Speech and Language growth for the under 3 crowd

As we continue through Better Speech and Hearing Month, we are going to discuss activities or games that can help promote speech and language growth. This week we are going to focus on activities for ages 6 months to 3 years. These ideas are taken directly from our Speech and Language Resource Guide for Crawlers and Walkers.

  1. Mirror: When you look at the mirror then to your child and back to the mirror again, you are modeling joint attention (shared focus of two individuals on an object), a crucial pre-verbal skill. In addition, the mirror can help provide opportunities for learning the important pre-verbal cognitive skill of object permanence (child’s ability to know that objects continue to exist even though they can no longer be seen or heard).
  2. Bubbles: Use bubbles to focus on requesting more, using the b, m, g, p, w sounds, following a routine and imitating words and sounds. Practice saying or signing “open” and “bubble”. Say “Ready, Set, Go!”. Blow bubbles. Say “wow” as they fall. When bubbles land, start popping them and say “pop” each time. Before the next round of bubbles, ask “more?”
  3. Shape Sorter: Shape sorters are great for providing more opportunities for cognitive skills such as joint attention and object permanence. They also provide opportunities for learning concepts such as in, out, on, under, next to and so on. If the child also learns his or her shape vocabulary along the way, that is a BONUS!
  4. Songs and Finger Play Books: Songs and finger play books provide opportunities for language learning using your babies many senses.
  5. Plush, Sensory-Stimulating Books: Similar to the songs and finger play books, plush and sensory-stimulating books will draw in your child’s attention while also providing their sensory-seeking behaviors with some relief.
  6. Tunnels/Tent Sets: Not only are these sets fantastic for gross motor development, but they allow for so many opportunities for language as well. Tunnels/Tent sets can be used as part of an obstacle course, for example. Going in and out and under and through is so much fun and is great for working on listening and following directions.
  7. Peek-a-boo Games: Playing hiding games such as Peek-a-boo will build turn-taking, promote eye contact, requesting for more, object permanence and problem-solving.
  8. Potato Head: From body part identification to color identification to basic concepts. Mr.Potato Head is a fantastic, versatile and fun toy!
  9. Farm Set: Work on teaching the names of all the animals and the sounds they make! Basic Concepts: Using the animals and the barn, you can work on all the prepositional concepts like in, out, on, under, between, next to, etc. You can work on some/most/allfirst/then/last, big/medium/small, big/bigger/biggest, etc. and all the colors. Social/pragmatic skills: You can use these items to work on turn-taking, a very important social skill. Take turns with the animals. Work on asking, “May I have a turn please?” or “May I have the horse please?” Work on eye contact while you play and talk.
  10. Doll House: Vocabulary/labels: You can target all the labels for the items in the house as well as the family members/pets in them! Basic Concepts: You can basically work on ALL basic concepts using the doll house, furniture and dolls. Prepositions like in, out, on, off, through, next to; Size concepts like big, small, biggest, smallest, bigger, smaller; colors; counting skills; shapes (i.e., shapes of the windows, doors, furniture, etc.) Verbs: Again, the possibilities are endless here! While manipulating the dolls, they can eat, drink, sit, stand, run, walk, skip, go up, come down, sleep, etc.

A great blog from a pediatric speech pathologist with more suggestions to expand your child’s speech development can be found here.

Submitted by Jenn Parsons, GiGi’s Playhouse Quad Cities Program Manager and Speech and Language Pathologist

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