Activities to promote
speech and language development
2 year olds

Understands simple questions and commands.

Listens to stories and points to pictures when asked.

Understands simple time concepts such as “last night” and “tomorrow."

Knows the words big and

Names familiar objects.
Uses simple phrases and sentences.
Ask beginning questions.
Vocabulary is around 200 words (450 words by age 2 ½).

No longer produces jargon.


Discuss daily events before, during, and after they occur.
Show your child pictures that show action to encourage the use of verbs.
Give labels to your child’s expressed emotions, i.e. “You’re feeling sad that the paper tore.”
Tell stories, freeing your child from looking at pictures and bringing him or her closer to the power of words.

Introduce new vocabulary and concepts.
Use open-ended questions requiring more than one answer, i.e. “Tell me what your bedroom looks like.”
Provided language experiences rich in rhyme, repetition, fantasy, humor, and exaggeration.

For dysfluency: Be patient, don’t interrupt, slow down your own speech, be matter-of-fact, don’t pressure your child to speak to strangers.

Help your child classify objects and things, such as talking about what kinds of things you can ride in.
Ask your child to help you plan activities such as what you will bring on a trip.

Give your child more responsibility.
Read longer stories with your child.
Encourage your child’s made-up stories by listening to them and drawing pictures about them.

Continue to show pleasure in your child’s development in speech, language, and thought.
Ask your child to tell you about his or her experiences at school, a friend’s house, or the park.
Encourage your child to use language to express feelings, ideas, dreams, wishes, and fears.
Allow your child to create new, free designs with crayons, markers, or pencils.

3 year olds

Identify the usage of things in pictures i.e. “Show me the one you wear.”
Understands on and in.
Matches primary colors, names one color.

Follows directions with prepositional phrases, i.e. “Put the block under the chair.”

Vocabulary of 500-1000 words.
Speech is intelligible.
Can carry on a conversation.
Forms negative statements.

 May show some dysfluency (hesitates or repeats whole words or phrases).

4 year olds




5 year olds





Follows 2 step commands and commands where the object is not present.

Identifies crosses, triangles, circles, and squares.

Copies a line and a circle.


Follows 3 step commands.
Knows words for spatial relations such as on top, behind, far, near, over, under.
Understands the words same and different.

Knows common opposites (i.e. hard/soft).


Speaks in complete sentences.
Uses past tense correctly.
Can speak of imaginary conditions such as “Suppose that…” or “I hope…”.

Asks many questions including “who” and “why.”


Child corrects his own errors in learning to pronounce new words.
Uses all parts of speech and verb tenses correctly.
Tells a story with a simple plot (problem, action to solve problem, outcome).

Uses all types of sentences, some of which can be complex.






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