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Speech and Language Toys for Building Pronunciation, Articulation, Receptive and Expressive Language

This article provides helpful toys for speech and language development. Affiliate links are included for your convenience. Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) is a learning and academic center. As a reminder, ILS is not a health care provider and none of our materials or services provide a diagnosis or treatment of a specific condition or learning challenge you may see in your child or student. If you seek a diagnosis or treatment for your child or student, please contact a trained professional who can provide an evaluation of the child.

One of the biggest worries when your child is transitioning from an infant to a toddler is if they are reaching their developmental milestones. It’s hard to know if a child is on track or if they are delayed, especially when it comes to speech and language.

Speech and language skills are by far one of the most important milestones, and are one of the precursors to a child eventually reading and writing. As a child progresses, they must develop strong speech and language skills to…

  • Understand and remember what a person is saying
  • Use the correct pronunciation and articulation to say words and sentences
  • Communicate with others
  • Get thoughts down on paper

All of these ares of speech and language development are critical steps for your child to succeed in higher areas of learning as they grow older. 

Developing speech and language

As speech develops, parents and children often become frustrated with each other because children want to express themselves, but don’t have the ability yet to articulate what they want to say. In these situations, parents tend to see a lot more tantrums and meltdowns. It is not because their child has bad behavior, but because they simply don’t have the skills to project what they want to communicate. That is why parents can use visual charts, games, or the point and retrieve method to discover their child’s needs and wants.

Many people tend to think that speech and language are the same thing. However, both are very different. And, children may experience delays in one or the other.

Speech Skills vs. Language Skills

Speech is how a child pronounces words, letters, and sounds (pronunciation and articulation). Many children with speech delays struggle with letters like “r” and “l.” 

Language development is how a child expresses their wants, feelings and emotions. It is how they communicate with others.

Parents may say, “I know my child understands what I’m saying, but they don’t respond or talk to me when I ask them questions.” That phrase usually means the child’s receptive language is good because they understand and acknowledge what the parent is saying. However, the child may have difficulty finding the words to say because their expressive language is not fully developed. 

In this situation, sign language can be used with developing speech and language skills to help parents and children avoid frustrations and misunderstandings. This will help while the child’s expressive language is evolving. However, it is important to not use sign language as a replacement for speech and language unless the child has a severe learning disability or is non-verbal. Using the two together can be very beneficial and can break down any barriers you and your child may experience when it comes to speech and language.

To better understand a child’s milestones for speech, click here. For more about your child’s language milestones, click here.

Toys Based on Age

There are many toys that can help your child develop their speech and language skills. However, there are some toys that are better for speech and language development depending on the child’s age.


Between the ages of 6 months to 2 years old, toys with lots of sound and movement that encourage babbling are important. Because babbling is a precursor to speech and language, these types of toys can help your child develop how they hear and say sounds.


Children around 2 to 4 years old can use toys and games that strengthen the tongue, lips, jaw and mouth for better speech development. Simple games like taking a Cheerio and asking your child to hold it at the roof of their mouth will get them in the correct position for letters like “l.”

Older Children

For children between the ages of 4 to 7, any games or toys that encourage your child to use their expressive language and communication are important. These are the critical years for building neural connections in your child’s brain (frontal lobe). Building neural connections in the brain directly impacts speech and expressive language. Board games, conversation items, flash cards, and Pictionary as well as front to back exercises, are all great for developing these skills.

Unlikely Toys for Speech and Language Development

Toys and games that may seem unlikely for speech and language development are sometimes the best. For example, toys that require kids to use breathing techniques improve speech and language. You’d be surprised how many children may not have enough breath or air for speech and language skills.

To provide your child or students with a good foundation when it comes to speech and language, encourage them to play with…

  • Toys that have a theme, like blocks, farm sets or flash cards to encourage vocabulary.
  • Blowing up balloons and using whistles that require air from the diaphragm, giving kids enough breath to say sounds, letters, and eventually full sentences.
  • Straws, licking ice cream, and eating crunchy foods to strengthen the lips, tongue and jaw for better pronunciation and articulation. 

Speech and Language Toys

Here are a few toy recommendations for speech and language development. Music therapy and voice work programs are included below as they have great success with speech and language skills in addition to working with non-verbal children.


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Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs

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