How do I teach new vocabulary to my child?

Using Toys and Books for Play-based Speech Therapy at Home

Know where to start when teaching new vocabulary to your young children using these tips from a Speech Therapist.

What types of books are best for toddlers?

I have a full list of recommended books for toddlers here on my website. The key is simple, engaging pictures with very few words. Ideally, the book will use simple words and short phrases repeated multiple times throughout the book. Sometimes it can be challenging to find books like this, which is why I’ve written and illustrated a collection of children’s picture books.

How should I read a book to a toddler?

You can learn more about the best way to use books with toddlers in this youtube video. I tell my clients that the main point is to talk about the pictures in the book rather than read it.

What if my child isn't interested in books?

Some parents I’ve worked with have expressed concern that their little one isn’t interested in books. I work with toddlers, and most of them are not interested in books at that young age. If they are, their attention span is short, and it requires the adults to be very animated to engage them. If your child just doesn’t seem to get into books, it’s okay; this is not uncommon. Wait until they’re a little bit older, and you can circle back to it later in the future.

What else should I use instead of books to teach my child?

There’s good news! You can still do the same type of teaching you would do with books but instead with toys. One of my favorites examples is the stacking blocks I use in speech therapy. 

I have Pet The Cat stacking blocks, but there are so many other types and brands. I use the pictures on the blocks like a book to tell a story, but because they are blocks and not books, children tend to respond to them with more enthusiasm. It’s much more fun and engaging for a young one to hold and manipulate blocks than flip through a book. I’m still talking about what’s happening in pictures and allowing the child the opportunity to answer some questions and create some sentences. I’m teaching them the verbs that relate to what they see in the pictures on the boxes.

How do I use toys to teach my child new words?

I have a video where I do this activity with a child. He was just about to graduate from speech therapy, and the stacking blocks were a useful tool throughout the process. You can check out that video here

Play Video

Check out Jeff and Heather’s story. Their parents of a 17-month-old and found help through my online course.

* indicates required
What best describes your role?