Are you overwhelmed with all the toy lists and choices out there for which toys help with speech and language development?
As a Speech Language Pathologist and mom, let me help you!
So, you've probably heard before, the #1 toy for your child is YOU. Which is absolutely true! But! if you want an idea for an actual toy that is a great second best to you that you can actually give your child as a present (and ....if you don't think your child would appreciate you wrapping yourself up as one of his presents), then I have the toy for you!
Whether you have a late talker or need a gift that will actually help your child’s development instead of a toy they will play with for a day or 2 and then throw away...Or… a toy that is so loud and annoying that it will definitely end up in the donation box 2 weeks after Christmas or their birthday.
This toy is my ‘go to’ toy that I break out when I need something fun and engaging that almost every kid likes.
If you are sick of paying tons of money for whatever the latest electronic toy or character of the moment is, consider getting one of these for your child.
Don't worry, I'm not going to try to sell you anything! You can actually make this simple toy on your own for free and it will be just as fun!
This toy is so effective with toddlers and preschoolers in helping them communicate, but it’s also so fun! If your child doesn’t have one, you need to get one asap! And, since it is actually you controlling what the toy does, it's almost like your child having you as a toy.
Have you guessed what it is yet? It is a sock puppet!
With this toy, you can….
-Get your child talking without trying too hard
-Get & hold your child’s attention
-Practice turn taking
-Have fun & be silly
-Laugh and bond with your child while improving communication
If you haven’t played with one before with your child, you will be amazed at not only how fun it can be, but how much communication you can practice while playing with this toy.
Feel free to use an old (but hopefully clean) sock, and add a face, mouth, eyes, & hair. It’s really fun to add googly eyes, fun and different colored hair, and personalize it for your child! You can even give it a name, or have your child name it!
It really doesn’t matter what it looks like, if you make it or buy it, just make sure it looks approachable- nothing scary please! But, silly is always welcome and encouraged!
Here’s are some tips on how to use it…
FIrst of all, you need to get ready to be silly. There should be nothing boring about this puppet, you will be bringing the personality to it, so be super animated….. Use a silly voice…. Be “in character”...... These are the things that will make it fun & interesting to your child and will also help maintain your child’s attention.
Make it special
When you play with the puppet with your child, make it a special time. Put it away somewhere when you aren’t using it and don’t leave it laying around with all the other toys. It will also make it more exciting when you bring it out if your child doesn’t see it all the time.
Follow your child’s lead
Make sure you read your child’s cues and adjust your puppet’s personality and actions as needed. Some little ones are more sensitive and would not enjoy a super loud overly-animated puppet. Or, maybe a certain different voice you use will scare your child. On the other hand, some will love it! Try out some different ways of talking and acting and make sure you watch how your child reacts and keep it light and always fun!
Keep it interesting
This puppet should do funny things and make mistakes a lot. Most kids will think it is hilarious when the puppet does something unexpected, like try to eat something that isn’t food because they don’t know any better… or they say the wrong name for a word your child already knows (i.e. calling your child by a different name, or saying “meow” when the puppet sees a dog). This can be an especially fun opportunity for communicating because your child may be very motivated to “correct” and “teach” the puppet things that he already knows. This will make for some amazing communication opportunities for your child!
I absolutely love using this toy and I especially love how many amazing ways it encourages communication! Have fun and be creative in how you play with it with your child!
If you don’t want to make the puppet yourself, there are lots of different versions you can buy, see one example here: Puppet
If you want more help & support, check out my parent membership where I help parents jumpstart their child's progress at home. Learn more here.