Child Speech Development Activities at Home

Speech development is a crucial aspect of a child’s overall development, especially during the early years. It supports a child’s ability to speak, understand and express emotion. One of the best and simple ways to encourage a child’s speech development is to do a lot of talking together about everyday activities.

“Language learning can easily be incorporated into daily activities. Children are constantly learning language receptively and expressively in all environments,” said Melissa Gran, speech and language pathologist at CHOC Children’s.

Every child may not speak at the same pace and some children develop in certain areas faster than others. Speech and language are the foremost common areas of development that can be delayed. Child’s speech development generally progresses at a fast pace after the first 18 months. According to the American Academy of paediatrics, 2-3-year-old children should recognize names of familiar people, body parts, objects and say many single words, easy phrases and two- to four-word sentences. To assist toddlers to reach their language milestones, parents should engage them in a variety of speech development activities at home. Engaging children through activities is a good way to boost communication skills. So, below are some speech development activities for toddlers that you can do at home with them 🙂

Activities that help in child speech development
1. Read Books to your child
  • Reading a picture book to your toddler is a great way to help children develop their speech.
  • Clear and colourful pictures in the book can keep them engaged for a longer period of time.
  • You don’t have to read every word but talk about the pictures in the book.
  • You can also point at images in the book and ask your child “What’s this?”.
  • You can also relate the image in the book with the real objects at home (if available).
  • Always conclude the story with a message.
  • Next time when you read the storybook, at the end of the story ask the child about the message.
How it contributes to child speech development?
  • Reading books aloud to children stimulates their imagination and improves their vocabulary.
  • It helps them develop language and listening skills and make them understand the meaning of a word.
2. Engage your child in Puppet play
  • Put a puppet on your hand and use it to have simple conversations with your child.
  • Try to use different voices as you make the puppet talk to her.
  • Allow your child to touch the puppet while it talks and try to engage in a dialogue.
  • Also, you can use a puppet while reading a book for your child or reciting rhymes.
How it contributes to child speech development?
  • Hand Puppets are an ideal toy for developing speaking and listening skills.
  • Children often communicate more easily with puppets, giving them the confidence to express their emotions.
  • Puppet plays are open-ended and provide an opportunity to experiment freely with words.
3. Drink with a Straw
  • Drink water using a straw, as your child watches.
  • Show her how she needs to breathe-in for drinking.
  • Allow your child to take turns.
  • Encourage her to drink thick beverages like a milkshake, banana shake etc.
  • Next, use a straw to blow bubbles in a bowl of drinking water. Allow your child to take turns.
  • You can also place the cotton on the table.  Now, take a straw & let her blow through it to make a cotton ball move.

* Once, your child is comfortable with straight straw, ask her to repeat the above activities using a curly straw. Curly straws take a little more muscular strength and work more than the straight straw.

How it contributes to child speech development?
  • Drinking from a straw is an effective way of improving a child’s oral skills.  
  • It works on lip seal, tongue retraction, cheek strength, correct jaw position, suck-swallow-breathe coordination, consecutive swallows, strengthen the oral muscles and more, making speech easier.
4. Make fun sounds with movement

This is the most favourite and effective activity to encourage speech. Toddlers do so well imitate speech when it is paired with action. There is a reason that toddlers often learn how to make animal sounds earlier than saying actual words. It is because sounds are easier for children to learn than words. So here are the few examples of action words for encouraging toddler’s speech:

