

Monster at the End of This Book (Sesame Street)

I usually prefer real books over tablet versions, but this one is an exception! Reading books together encourages vocabulary development and interactive books on tablets can help keep a child engaged for longer periods of time.  This book in particular is so fun for kids to anticipate what is going to happen next.

Itsy Bitsy Spider (Duck Duck Moose)

I like almost all of the apps by this company.  Songs are great for verbal and motor imitation as well as repetition.  This app in particular is great because it has bright colorful images that teach things such as cause and effect, counting, and identification.

   Top Toddler Activities & Tips

Play Video

Peekaboo Barn (Night and Day Studios)

For kids that aren’t talking yet, animals sound are a fantastic place to start.  The simple consonant-vowel productions are easy to imitate and this app is a fun way to encourage that. I also like how the app pauses briefly to give the child the chance to name the animal before the narrator names it.

NACD Apraxia (Blue Whale Apps)

This is a speech app that is used for kids or adults with apraxia but it is also amazing for any child working on articulation or basic sound combinations.  There are three other versions (two-syllables, endings, and words) that are equally as impressive especially for the price.


Articulation Station Pro (Little Bee Speech)

If you have a child that is currently in speech therapy or needs help working on a lot of different sounds, this is the app for you! It is one of the best and most comprehensive ones I have come across.

It includes flashcards, matching games, and sentence practice for every sound in the English language (a Spanish version is also available).  I use it all the time with my clients.  It is a little pricey ($60) so if you are not sure about it, try downloading the free version first to see how you like it.

AlphaTots Alphabet (Spinlight Studio)

This app encourages alphabet recognition and phonemic awareness.  I love how it says the letter and then the different sounds it makes. Something about this app that stands out to me (and there are A LOT of alphabet apps out there!) is that it uses verbs for every letter of the alphabet. Each page has an activity to illustrate the verb.

Match it Up 1 (MyFirstApp)

This app is great for hand-eye coordination and developing cognitive skills such as matching and categorization.  Parents can also talk about colors and name objects to further develop language skills.

Sago Mini Forest Flyer (Sago Sago)

This exploration app provides the opportunity for an adult to model language and narrate what is happening.  It features a little bird exploring a forest and when you tap on different parts of the screen,  it interacts with the things in its environment.  It is super cute and incredibly engaging for little ones.

Toca Hair Salon 2 (Toca Boca 2)

I love all of the Toca Boca apps! This app is great for encouraging pretend play and creativity.  Kids can cut, color, and style hair in a salon.  Parents can also use this to talk about sequencing (what order you do things) and contrasting adjectives (i.e. long hair vs. short hair or curly hair vs. straight hair).

One last word of advice: Screen time is not recommended for children 18 months and younger.  

For children 2-5 years old, it should be limited to 1 hour a day.  In order to truly get speech and language benefits from these apps, it is best for the parent to be there with the child and talk about what is happening.

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The Complete Guide to Language Learning at Home

Language is a communication skill that develops naturally over time. But that doesn’t mean your child couldn’t use some extra help to begin saying their first words! Speech and language development begins at home with your help. Why not use language activities for toddlers to encourage your child’s speech development even further?

In This Article

How Does Language Develop?

Speech Therapy for Toddlers at Home

Before exploring activities to improve communication skills, we first need to understand how a child’s first words and language skills are developed. Children learn words at first by hearing the word. Then, in time they will begin to see words through reading and quickly begin to understand the meaning behind different words.

However, the most important way for children to learn first words is hearing the word, over and over. The more you say a word, the more your child understands how to . . .

  • Enunciate the word,

  • Use the word correctly,

  • Understand the concept of the word.

When children first begin to speak they formulate words with familiar sounds they hear each day. First words are then reinforced into memory through seeing those words when they read and see pictures that represent the word. After seeing the actual word with the word object, they then begin to understand the meaning behind the word. For example, an “elephant” is no longer just a word, but a child will understand what an “elephant” looks like, sounds like, where it lives, and more.

To help your child learn his or her first words read the article Wonderful Words – Word Learning for Children!

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Using Everyday Routines for Language Development

Positive Parenting

When it comes to learning speech and language, everything around your child can be used. This includes your child’s daily routine. Here are three functional language activities for boosting speech development!

