Expanding Language Skills in the Home Environment for Toddlers


  • Increase length of utterances by adding one word to your child’s word.  If your child uses one word phrases, use two word phrases, etc.  Keep adding words to your child’s words by adding descriptive words (i.e. big ball).
  • Narrate your child’s actions during play. “She is climbing the stairs. or He is flying an airplane.”
  • Act out familiar routines during play with characters (i.e. bath routines, pre-school routines, etc.)
  • Provide choices in a field of two for books, clothes, toys, etc.
  • Create situations to make your child ask for help.  Keep toys in containers with lids or keep toys up high.
  • Use lots of intonation when playing with your child.
  • Over exaggerate sounds when playing or reading with your child.
  • Read books using short simple phrases.  Don’t read all the words on the page.
  • Build vocabulary during daily routines, such a bathtime.  Use words such as wet, cold, dry, hot, in, out, etc.
  • Use short simple phrases when talking to your child (i.e.  Get shoes.)

Summer….is near!


Although, we may still be wearing boots and sweaters in the middle of May warm weather is near.  As the school year ends and summer approaches, words like swimming, lemonade, fire flies, ice cream, picnics, and camp come to mind.  For some of us these words may trigger fond memories of our favorite summer or for others it may trigger questions (i.e. What are our summer plans?).  While families are busy figuring out summer schedules, children are anticipating their last day of school.  In the mix of all the commotion, there are  many opportunities to continue to build your child’s speech and language skills.  Journals can be used to build language skills, such as keeping a summer word journal.   You can have your child pick out the word journal and decorate it, too.  Every couple of pages can target a different skill, such as synonyms and antonyms, comparing and contrasting, categories, or unfamiliar words.  The word “summer” can trigger many words for the journal (i.e. Name things you wear in the summer.  Name insects.  Tell how mosquitoes and bees are the same.).  You can use pictures from a magazine or paste real objects into the journal.  At the end of the week, encourage your child to share the journal with you and connect the words to everyday situations.  The journal is portable, so it can be taken to camp or to grandma or grandpa’s house.



I Spy…..License Plate Bingo….and 20 Questions are games that can be played in the car to pass time, but these games also help build speech and language skills.  You can play them while running errands or on a road trip.  I Spy and 20 Questions can be used to target a particular speech sound (i.e. ssssssss….  SUN), build vocabulary (i.e. I spy something that is round, yellow, and hot.  What am I?), and formulate questions (i.e.  Do you use it at the beach?).  You can also target turn taking skills with other siblings, cousins, or friends along for the ride.  License Plate Bingo can be used during road trips.  This game can generate lots of questions.   How many license plates will you find? What license plates would be the most difficult to find and why?  If you saw a license plate from California or Alaska in the state of Illinois, what could the child infer?  Is the family traveling?  Did the family just move?  Looking at a map before the trip and using the license plate app may result in other spontaneous questions or learning opportunities before, after, and during a memorable road trip.

Below you will find the link to the app License Plate Game.



As I think about activities to increase awareness of asking questions, games such as Guess Who, Bingo, and Hide and Go Seek come to mind.  They can target simple wh-questions (i.e. who, what, where, when).  Items which can be tossed or rolled (i.e. bean bags, squishy balls, pillows, etc.) are good tools to build wh-questions.  The person holding the ball is the asker, while the person without the ball is the listener.  Have each person pick his or her favorite character, like Cinderella or SpongeBob SquarePants.  Next, take turns asking and answering wh-questions (i.e.  Where does SpongeBob SquarePants live?  What does Cinderella’s dress look like?) while tossing the ball.  These activities target asking and answering questions and can build conversational skills.