Jake's Journey with Apraxia

And the Friends We Met Along the Way

by Katie, SLP and Contributing Writer

Wondering how to pick just the right toy for your little one? Allow me to share some of my favorites as well as give you some insight into my thought process regarding choosing therapy materials.

I tend to look at a toy, puzzle, book, or game in terms of how many ways I can utilize it for addressing speech-language goals. Additionally, I, of course, look for those items which I think will be highly motivating for most kiddos.

Any toys/activities which provide multiple trials, such as cutting Velcro fruit/vegetables, putting money into toy banks, stacking nesting blocks, stringing beads, putting together jig-saw puzzles, picking ducks or fish out of a pond, pulling items out of a bag or box, and placing picture pieces on a felt board are super terrific for motivating children to imitate or produce target sounds, syllables or words. They also often provide opportunities for learning new vocabulary.

Imaginarium Felt Creations - Zoo - Amazon http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002IY59BQ/ref=s9_simh_se_p21_d0_i2?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=search-desktop-advertising-no-results-center-1&pf_rd_r=0QZ19WDZNCNMVCT50306&pf_rd_t=301&pf_rd_p=1912906122&pf_rd_i=Toys%20'R'%20Us%20Imaginarium%20Felt%20Creations%20-%20Prehistoric%20Dinosaur

Imaginarium Felt Creations – Zoo – Amazon


Easy Slice Fruits and Vegetable – http://www.cptoy.com/


fisher price laugh and learn piggy bank

Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Learning Piggy Bank – Amazon

all boys nesting blocks

All Boy Nesting Blocks – http://www.barnesandnoble.com


When buying books, I typically look for those which are interactive in nature. By this I mean books that include magnets, sliding parts, flaps, stickers, and the like. Receptive and expressive vocabulary as well as pronunciation of target words can be meaningfully addressed with active participation from your child.

Autism & PDD Categories 5-Book Set, Buddy Bear - http://www.linguisystems.com/products/product/display?itemid=10269

Autism & PDD Categories 5-Book Set, Buddy Bear – http://www.linguisystems.com/products/product/display?itemid=10269

"Slide and Find Christmas" - Walmart

“Slide and Find Christmas” – Walmart

"Colors - Magnetic Book" - Walmart

“Colors – Magnetic Book” – Walmart

Some of my preferred toy/book/game companies include www.lakeshorelearning.com and www.superduperinc.com. A seemingly endless supply of materials are available from these sites which include skill areas such as phonemic awareness, following directions, memory, sequencing, grammar, vocabulary, basic concepts, and questions.

Feel like singing? Fantastic CDs along with picture boards and manipulatives are available at http://www.kidscantalk.com/speech-enhancing-songs/.

Pretend play sets including kitchen, tools, baby dolls, and doctor/vet provide opportunities for exploring pronouns, following directions, vocabulary, and sentence structure. Playing with these sets opens up dialogue found in daily routines allowing for repetitive use of functional phrases needed for everyday communication.

Appealing active play items I’ve found to hold the interest of my little friends include Stomp Rockets, Velcro Mitts, Tic Tac Toe, and Elefun.

Traditional games like Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, Connect Four, Dominos, Go Fish, and BINGO can be transformed into excellent speech-language tools. I love to use Chutes and Ladders to practice using longer sentences and past tense verbs. Many games involve spinners/dice and counting which provides multiple opportunities to practice difficult sounds in number words (e.g., /f/ in “four” and “five,” /th/ in “three”). Similarly, color words offer articulation practice (e.g., /r/ in “red,” /gr/ and /bl/ in “green” and “blue”). Varieties of Dominos, Go Fish, and BINGO contain kid-friendly and trendy vocabulary.

Beyond motivation and interest, a nice starting point for choosing toys is your child’s current speech and language goals. It’s amazing how creative one can be when he/she begins looking around the house or in toy stores having a specific target sound, phrase, or skill in mind. Likewise, begin with a toy you think your child will like and brainstorm how many different teaching opportunities you can find while playing with it!

Happy shopping and Merry Christmas!

Bio: Katie is a speech-language pathologist who has been serving children of all ages for 15 years in home, daycare/preschool, school, and clinic settings. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC, in 1996 and her Master of Education degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Georgia in Athens, GA, in 1999. In her free time, she enjoys working out and running.

Like this post? You may also like:

Gift Ideas for Kids with Apraxia – Jake’s Journey blog, 2011

Gift Ideas for Children with Language Delays – Kid’s Creek blog, 2014

2 thoughts on “TOYS: It’s About HOW vs. WHAT

  1. Amber says:

    Loved this post! Thank you for all the ideas!

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