Every child develops language skills at a different pace. Some toddlers are more outspoken while others are especially quiet. Either way, we all want to promote children's speech development, and thankfully, it's possible to do so in fun, interesting, and engaging ways.
Here, six cool games and activities that have the extra benefit of boosting your toddler's speech and language skills ...
- Make a scrapbook. Head out to the zoo or a playground, and take photos you'll print out later. Then, along with your child, create a construction-paper scrapbook to remember the day. Help him or her sequence the pictures in order (“What did we do first?”) and tell you about each picture. Ask them "wh-" questions (e.g. “Where did we go?” or “Who went to the zoo?”). Then, encourage your child to share their book with family and friends!
- Have a scavenger hunt. Encourage your little one to explore with a fun impromptu or pre-planned hunt. If you're grocery shopping, you can decide to search for foods that are a specific color -- or hunt for objects of one shape around the house. You can help your toddler by gathering three objects and asking her to choose which matches, e.g., "Which object is red? Which object is a circle?"
- Tell a story from photos. Gather up pictures of family members, friends, pets, etc. Then, retell what happened in the photo or make up a new story with your toddler.
- Go on a labeling spree. Type, print, and cut out individual words; then use blue painter's tape (which allows for easy removal) to adhere them to objects, like your refrigerator, closet, windows, etc. According to ChildcareLounge.com, labeling teaches children how everything has a set of common symbols to be written down and identified. If your child is old enough to recognize letters, ask her what letter "lamp" begins with and ask them to find the label that starts with "L." If they are still too young, point out different letters on the labels to help introduce them to the words. By reinforcing the concept daily and over time, your little one will be able to identify the words on their own.
- Create/do an obstacle course. Dream up three to five tasks, i.e., “walk like a bear around the tree” or “hop like a bunny to the fence.” To reinforce the language aspect, you can write each one down, maybe alongside a correlating photo or drawing. Then, have your child tell others about their obstacle course. Use the written or pictured steps to help them organize their thoughts as they recap the activity.
- Play telephone. Play with a toy telephone (or use a block as a pretend one) to get your little one chatting away. You can pretend to talk to Grandpa, or a babysitter, or a favorite TV or book character, then pass the phone to your child and encourage him to chat too.
What fun activity do you like to do with your toddler that promotes speech and language?