Hey friend! Speech therapy for toddlers doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as you might think, and I’m so glad you stopped by. By the way, if you have have a child (or teach a child) who is not toddler-aged, but is preverbal or minimally verbal, I know you’ll find some great ideas here. Not only am I a pediatric Speech- Language Pathologist, but I’m a mama, too! My baby boy is almost 11 months, and we’re basically doing speech and language activities at home, all day, every day. What a lucky boy he is, right?(Cue the eye rolls from my husband). In all seriousness, though, language development is super important, so I’ve put together some speech therapy activities you can use with your little at home (or in the classroom or therapy room). Just an FYI- these ideas aren’t meant to replace you taking your kiddo in for a speech therapy evaluation or speech therapy session, especially if you have concerns! Early intervention is key, and the more carryover you as a fabulous parent can do at home- the better!
My Thoughts on Speech Therapy Tools for Toddlers and Children who are Minimally Verbal (or Preverbal)
Let’s just get a few things out of the way first. If you’re on a tight budget, don’t freak. You don’t need to spend hundreds on fancy toys or pay for cable to watch “educational” shows. In fact, research is telling you to do just the opposite: kids learn language from face-to-face interaction, not from hearing it on the television.
If your toddler or older child isn’t talking yet- or is only talking a little – you might consider introducing some form of multimodal communication. Don’t panic- that just means allowing your child- or student- to use lots of ways to talk- like signs, gestures, or communication boards. Start with a few basic signs containing core vocabulary, such as ‘more’, ‘want’, ‘stop’, ‘go’, ‘eat’, ‘drink’. Think basic verbs, adjectives, or prepositions. Of course, signs like mama, dada, hi, or other meaningful words can be great starters, too! You can absolutely still talk in sentences, but don’t be afraid to sign those target words, and then say the target word one more time for good measure.
Speech Therapy Activities You Can Try At Home
My biggest tip? Talk all day long to your child, even if he isn’t responding yet. You might feel like a crazy lady, talking to yourself, but remember- it really does help! Talk about what you’re doing, what he’s doing, and describe things. Here are examples of modeling language:
“Why should we push the ball? We want it to go down.”
“Put the green ball ON top. Let’s push the ball. Look! It’s going DOWN! Down.” (Please make sure there are no small parts or choking hazards! But you already knew that 😉 Just went into helicopter mama mode, sorry!)
Sometimes modeling actions- and simply saying the verbs- is super fun. “Shake, shake, shake! It’s your turn!”
Make reading interactive! Read the words, but don’t stop there!
“Let’s read a book together. Book. It’s so soft! It’s a soft book. Can you open the soft book? Open. Great work!”
“Let’s turn the page. Look at that snappy crocodile!” I then make my fingers “snap” against his arm. (We were reading “Charlie Monkey”, in case you’re wondering!)
“Let’s feel how soft the big, brown gorilla is. He’s soft. It’s mama’s turn. Now it’s your turn! Okay, let’s turn the page!”
“Let’s push it and make the fish go. Push it down. Down! Go, fish, go! Awesome job!”
“I want to pull the colorful flower down. Let’s pull it down. Down! Look! Wow! It’s going back UP now!”
“It’s mama’s turnto make the ball GO. Ready, set, GO!” Bounce the ball and say something like, “Bounce, bounce, bounce! We bounced the round, colorful ball!” Before you toss the ball in the air, say and sign the word up. “Up. Mama’s going to throw the ball UP in the air! Look!”
Hopefully this gave you some speech therapy ideas for toddlers- or kiddos of any age using augmentative and alternative communication! Keep modeling language through play! Keep it fun and interactive! That’s how kids learn best. You’ll absolutely want to follow my speech therapy for toddlers board on Pinterest for more fabulous ideas! In addition, you’d love my parent handouts for modeling core vocabulary– these are super easy ideas for implementing language modeling all day and throughout the year!
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