Thursday, November 21, 2013

10 Speech Therapist Recommended Toys

With Christmas coming up, I was brainstorming presents I could get for my daughter (who has Apraxia) that would benefit her speech as well.  I know that you can turn any toy into a speech therapy tool, but I thought I would turn to the experts. 

I asked a few of my favorite SLPs to share their top 2 or 3 recommended toys or games that would be beneficial for their speech. 

I think they all would agree that this list isn't just for children who have speech disorders, but for all children of all abilities.  I hope this helps you with your Christmas list! 

What's In Ned's Head Game
Age range: 4+
This is, hands down, my most favorite game ever. It is packed with so many opportunities for children to "dig around Ned's head" to search for an item that can be matched to a corresponding card. My student's have a blast trying to verbally describe such silly items like a dirty sock, a squishy alien, and more. Using appropriate describing words, such as dirty, squishy, etc. are essential for our young learners.

Tomy Pop-Up Pirate Game
Age range: 4+
When I work with preschoolers, my student's often will ask for "the jumping pirate game." The swords in this game allow me to emphasize color recognition. In addition, this game helps me to start the activity of, "Let's look around our classroom to find other items that are (insert color here)." Oh, and sometimes we even talk like pirates while we chat about colors!

Erik X. Raj, M.S., CCC-SLP
Detroit, MI

(he's the genius behind the fun Mulitple Choice Articulation & I Dare You Articulation apps!) 


Mr. Potato Head
Age range: 18 months - 5 years
Mr. Potato Head is a great toy to encourage language, vocabulary, pretend play and a variety of sounds.  Encourage children to request body parts by giving them the potato and maintaining control of the pieces.  You can give choice between parts and encourage choices between different colored potato head parts.  After putting the potato together, you can play a variety of pretend games by having the potato sleep, eat, run, jump, hug and interact with other potato heads. 

Age range: 1+
(can be found at almost any dollar store, department store or grocery store or can be made)
Bubbles are a timeless therapy tool and can be purchased at most stores.  I like to have children practice turn taking telling me who will blow the bubbles and who will pop them.  I also like to have children tell me where to blow the bubbles (up, down, in the air, on the floor, on there hand or on other body parts.  Bubble, up, down, high, more and pop are some easy vocabulary words for beginning talkers.
Beth Browning, MS CCC SLP
Providing private home based speech therapy for children in Utah from Layton to Lehi.
(she's actually our SLP & we LOVE her!)


Fisher-Price Medical Kit
Age range: 2-7
This is another play set that encourages kids to talk about their own experiences. Children particularly love to be the doctor which allows them to lead the interaction by giving directions and asking questions. It also allows for opportunities to talk about emotions as many children have strong feelings related to doctor’s visits. (Plus the stethoscope is fantastic for a little amplification when doing auditory bombardment for phonological targets).

Go Away Monster Game
Age range: 3-6
Reach into the bag to find the puzzle pieces that match the pictures on the bedroom game board. If a monster pops out, don't be scared...just tell him “to go away” and toss him into the monster pit. Go Away Monster encourages kids to boss the monsters around, but it also lets them experience in deciding what is real and what is imaginary. Lots of opportunities to include vocabulary about things in the house, descriptive terms, and emotions. Good for encouraging cooperation and turn-taking.

Any of the original Fisher-Price Little People sets
Age range: 2-8
(You can usually find them on eBay and the occasional thrift store or garage sale.)
Yes, I’ve been an SLP so long that I bought most of these now “vintage” toys sets brand new but little else engages a child’s imagination like these toys. There are no related tv, movie or video scripts to re-enact so kids can really create their own worlds. They also are uncommon enough that kids are interested in how they are the same, yet different, than their own toys at home. Many parents say “I had that when I was a kid” and are eager to join in the play. And most importantly, none of them have batteries so all the talking gets done by those playing. 

Carol M. Fast, MSPA, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist at
Carol M. Fast LLC
Ann Arbor, MI
(she's the one that created one of our all time favorite apps, Speech Stickers)


Age range: 4-8
Zingo is a fun bingo game with picture tiles and double sided bingo cards. It is a great game to build vocabulary and work on matching and concentration/attention. You can also target sounds your child is working on. Have them say a phrase or sentence with the word containing the target sound. You can use a carrier phrase "I found a..., I got a..." or a unique phrase for each picture. Depending on your child's level you can give them the phrase or sentence or let them make up their own. If this is too difficult for your child you can also have them just repeat the word.

Guess Who? (or Who Is It?)
Age range: 6+
I love this game! It is great for teaching kids to ask questions, categorization, and discrimination. When I worked in an elementary school I had many kids with language delays that could not formulate questions appropriately. I used this game all of the time. It is a fun way to work on questions, much better than worksheets or drilling activities.

Age range: 0+
Books are a great way to teach and facilitate speech and language. It is important to have a variety of books for your children. Both stories and informational books. One thing to remember is that typically children's receptive language (what they understand) is higher than their expressive language (what they say). This means that they can understand books a little above their age level. So read both books at their expressive language level and their receptive language level.

You can choose books to target certain sounds for example sh can be taught using Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy E. Shaw, Sheep on a Ship by Nancy E. Shaw, Sheep in a Shop by Nancy E Shaw (I have some lists of books to target certain sounds on my Pinterest SLP board) or books that target certain language concepts for example:

-ing: The Napping House by Audrey Wood,

Prepositions: Each Peach Pear Plum by Allan and Janet Ahlberg, Klippity Klop by Ed Emberley, Snake In, Snake Out by Linda Banchek, There's an Alligator Under My Bed by Mercer Mayer, Rosie's Walk by Pat Hutchins

Negatives: It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw, Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess, Pierre by Maurice Sendak, The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle

Wh- questions: Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr., Where Have You Been? by Margaret Wise Brown, What Do You Do? by Mercer Mayer, Who Sank the Boat? by Pamella Allen, I Went Walking by Sue Williams

*Buying books is great if you can afford them (or a great thing for relatives to give for gifts), but also remember to utilize your public library. I like to request books if I know what book I am looking for- then I can enjoy my time at the library browsing and not worry about locating specific things.

Michelle Thomas M.Ed. CCC-SLP Speech Language Pathologist
Salt Lake City, UT


Thanks SO much to all of our awesome speech therapists for participating!  If you want more information about any of them, please feel free to email me.  I highly recommend any of them!

Read other Speech Therapist Recommended Posts here

So let's hear it!  What are your child's favorite toys? 

*This post contains affiliate links. 

**Linked up to More the Merrier Mondays, Too Cute Tuesday, Anything Goes, Fellowship Fridays, & Love That Max.

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