A farm is a wonderful toy for building language and it’s one of my favorites to use in speech therapy. Here are some ways you can use a farm to work on talking with your toddler at home:

 

Imitation: Imitation is the first step on the road to using words. We can encourage imitation by modeling animal sounds. Not only is it fun to imitate these sounds in okay, but many of them are made up of early developing sounds (moo, baa, neigh) and are easier to say because they have one consonant and vowel

 

Sing “Old McDonald”: This is another way to work on imitation of animal sounds. You can pause and look at your toddler expectantly to build in opportunities for your child to imitate. The rhythm and repetition of music has the added benefits for language

 

Use verbs: All sentences have an action word and verbs are the building blocks we little ones need to start using combinations. In a study by Hadley, Rispoli, and Hsu, the authors found that diversity of verbs in spontaneous speech was the single best predictor for later grammatical outcomes. In another study (Hsu et al. 2015) the authors found that the types of verbs children used were related to their sentence length three months later. Model verbs such as walking, eating, and sleeping

 

Expand what they say: Add a word to what your toddler says. This is called using expansions and it’s really helpful for working toward word combinations. If your toddler uses a word, add a word and say it back to them (in a grammatically correct way)! If they say “horse,” you might say, “Horse is sleeping!”

 

Give the animals a bath: Little ones love this! Give the animals a “bath” with a bowl of water or a spray bottle and target words such as wet, dry, water, soap, and bubbles

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