As you prepare for the busy holiday season, consider ways that you can promote speech and language skills with your child!

Here is a small selection of toys, games, and activities that can be used to facilitate imaginative play, turn-taking, engaging with peers, and many other skills. These would also make great gift ideas!

Cause and Effect

Understanding cause and effect results when children explore their environment and manipulate materials. They can do this by pressing buttons, shaking, and hitting items. The following toys can be used to facilitate understanding of cause and effect:

Toys that Light Up or Make Music
Pop-Up Toys

Play Skills

Functional play involves playing with items in their intended ways.

Car Ramp Set
  • Imaginative play involves role playing and acting out experiences. The following toys can be used to encourage imaginative play as well as social skills if used within play with other children.
Grocery Store
Toy Food
Play Tool Workbench


Receptive Language

Receptive language is a child’s ability to understand language. These skills are important for understanding concepts, answering questions, and following directions.

Lego Sets

Lego sets and other build-it-yourself activities often require following directions.


Books can be used to promote literacy development and a variety of language skills. Ask your child basic wh- questions (e.g., what, who, where) while you read to target receptive language.

Decorate the House

Give your child directions to follow while decorating the house for the holidays. You can embed various concepts (e.g., color, shape, size, number) into the directions as well. For example, “Put one red ornament on the tree” or “Pick up the blue ornament and put it on the tree.”

Play Simon Says


Expressive Language

Expressive language skills include being able to label, describe, answer questions, put words together, use grammar appropriately, and retell stories/events. Expressive language enables children to express their wants, needs, thoughts and ideas, and to engage in interactions with peers and adults.

Label Items

Name items together while looking at a book, in the car, looking outside, in play, or when Christmas shopping.

Engage in Play

Model how to play with toys, follow the child’s lead and talk about what they are doing with the toys. Model new words and phrases.


Look at books and talk about what you see. Stories help to model correct use of language. Ask questions about the events of the stories.


Sing songs together. Fun holiday examples include Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snowman, and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.


Sharing & Turn-Taking

Memory Games
Sports Games

Toss a baseball back and forth, kick a soccer ball to one another, or take turns shooting a basketball into a hoop.

Card Games
Pop the Pig
Pop Up Pirate



Written By:
Danielle Bornemann, MS, CCC-SLP & Brittany Macrander, MS, CCC-SLP