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Which toys are better for getting children talking?

Lorna Hrbolich MA, REG. CASLPO, CCC-SLP

Toys that are “open-ended” (have no beginning, middle or end) are especially good because they can be used creatively in a number of ways.  These toys can get a child talking for many different reasons; not just to label but also to request, protest, show, comment, problem solve, ask questions and role-play.  Open-ended toys include the more basic “traditional” toys such as:

  • Farm set. Playing with a farm set can encourage making animal sounds, acting out familiar actions/scenarios (such as eating, sleeping, running) and can provide opportunities to practice basic concepts (including in, out, on and beside). 
  • Play kitchen and play food; Doll house and dolls or puppets. These toys allow children to replicate real-life experiences (e.g., feeding, dressing).
  • Building with blocks can involve social interaction (taking turns, problem solving) and concepts (e.g., big and small, tall and short, one and all). 
  • Transportation toys, play dough and dress-up clothes.

Language learning takes place during the back and forth interactions between you and a child.  So although some toys are better than others for encouraging speech and language skills, don’t worry too much about which toy you should use.  You have a bigger influence on a child’s language development than any toy. 

Did you know?

Although many children enjoy playing with a toy that makes sounds, lights up, or “talks” – it can be more difficult to interact with a child if they are too occupied with the toy.