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5 Toddler Activities Using Household Items to Promote Speech and Language Development

Working on speech and language skills doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Below are some fun ways to use household items for play to promote early speech and language development! 

Sock Toss Items needed: Laundry basket & socks

Ways to target language skills: 

Have some colorful rolled-up socks to toss into the laundry basket. You can target turn-taking skills by taking turns throwing socks into the basket and using turn-taking language (e.g., my turn, your turn). You can also give your child simple directions to follow (e.g., get the pink socks then throw them in the basket). Depending on where the socks land, this could be a great time to reinforce position concepts (e.g., they landed in/ in front of/ behind/ next to the basket).

Box Blocks and Vehicles Items needed: Cardboard boxes

Ways to target language skills: 

You can build with cardboard boxes and use them as blocks. Kids can use their imagination to build whatever they choose! Feel free to paint or color the boxes to add more vocabulary to the game. This is also a great time to reinforce those early location words (e.g., put the pink box ON the yellow box). You may also use size concepts to describe the boxes during play (e.g., this box is BIG, and this box is SMALL).

With bigger boxes, you can use them as vehicles! Have your child sit in the box. You can push them around while using early sounds (e.g., vroom vroom, beep beep) and then stop them. Then, wait and see if they will request more! 

Sensory Bin Items needed: Large bowl & measuring cups

Ways to target language skills: 

In a bowl, you can add water, noodles, rice, crumpled paper, or water bottle caps. You can practice scooping and pouring using measuring cups! You may also hide items in the sensory bin and take turns finding items in the bin. You may use little animal toys, puzzle pieces, mini cars, cut out pictures of family members, etc. This is a great opportunity to target early wh- questions (e.g., WHAT did you find? WHO is that? etc.) and/or expanding the length of utterances (e.g., I got a_____).

Mystery Box Items needed: Tissue box

Ways to target language skills: 

You can add a variety of items in the tissue box (e.g., little toy cars, puzzle pieces, little toy figures, pom poms, cotton balls, uncooked noodles, etc.! This is a great activity to target vocabulary. You may target the concepts “in” and “out” while taking the items out and putting them back in. See if your child can guess what it is based on feeling it! When it is your turn, you can model new descriptive vocabulary based on how the item feels (e.g., bumpy, hard, soft, squishy, etc.). 

Homemade Play Dough Items needed: flour, salt, vegetable oil, food coloring (optional)

Ways to target language skills: 

You can have your child help you make it to expose him or her to even more language concepts! This is a great time to introduce sequencing (e.g., first, then, next, etc.) and following directions (e.g., pour the salt in the bowl). Once the play dough is ready, your child can use his or her imagination! You can also use cookie cutters to add to the fun!


In a bowl, add:

- 4 tbsp of flour

- 2 tbsp of salt


In a separate bowl, add:

- ~1/4 of a cup of warm water 

- 4-5 drops of food coloring

- 1 tbsp of vegetable oil

Add the dry ingredients into the bowl and MIX

Put some flour on the table and play a little with the dough

Put the play dough in a plastic bag, and keep it in the fridge :)

If you have concerns regarding your child's development and are looking for speech and/or language therapy in or around Chicago's North Shore (Glencoe, Winnetka, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Northbrook, Northfield, Glenview, Deerfield, Wilmette, Evanston, Morton Grove, etc.), call The Little Speech Clinic today! (847) 350-9093

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