Top 5 Preschool Toys for Improving Your Child's Language & Social Skills

Hi, we’re Kristen and Ashley from Out of the Box Speech, a speech therapy private practice based out of Hoboken, NJ. We are super excited to kick off our OOTB Top 5 series for the Little Hoboken community!

This OOTB top 5 is all about one of our favorite things--PLAY! Play is an essential way that children learn about the world around them and develop important social, emotional and language skills. We’ve picked out our top 5 preschool toys for improving your child’s language and social skills at home!

Does your child struggle with using their imagination and pretend playing? Try a Birthday Cake!

1. Pretend play is SO important for language development! Holding a pretend birthday party is a great way for your child to take on so many roles with so much accompanying language! Practice being the guest while requesting a specific piece of cake, picking out a gift or making a card. Take turns being the host while baking and serving the cake. Practice being the Birthday boy or girl while you count and blow out the candles! We encourage you to have many, many Birthday parties because repetition is key when teaching new vocabulary. Oh, and parties are so much fun!

Does your child struggle to understand your directions? Try a Sticker Pad and Scenes!

2. Who doesn’t love stickers?! They’re motivating and so versatile! We love to use these sticker scenes to practice following directions. First, review the different vocabulary on the stickers and the scenes and then pick 1-2 concepts that your child has difficulty with (i.e. top, bottom, left, next to, in front of, etc). Give your child directions on where to place the stickers. It’s doubly fun if you give your child opportunities to give YOU directions, as well!

Does your child have difficulty sticking to activities and games for longer than a few minutes? Try Pop-up Pirate!

3. This adorable pirate-themed game is the perfect introduction to waiting for and taking turns. Take turns putting swords into the barrel until the pirate pops out of the barrel. Each game is short and repetitive, so it’s the perfect opportunity to build attention, practice making requests (“I want a red sword!”) and review colors. It’s helpful to give your child the language that goes with games, such as “It’s my turn!” before turns and “Good game!” at the end of the game.

Does your child have difficulty understanding vocabulary and early concepts, such as big/little and more/less? Try Play-doh and cookie cutters!

4. Squish! Roll! Cut! Play-doh and cookie cutters are a great way to encourage your children to use their imagination while also learning early concepts such as colors, size and shapes! Take turns rolling a “big” and a “little” ball and then have a race to find out whose ball is the FASTEST! When playing with the cookie cutters, pick 5 to introduce new vocabulary!

Does your child have difficulty solving problems and regulating their emotions when a problem is particularly challenging? Try Magnatiles!

5. Magnetic building blocks are a great way for your child to explore their creativity, collaborate with others and stretch their imagination. Have a building contest and challenge your child to create a specific object or replicate a picture. Encourage your child to get creative and problem solve to build their object. If your child’s object breaks or falls down, use it as an opportunity to discuss frustration, validate their feelings and give them the language to voice their frustrations.

We loved sharing 5 of our tips and tricks (and toys) with all of you! You can find more info about our individual and group speech and language services (including our upcoming preschool language and social skill group called “The Speech Bubbles!”) Make sure to come say “Hi!” or get some inspiration for fun at-home language activities on instagram @outoftheboxspeech! Until next time, have fun playing, exploring and learning!