HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2016! Toys for Speech and Language Development

As speech-language pathologists, we are often asked for our recommendations on toys and games for parents to buy for their kids. Putting together the HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE is one of my favorite activities! I get to spend time in various toy stores and searching through catalogs to discover new or creative toys that we can recommend to our clients. (Unfortunately no company has offered me compensation for this! 😉 Yet…).
When looking and recommending toys and games, there are a few things I like to emphasize. First, many of the games and toys are ones you would probably already buy for your child. The typical brands like Melissa & Doug, Fisher Price, Habe, Legos, etc offer toys for all ages and stages of development. From simple stacking and cause and effect toys, to pretend play sets (think farms, car garages, doctor’s sets, etc) to games that require turn taking and strategy, these are all things that promote language and cognitive development. Second, I try to emphasize that there aren’t specific “speech and language games” but instead games that can target different speech and language goals. For instance, Memory can target vocabulary, yes/not comprehension, categorization, and syntax development.  Finally, I like to de-emphasize the need for “alphabet or number” games and electronic toys that require nothing more than a button push. Kids will learn their letters and numbers in their academic setting when they are developmentally appropriate. And pushing a button to elicit a noise or lights is fun for the little ones learning cause-effect, but after that, there is not much learning or exploring going on. So if you buy your kid that Fisher Price Barn or Garage, forget to put in the batteries, or don’t replace them when they’ve run out. Give your child the chance to make the noises of the animals and cars; you may be surprised what you hear!

Please check out the GUIDE and ask your therapist if anything is specifically appropriate for your child!

Happy Holidays from the FUNdamentals and Building Blocks Therapy Staff!