Stocking fillers to encourage play, language and communication

Here are some ideas for cheap and cheerful stocking fillers Santa might bring and games to play with them to help your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews develop play, language and communication skills.

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Stocking fillers to encourage play, language and communication

Looking for creative ideas for speech therapy at Christmas? Here’s how!

santa1The Christmas season is upon us and the elves are busy preparing sacks of toys for Santa to deliver to all the children in County Clare.  Here are some ideas for cheap and cheerful stocking fillers Santa might bring and games to play with them to help your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews develop play, language and communication skills during this festive time and long after the Christmas decorations have been taken down.

Bouncy balls, footballs, textured and soft balls can provide hours of entertainment for children, while at the same time develop a range of skills.  You can help your child target motor skills like throwing, rolling, catching and kicking and develop vocabulary at the same time by labelling the action words.  Ball activities can develop turn-taking skills in children of all ages; older children can play games like one touch or hot potato in small groups.  Younger children can develop turn taking skills and eye contact by taking turns with an adult or older child rolling the ball between each other.

Baby dolls can really help open up and expand a child’s pretend play skills because children use them to act out real life events, like feeding a baby and putting it to bed.  A doll also provides lots of opportunities for you to model vocabulary like body parts and clothes, as well as action words like eating, drinking and sleeping.

Get out a bottle of bubbles, blow some, then put the lid back on and hand it to the child. Wait for the child to indicate that he or she needs help to open it. Model the language you want him or her to use like “Help”, “Open” or “More bubbles”.

With wind-up toys you simply wind it up, let it off and when it’s done wait for your child to indicate that they would like the toy to be wound up again. Model the language or eye contact you want him or her to use.  Some words you can model include, “Again”, “Ready, steady, go!”, and “Stop”.  Younger children love these cheap and fun toys!

For older children, two-player games like Connect4 can provide great opportunities to develop turn-taking and basic strategy skills.

Puzzles are available for children of any age and ability.  For toddlers there are the puzzles with fit-in pieces.  These are a great way through which you can model simple words depending what images are on the puzzle. You can hold up two puzzle pieces and offer your child a choice between them, “Car or tractor?” With children aged, 2, 3, 4, and up fit together puzzles can be used to develop vocabulary knowledge and use.  Help your child to find pieces that fit by saying things like “Find the piece with the blue lights next”, while pointing to it in the picture on the box. When the puzzle is complete take two or three turns each playing eye-spy and giving each other clues about the colour, size or use of things pictured in the puzzle.

Toy cars are another way for children to develop their imagination and play skills, along with their language skills. Children can play with toys cars, building ramps, roads and caves out of cushions, boxes and even the coffee table. They can act out scenes of traffic jams, crashes and police chases.  By joining in in these games you can encouragement development of description words like fast and slow, big car and small car and prepositions like on, under, behind and beside.  You can also work on naming smaller parts like door, boot, window and wheels.

We hope you and your children enjoy playing with all the toys Santa brings this Christmas!

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Through play, children learn about the world around them. Playing with toys can help your child’s attention and listening skills, hand-eye coordination as well as their physical, social, emotional, speech and language development.

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