With the holiday shopping season upon us, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share a list of my favorite toys for toddlers and why they help promote language development. Of course, just handing children toys is not going to teach them to talk; it’s the interaction between the child and the caregiver that fosters the growth of communication skills. The toys on this list provide plenty of chances for children to be exposed to language and vocabulary in context and to express themselves.
- Mr. Potato Head is great for talking about body parts and clothing.
- Blocks can be used to talk about up and down, and they are also good for developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
- Kitchen sets, tea sets, and play food are useful for developing pretend play skills. Pretend play and language tend to develop together because they are both based on symbols. There is nothing inherent in the word banana that has anything to do with the actual object. The word is merely a symbol. Similarly, a toy cup is just a symbol for the true object. As children’s pretend play becomes more complex, so too does their language.
- Doctor kits can also be used for pretend play. Additionally, when kids have the chance to play with items usually found in a doctor’s office, it can make a visit to the doctor a little less scary because the tools are familiar.
- Shape sorters can be used to talk about colors, shapes, in and out, and full and empty. They are also great for working on sorting.
So, before you go out and buy the latest battery operated toy for your toddler, consider these classic toys that are good for hours of fun and actually aid in language development. And as an added bonus: none of these toys requires batteries. That saves you money and means that the toys don’t play loud, annoying music.