By: Lindsay Barret  M.S., CF-SLP

As children begin to develop their abilities to understand, process, and produce language during early childhood, they become increasingly skilled at remembering and practicing the language they hear around them, and they modify their word use based on people’s reactions. Infants and toddlers understand more words than they are able to speak, and it is during early childhood that their expressive, or spoken language, skills catch up with their receptive, or language comprehension, abilities.

In order to develop speech, language, and cognitive skills, here are some toys parents can use to encourage everything from vocabulary, imitation, following directions, and speech sounds.


Puzzles introduce novel vocabulary, provide background knowledge, foster problem-solving skills, and encourage visual-spatial awareness. They’re also great for working on simple single words such as “in,” “out,” or “more.”

Mr. Potato Head

Mr. Potato Head targets body part and clothing vocabulary, following 1 and 2 step directions, and play skills.

Musical instruments

Musical instruments teach children to imitate what they see and hear. Music also encourages expression and creativity.

Farm animals

Playing with farm animals is a good way to elicit basic speech sounds. For example, singing Old MacDonald with your child teaches some vowel sounds (ee-i-ee-i-oh), as well as coordinating mouth movements, and some simple consonant-vowel words such as “moo” and “bah.”


Rolling a ball back and forth encourages the development of gross motor skills and establishes joint attention, eye contact, and turn-taking which are the foundations of social communication.

Speech-language therapy helps children build the skills they need to become better communicators, better listeners, and better students. Making language development fun and interactive helps children get excited about sharpening their communication skills! Our speech-language therapists specialize in many different treatment areas. Let’s discuss the best therapy route for your child.