By: Lindsay Barret M.S., CF-SLP

Have you ever played with a toy and felt like you’re not sure what to do with it any longer? I find it helpful to think of a few simple play stories/schemas before using the toy. This is a great way to reduce pauses during play as you think of what to do next. It will help keep your child engaged and communicating! Finally, it is important to keep the child’s abilities in mind when creating a play scheme and adjust the language and play sequence to match what the child can do. 


  • Embed everyday routines into play
  • Practice school and morning/night time routines, making them as similar to real experiences as possible
  • Good way to teach categories (room, furniture, people)


  • Great opportunity to teach animals names and sounds
  • Animals are hungry, eat, get dirty, take a bath, go to sleep, wake up, play with others, escape from the farm


  • Great way to teach action words, sequencing, and categories
  • Action words: cook, mix, stir, eat, chew, bite, wash, chop, cut, slice, drink, pour, peel
  • Categories: utensils, foods, drinks, appliances, cooking tools
  • Stove is hot while cooking
  • Food is hot- need to blow on the food to cool it down
  • Set the table, serve the food


  • Helpful to teach train safety and rules for kids who live in urban environments
  • Integrate this train scheme with the above dollhouse play scene
  • Get tickets/ swipe Metrocard
  • Waiting for, riding, and getting  off the train
  • Picking up passengers at additional stops  
  • Broken track/train: need a mechanic
  • Drive the train past different scenes (lake, city, farm)

Let your imagination run wild during play. Play is very important for children’s development and can provide invaluable learning opportunities – and of course, fun! Mary Poppins famously said, “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and SNAP! The job’s a game!”

Encouraging imaginative play can open up many creative doors for your child. Your speech therapist can help you establish play routines and help you discover ways to improve your child’s communication skills. Let’s talk about how therapy can help your child grow and communicate!