Mr. Potato Head
This toy is still a classic today! It provides plenty of language opportunities when helping little ones learn body parts, colors, spatial directions, attributes, colors and so much more! You can even create social/pragmatic learning opportunities with two or more Mr. Potato Heads and initiate dialogue between characters or help children recognize absurdities by putting body parts in the wrong places and asking, “What’s wrong?” Lots of giggles are in store!
Color Fun Fish bowl
Although the best speech-language games do not necessarily make noise, the Color Fun Fish Bowl, or other fish bowl themed toys, are motivating for children and target more than just identification of colors. Along with targeting auditory comprehension, interactive play with this toy also targets: fine motor skills; following directions; and knowledge of concepts “in,” “out” and “through,” among other lessons that can be implemented.
Scattergories (Original or Junior) and/or Scattergories The Card Game
A classic! Depending on the age of your child, the original or “Junior” version of Scattergories, as well as Scattergories The Card Game create great language-building opportunities. Children are challenged- at whatever level that works best for them- to generate names of items for various categories when given a target letter. Scattergories Junior is now a collectible item and is difficult to find under $40, but links to the updated version of the original and The Card Game version are listed below.
This is a great game targeting attention, auditory recognition, categorization and expressive language! The child listens to an environmental sound and must identify what makes the sound on their picture board. First to get “Bingo” wins! I continue to use one that I got at a secondhand shop; although it’s missing the original CD, I created a playlist on YouTube and just play the sounds from my phone.
Musical instruments are a great way to target listening, recognizing and imitating patterns, following directions and reducing impulsivity. You can initiate games such as “Freeze Dance,” target knowledge of “stop,” “wait” and “go” and hone auditory processing skills all while having a fun kinesthetic learning experience!
Kids love this “I Spy” type of game…and your mind may be blown away! Each card in a “Spot It!” deck has a field of pictures, and has exactly one picture that matches a picture hidden on a subsequent card. The goal of each opponent is to spot the matching picture as quickly as possible; whoever rids themselves of their deck of cards first wins. It is an excellent game targeting visual recognition, improved executive functioning skills and social/pragmatic skills such as dealing with winning and losing appropriately. Adults will find this equally challenging! “Spot It Jr.” is a great substitute for early learners.
Last but not least is another wonderful game targeting the ability to identify and describe items according to attributes. Children love the novelty of wearing silly glasses and the mystery of an unknown card that they must guess or describe, depending on their turn. Effective play helps increase auditory memory, auditory processing, language expression, knowledge of attributes (i.e., color, shape, function, location, purpose/use) and will provide endless amounts of fun. As your child’s skills and confidence improve, this game helps transfer knowledge and use of these important components of language into real world applications. A game of fun and function!