speech and language activities

5 Speech and Language Activities for Parents to Try At Home

Posted on
February 21, 2023
Continue the discussion with a pro

Have a chat with a certified Speech and Language Professional for free

Book now

Whether you are a parent or speech and language professional, supporting your child’s speech and language’s development can happen organically in everyday settings, using common objects, and without preparing for it! Discover how you incorporate speech and language activities into everyday routine.

What activities would you provide for speech and language development?

I was once told in the beginning of my speech and language career that speech therapy can be done with anything, “Anything?” I gasped. I was told that it can even be done with a cup. I had a mentor explain that if you use a plastic cup, you can work on a variety of speech sounds related to the cup, work on language by speaking about related words - describing the cup, expanding on sentences on the cup, and so much more. The moral of the story is that you can chuck those papers, and take a break from the new age therapy that we all love to play around with: boom cards….and take a breath.

How do you teach speech and language? Make it Simple and Fun!

When your child is younger (i.e. 0-3 years old), reading with them is very important. This will foster language development. Wordless picture books will help them get a better understanding of labelling and understanding body parts, colours, numbers, and common objects, while developing early stage narrative skills.

When your child is a baby, you will want to imitate their sounds, point out colours and shapes to put it on their radar, and elaborate! Their first word may be “mama” so you can add on and say “Mama wants to go to sleep” or “mamma wants a cookie”.

With this age group, play is very important. Speech therapists revolve their target goals around play. Using toys and games in different ways - to increase turn taking, symbolic play, naming objects and describing them, and practising individual speech words related to the child’s favourite objects and toys.

speech and language activities
Speech therapy games to try at home

What activities would you provide for speech and language development?

Many speech and language professionals try to find engaging activities to keep children and adolescents engaged in speech. Here are 5 tips that can help!

  1. Use their interests. You may want to take an interest survey if a child is younger from their parents. As they get older, you will want to ask them directly. Plan activities for speech and language that acknowledge their interest in science, history, or even yoga. Opportunities for speech and language are everywhere!
  2. Digital platforms can be motivating but remember that screen time should not be an entire session - in fact the digital world can increase hyperactivity. It can always be called on as a motivating support especially on those tough therapy days when the individual is being resistant to engagement despite your human enthusiasm. Studies show that our new era will digitalize speech and language therapy even more in the future, and that the attitudes of SLP’s towards using enhanced technology (including apps and digital platforms) will become even more positive (Dirks and Scherger, 2022). Noala is just one example of these platforms that encourage both the digital and human touch!
  3. Get back to basics. Every speech professional that is on the go typically has a pop up toy, a Mr potato head, puzzles, bubbles, stickers and a few other staples in that big bag that children love to dig their hands into. All of these items can motivate the child while also working on speech sounds, labelling and describing. Bubbles and balloons (that you can blow up at the end of the session) are an especially great companion as they can be used to also strengthen articulators when oral motor weaknesses are present, as well as rewards to complement efforts and successes in sessions.
  4. Hands on speech therapy games can help support individuals who have difficulty attending to tasks in speech sessions. It is especially important for the younger restless kids who need to be distracted by engaging in something that stimulates their senses. Your local dollar store and even target has little paint sets that can be used for the duration of a session while working on target speech sounds or language related challenges. Asking questions about the “project” can get the therapy started, and invite in sound production for target words as well as an opportunity for use of language.
  5. We can drive ourselves crazy trying to plan for progressive sessions. Each session may feel like another hump that needs a new idea and plan. Our need to change things up may not always be the answer. Creating themes that are relevant to the individual or group can create structure for the session, and reduce the burden of constantly thinking up something that is completely different. Seasonal themes, animal themes, holiday themes, video game themes, specific academic themes - can create a sense of structure and excitement for the individuals in therapy as they know what to look forward to next!

What activities do speech and language therapists do with children?

There is no one way to teach activities for speech and language. All speech and language professionals will have different styles, but it will always be backed by evidence based practices. However, all styles seek to enhance the communication of all the individuals receiving therapy. There are so many new ways to approach therapy, as the digital world has moved mountains. Sometimes getting back to basics to support the digital world with our children is underestimated.

For parent-led activities for speech and language and speech therapy games, sign up to our programs for free. Working on first words, to sentences and how to articulate different sounds clearer.

For more information to support speech professionals on planning for therapy sessions, go back to our blog on Planning Efficiently for School Based SLP’s.

Speech and language activities resources
Sharon Baum
Clinical Director, United States and M.A. CCC-SLP
Continue the discussion with a pro

Let's connect you to a speech and language therapist, and get all your questions answered today.

Continue discussion