Great Toys for Language Development: ages 3 – 5

I’m back with installment two of “Great Toys for Language Development”! Today’s post is for kiddos age 3 through 5.

A good rule of thumb is that your child should be using phrases and sentences one word longer than their age in the early years. For example, two year olds should be using 2-3 word phrases, three year olds should be using 3-4 word phrases, etc. Here are some good items to target in order to expand language:

  • asking and answering questions
  • basic concepts (colors, shapes, prepositions)
  • sentence structure/syntax
  • adjectives

There are TONS of helpful games, books, and toys out there that target these areas so I will just share a few of my favorites!

  1. The book “Go, Dog, Go”: This book is wonderful for building simple sentences and learning adjectives (big, small, fast, slow, etc.)
  2. Guess Who?: This is a classic game that targets not only descriptors (talking about things like glasses, hat color, eye color, etc.) but it also helps children to form simple questions and answer them in turn.
  3. “I Spy” books: These are great for working on simple sentence structure (“I spy ___.”). This also works well for following directions using prepositions (example, “I spy the dog. It is over the star. It is under the duck, next to the car., etc.”)
  4. Shape Sorters: This toy is especially great if you find out that uses multiple colors as well as shapes. You can give your child one at a time and have them request using simple phrases, also (ex. “I want circle.”).
  5. Go Fish: This works best with card decks specifically made for Go Fish that have pictures the child can describe and not a normal deck of cards with numbers. This can work on phrases (“Do you have ___.”) as well as practice answering yes/no questions. You can also require the child to use describing words in their questions (example, “Do you have a BIG, BLUE fish?”)
  6. Pop-Up Pirate: This game offers multiple colors of swords that you stick into a barrel to make a pirate pop out. It’s great for colors, prepositions (in, out), and requesting/commenting.

Other random favorites: Cootie, Don’t Break the Ice, Go Away Monster, trains, cars, playdoh

This is just the TIP of the iceberg! The biggest keys are finding games that take turns and/or games you can CONTROL so the child MUST do some bit of work before they can continue the activity (whether it be asking for something in a phrase, naming a color/shape, etc.). When you are looking for unstructured ways to target these goals, it’s always a great idea to model alongside the child. For example, while coloring narrate what you are doing: “I am getting the RED crayon to draw a BIG moon! Wow, look how BIG that moon is! Now I will make a SMALL moon in GREEN.”

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