Making a Fruit Salad with Your Toddler

To incorporate language concepts into the basic task of making a fruit salad, try the following in the routine:

  1. Name everything you do in making a fruit salad.

  2. Introduce the idea of categories (different colored fruits, utensils, etc.).

  3. Ask questions about making the fruit salad (“What are we doing with the fruit”).

  4. Get them to follow simple directions (“Pass me the banana, please.”).

  5. Try using back-and-forth communication (“What do we need to do next?”).

  6. Use complete sentences to describe what you are doing (“I am making a fruit salad.”).

  7. Repeat those same sentences.

  8. Include teaching social skills and reasoning (“Do kids play with knives? Why?”) Tell each other stories.

  9. Recap the activity (“Did we cut up bananas or apples first?”)

For a more in-depth look at this language activity read the article Household Activities as Speech Therapy: Fruit Salad

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Mealtime Language Skills

Try some of the following tips to increase speech for your child’s mealtime routine.

  • Offer one bite at a time: This gets your child to ask for “more” in-between bites.

  • Offer mealtime choices: Giving food options is an opportunity for your child to communicate non-verbally (pointing) or to say what he or she wants.

  • Name the food: Introduce first words for food options like bananas, chicken, and more.

  • Introduce adjectives: Say words like hot, cold, and crunchy to describe food items.

  • Set the table: Teaching how to set the table helps him/her learn new words and follow simple directions.

This same concept and tips can be applied to other daily routines like bathtime as well!

For more amazing language activities for toddlers read the articles, 10 Ways To Support Language During Your Family Meals and Turn Household Activities Into Speech Therapy: Bath time

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How Does Play Develop?

Playing Outdoors

Play skills develop through six stages. Each stage of play development includes key skills that crossover with other stages. But remember, every child develops at their own rate. Also, some stages crossover and build upon themselves, and each child moves through them differently.

The Stages of Play

  • Stage 1 – Unoccupied Play: This stage takes place from birth to three-months-of-age. While a baby may not be able to play much, movements of their extremities and facial gestures are all forms of play.

  • Stage 2 – Solitary Play: Stage 2 occurs between three months and two-years-of-age. This stage consists of independent play and is typically the longest of the six developmental stages.

  • Stage 3 – Onlooker Play: This stage occurs during a child’s second year and consists of a child observing other children playing. It is typically reached with kids who are shy or hesitant to join others during playtime.

  • Stage 4 – Parallel Play: Stage four occurs at two-years-old and above. A child in this stage will play alongside other children, but will still play independently.

  • Stage 5 – Associative Play: While stages three and four tend to crossover at age two depending on a child’s personality, stage five presents itself between age three and four-years-old. At this stage, a child understands the concept of sharing, playing, and asking questions to other children.

  • Stage 6 – Social Play: From four years and up kids will participate in “adult-like socialization.” They play with established rules for games and fantasy-based play will include ‘roles.’ Kids will also learn how to cooperate and solve a problem for a common goal.

Read more about the stages of childhood play development.

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Playtime Language Activities for Preschoolers

Child Play benefits development

What do the six stages of play development have to do with speech?  Children learn best through interaction.  The more children interact and are exposed to more speech, language development will flourish!  While daily routines provide opportunities for increase speech therapy at home, intentional play provides additional opportunities for boosting first words and communication skills for toddlers skills.

Language Tips and Activities

Birth to 2-years-old

  • Imitate facial expressions

  • Make animal sounds

  • Identify colors

  • Use gestures

  • Read

  • Explore toys like musical instruments

  • Have your child engage in sensory play with water or sand

2 to 4-years-old

  • Model clear speech

  • Repeat what your child says

  • Use baby talk mixed with adult words to clarify (“Time for din-din! We’ll eat dinner now”)

  • Ask questions

  • Make a scrapbook from magazine clippings and organize pictures into easily recognized categories

For more activity ideas, read the article 34 Language Activities To improve Speech For Babies And Toddlers.

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Language Activities for Toddlers

Floor Play

There is an activity for every child no matter what stage of development they are in. If you have a baby under one, here are some easy ways to help develop their first words!

  1. Animal Jam: Introduce your baby to early animal sounds by saying, “The cow goes moo,” “The duck goes quack.”

  2. Talk Back: Whenever your baby is crying, cooing, or squealing, communicate with your baby by smiling, waving, or cooing back.

  3. Name That Color: Since everything is made of color around us, start fostering early color recognition by saying the colors of whatever your baby touches or looks at.

  4. Mirror, Mirror: When your baby is doing tummy time, place a mirror on the floor for him or her to visually see the facial expressions he/she is making. This helps your baby see how to formulate facial muscles to make sounds and eventually first words.

  5. Face-to-Face: While facing your baby, help your child learn parts of their body by pointing and saying, nose, eyes, and more.

