10 Gift Ideas for Children Ages 0-3 That Encourage Language Acquisition
I just woke up from my Thanksgiving food coma, only to realize that gift giving season is here (thank you nonstop target and Kmart commercials), so for the next three blog posts I’ll be recommending toys for kids that encourage language use and are fun too! Each week I will focus on a new age group. I’ll start with 0-3.
At this age children should have toys that encourage interaction with caregivers. This interaction exposes babies and toddlers to the rhythm and sound of language and encourages them to imitate the language models they hear. Here are a few suggestions.
Books are great at any age, but for babies and toddlers they provide a language model and their repetition and rhyming pattern encourage little ones to attend to the words and eventually imitate what they hear. Focus on books that are heavy on the rhyming and repetition. Here are a few of my favorites: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle; Is Your Mama a LlAMA? By Deborah Guarino; Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown; Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
2. Montessori Phonetic Reading Blocks
These blocks are great for babies and toddlers. Parents can say the sounds of each letter and the word that the letters make. While the kids use the blocks for teething or just have fun moving them around. Encourage toddlers to say the words too!
3. Mula Shape Sorter
Encourage your little boy or girl to try and say the names of the shapes as you put them in! They’ll want to play with this over and over again, so they’ll have loads of opportunities to label the shapes and colors.
4. A to Z Uppercase Maganatab
A magnetic stylus pulls the beads up to create solid lines for letters. Say the letters as you draw with your child or watch them draw. Encourage them to say their letters as they have fun “drawing”.
5. Farm Chunky Puzzle
Melissa and Doug- $9.99
I haven’t run into a toddler who doesn’t love this animal puzzle. We practice labeling animals and making their sounds. This even helps the shyest of young ones begin to use their voice.
6. Fisher-Price Little People Happy Sounds Home
This toy is great because it actually makes realistic environmental sounds. Practice labeling household items without walking around your house. You’re going to be surprised when your toddler suddenly labels some furniture after you’ve been playing with this fun toy for a while.
7. Mozart Magic Cube
Metropolitan Museum of Art Store- $34.95
Practice listening to and labeling classical instruments. Babies and parents will enjoy humming the tunes while learning about instruments. This will help any baby learn to attend to different sounds, which will eventually help them learn to differentiate speech sounds.
8. Baby’s First Words in Spanish
Amazon.com- audiobook download $10.95; Audio CD $8.17
This is great for infants and Toddlers. Put the CD on and practice singing to your baby in Spanish. Toddlers will enjoy saying all the new sounds and hearing the different intonation, and infants will benefit from the exposure to a second language. I have to admit that I am a bit biased towards this product because it was developed by my wonderful graduate school professor Erika Levy. Give it a try!
9. Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Case
Introduce your baby to the language of technology by encouraging them to tap, swipe and push buttons on the phone while they play one of the iPhone/iPod games recommended in my blog post titled, No More iPad Guilt : 9 Speech Pathologist Recommended, Guilt Free Apps for Kids.
10. Pearhead Ceramic Piggy Bank
With a piggy bank, parents can practice labeling coins and sticking them in the pig’s belly. I picked this piggy bank because many of the more child friendly ones (made of rubber, electronic etc.) had negative reviews about how hard it was to get the money out. When you’re practicing language you want to be able to repeat the activity many times, which will be hard if you can’t get the coins out easily.
For local shopping in Jersey City, try Pig and Pepper. They have some cute things for babies and toddlers and they’re right in the area. I love supporting local small businesses.
What I’m into…
Musicbox- Musicbox is an app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. It allows you to look up the song that you want to hear and play it…for free! Instead of waiting for your favorite song to come on Pandora, or buying it on itunes. It has thousands of songs so you’re bound to find whatever tune is in your head.
Netflix- House of Cards comes back in February! If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, watch a few episodes from the first season. I’m not someone who gets into a popular series (I still haven’t seen an episode of Scandal….yes, seriously. But I plan on watching a few episodes soon, I promise!) however I find this one is really interesting. I guess because I’m always wondering how close to real politics the show is.
Briana Evans, CCC-SLP is a licensed, certified speech language pathologist and owner of Speech Quest Speech and Language Therapy. She specializes in articulation, reading skills and early language development. She graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. In addition, she is working toward certification in PROMPT therapy, a kinesthetic articulation technique. She currently provides in-home or at-school services for children and teens. She believes in a lifestyle approach to speech therapy, which includes embedding support throughout the client’s daily life.