  • Say “yay!” when giving hi-five or clapping
  • Say “beep, beep!” when hearing the horn
  • Say “jump, jump!” when jumping on the bed
  • Say “up, up, up!” when climbing stairs
  • Say “zoom, zoom, zoom!” when scribbling with a crayon
How it contributes to child speech development?
  • Rhyming words help children to experience the language’s rhythm.
  • Rhyming words teach children the letter and word sounds.
  • Also, it is a fun activity that adds joy to both parent and child.
5. Put things out of reach
  • Hide your child’s favourite toy or book somewhere in the house, and ask your child to find it.
  • They will ask you for help.
  • Guide her and search along with her.
  • Give her the clues like “near”, “far” or “above the red table” etc.
How it contributes to child speech development?
  • Kids are more likely to talk when they really want something.
  • This activity will help them to understand the directions and attributes of an object.
6. Teach them to ask for things
  • Offer your child choices. Allow them to choose among the choices.
  • When giving your child something for snacks, ask them, say “Does baby want an apple or milk?” whether milk is hot or cold? etc
  • Allow them to choose among the options and wait for their response.
How it contributes to child speech development?
  • Children learn to make a decision and ask for their favourite things.
  • This activity helps in child’s neurodevelopment.
7. Clap and Sing
  • Start with the rhyme that has simple easy sentences and rhyming words.
  • Watch the rhyme videos or hear the rhyme audios together.
  • Sing rhymes to or along with your child.
  • Encourage two-way conversation – for example, when your child says ‘hand’, you can ask ‘where is the baby’s hand?’
  • When your child is talking, smile at her and praise her efforts to talk.
  • Also, you can ask your child, to complete the sentences while singing the rhyme, like say “Baa baa black sheep”, and encourage your child to complete the rest.
  • Pause after speaking. This gives your child a chance to respond.
  • Use lots of hand movements like clapping, waving hands, and other gestures along with the appropriate words.
How it contributes to child speech development?
  • All these gestures help the child to associate a word with meaning and build their vocabulary.
  • Rhymes are engaging activity and contain rhythm, the skill that helps with a child’s speech development.
8. Tube talk with a toddler
  • Use a cardboard tube to talk and make different types of sounds, as your child watches.
  • Help her to practice the following sounds  “aaa”, “baa”, “caa”, “daa”.
  • Next, talk to her about objects which start with these sounds like “aaa” makes Apple, Aeroplane etc., “baa” make Bag, Banana etc., “caa” makes Cat, Cap etc.,”daa” makes Dadda, Doll, Dog etc.
  • Cardboard tubes are also used for making funny voices or animal sounds.
  • Let your child take a turn to see what sounds she can produce.
  • You can also announce, “I’m going to tell you a secret,” then put it next to one of your toddler’s ears and tell something simple – “Shall we play?”.
  • Let her reply the same way as you did.  
How it contributes to child speech development?
  • When you blow the cardboard tube, toddlers see your mouth moving so she knows the source of the sounds.
  • Toddlers start to move their mouth by seeing you and produce different types of sounds using cardboard tubes.
9. Phone conversation
  • You can get a pair of dummy mobile phone for your little one.
  • Pretend to talk on dummy phone and encourage her to answer.
  • Talk in simple sentences (“How are you?” or “What are you doing?”).
  • Next, ask the child to continue the discussions over the dummy phone.
How it contributes to child speech development?

This will encourage them to talk, and will also teach them the proper way to listen to others.  

10. Roleplay
  • Encourage your child to act out real-life scenarios such as talking to a puppet, cooking, dressing up a doll, doctor game etc.
  • Make her describe every act loudly and use actual words which you use in real life.
  • For example: If she plays a doctor role, be her patient and give her way to talk.
How it contributes to child speech development?

Pretend play-acts as a  foundation for your child’s language skills and it is an excellent way to expose your child to new words that she may not be exposed to in daily life.

11. Blow the paper blowers
  • Use Paper Blower to produce sounds, as your child watches.
  • Next, allow her to take turns.
  • While she blows paper blower to produce sound, provide instructions like “Blow slow, loud, louder.”
  • Next, ask her questions like What do you hear?  How are the sounds being made? Do the sounds change when you blow slow and fast etc.
How it contributes to child speech development?
  • Blowing is an effective speech therapy activity.
  • This activity will strengthen the oral muscles in her mouth.
12. Play the flute
  • Hold the flute and play it for your child.
  • Teach your child how to position her mouth and blow.
  • You can always appreciate your child once she produces sounds from the flute.
  • She will love to do it back again and again.
How it contributes to child speech development?
  • Flute improves her pronunciation.
  • It also helps in healthy breathing and finger dexterity of a child gets improved.
13. Tell your baby what you are doing
  • Use everyday situations to reinforce your child’s speech.
  • When you are changing their clothes, giving them a bath or feeding, naming foods at the grocery store explain what you are doing.
  • Ask questions and wait for your child’s responses.
How it contributes to child speech development?
  • Toddlers tend to pay more attention and respond more eagerly to elders.
  • The more they hear you the more they begin to understand and communicate back at the appropriate time.

These speech development activities will stimulate your child’s speech. We hope you found this useful. If you practice any speech therapy activity at home, feel free to share the activity in the comment section below!

Tips for supporting your child’s language development

2 thoughts on “Child Speech Development Activities at Home”

  1. I have a 5 years old non verbal autistic daughter. Can your tools help her get her speech back. Please suggest is it useful for autistic kids also

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