  6. Repeat After Me: Once your baby starts babbling after four-months-of-age (especially with vowel sounds) start repeating the exact baby babble your baby says back to him/her.

For 15 more language activities for children under one, read the article 21 Fun Kids Speech Activities To Encourage Speech Development.

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Another way to increase communication skills for toddlers is by using animal sound activities. Between 6 to 11 months most children will say their first words. They learn by hearing and repeating the sounds to formulate new words and funny animal sounds. As a child becomes a toddler their repetition of sounds only increases making it the perfect time to learn animal sounds from the world around them.

Animal Sound Language Activities

  • Matching Games with Animals: Simply use matching cards with animals to match one-by-one. This not only helps a toddler with comprehension and memory retention, but it becomes a speech and language activity when they imitate the sound of each animal card they flip over.

  • Visit a Zoo: Take your child for a day trip to the zoo! You can use this little adventure to learn first words along with animal sounds. Not only will they see the real animal that makes the sound, but they may also begin to imitate the animal sounds around them!

  • Read a Book: We all know reading is essential for helping children develop speech and language. Reading books with animals allows you to add in animal sounds while reading.

Read this article for more animal sound language activities for toddlers!

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Play-Doh Activities

playdough mold shapes children

Stamp Letters And Numbers: Use letters and numbers to press into Play-Doh. If your toddler struggles with a certain sound, use that letter to make a word association. (Press a B into the Play-Doh and say “B is for ball.”).

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes: Have your toddler mold Play-Doh into shapes like lips, eyes, and more to teach first words related to parts of the body.

For more Play-Doh language activities for toddlers, read the article Play-Doh Ideas To Encourage Toddlers’ Talking.

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Language Games With Balloons

Adjective Learning: Use different balloon sizes to show your toddler the difference between “big” and “small.”

Positional Language: Describe what the balloon is doing during a game with small sentences. For example: “Balloon high.”

Get more balloon activities to improve communication skills for toddlers!

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Teddy Bear Language Activities for Toddlers

Teach emotions with Teddy Bear
  • Emotions: Use a Teddy bear to act out different emotions like happy, excited, and sad.

  • Clothes: Layout a selection of your toddlers’ clothes and have your child play dress-up with the teddy bear by following simple instructions on how to dress the bear. This teaches the steps of dressing oneself and the words for clothes.

For more great ideas for speech activities with a teddy bear, read the article 25 Kids Games With A Teddy Bear To Develop Language.

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More Language Development Games Your Toddler Will Love

  • Telephone: Use a plastic toy phone to ask your toddler open-ended questions he/she is likely to answer. For instance, “What would you like for dinner?”

  • Supermarket Day: The next time you go grocery shopping with your toddler, name each item you place in the cart and what you intend to use the item for.

Looking for more advanced language activities for children 4- to 5-years-old? Don’t worry Speech Blubs has you covered!

Activities for 4- to 5-year olds

Try some of the following activities with different difficulty levels to increase communication skills for toddlers:

  • Creating Creatures: Have your child draw or build a creature out of craft paper or recycled packaging to explore new vocabulary. As your child builds the creature, use adjectives and verbs to describe how the creature looks, moves, or behaves. For toddlers use simple words like feet, tail, walk, sleep, etc. For children over four, use unusual descriptive words like fangs, whiskers, loud, prowl, etc.

  • Family Photos: Family photos are a great conversation starter for children. Photos can be used to identify people in the photos by pointing and saying the person’s name. For older children four to five-years-old, make this more difficult by asking questions about what’s happening in the family photos. “What is daddy doing?”

  • Treasure Hunt: Write down 5-10 clues on a piece of paper describing what and where the object is in the house. Read the clue one at a time out loud to your child. For example, “yellow, a fruit, monkeys like it” (banana). To make this treasure hunt more complicated simply increase the difficulty of the clues. Example: “I’m hidden behind something rectangular, bright, and turns on with a button” (TV).

  • Workout: Use a combination of numbers and exercise instructions to boost speech and comprehension. Try the following examples: Jumping Jacks, Hops, Skips.

For similar ideas like these read the article Staying At Home And Developing Spoken Language.

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Staying at Home and Developing Spoken Language

Speech and language are a natural part of childhood development. While every child develops at their own rate, it’s still important to utilize language activities for toddlers to increase communication skills no matter if your child is 6-months-old or 5-years-old. Milestones are just context, but they may help you see if baby or toddler activities are needed to boost your child’s speech development!

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