We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.
If you ever wanted to know what toys are best for speech and language development, look no further!
I put together a long list of open-ended toys for you to browse, keeping toddlers in mind especially.
In my article, 9 Ways to Boost Your Toddler’s Speech, I mention toys as one of the ways to encourage your child in expanding their skills.
However, not all toys are created equal, and not even all educational toys will have the same impact on toddlers’ development.
An article in Psychological Science, says:
Toys are opportunities for play, for exploration, and for social interaction; an educational toy that promotes these will have a positive effect, but so will an everyday household object — if used in the right way.
According to this statement, you don’t have to buy speaking and moving toys, or even any toy whatsoever. A bowl and a wooden spoon can have just as much of a positive impact as a popular educational toy.
The same article also states, that
The joint play of parents — both mothers and fathers — and children can have long-term effects on children’s development, according to a recent study of two and three-year old children (…)
That study just proves that toys in and of themselves are not going to “do” anything magical to a child’s language and speech development.
Children, quality toys, and parents have to work together in order to boost language and speech.
If you want to learn about more ways to encourage language skills, read this article.
Earlier, I mentioned “open-ended” toys, and I wanted to explain what that means. Open-ended toys are items that leave most of the interpretation and creativity up to the child.
They don’t show them or tell them how to play, but rather let them have free reign.
For example, a set of legos can be an open-ended toy, because a kid has pretty much endless options to build and there’s no wrong way to play. A noise making and talking, full-of-buttons toy, however, is usually playing instead of the child who is mostly just watching.
I am not saying you can’t have a few of those toys or that they will make your kids mute. What I am saying is that there are much better and simpler options, toys that can be used with different ages and in a variety ways and we should strive to have more of those.
All of the toys that made the list will grow with your child, making them also very cost-effective.
This list then is about those “open-ended, quality toys” that you and your child can use together to have fun, and also to explore new sounds, words, and expressions.
Here’s a list of the best toys that can boost language and speech development.
1. Wooden Blocks
This basic Melissa and Doug wooden blocks set is a classic. There are endless possibilities for building and younger kids can safely chew them because the blocks are painted with non-toxic paint.
There are endless possibilities for building and younger kids can safely chew them because the blocks are painted with non-toxic paint.
2. Ride-on Toy
It really doesn’t matter if you buy your toddler a small car from a second-hand store or buy this awesome Little Tykes Cozy Coupe.
The point is that toddler love ride-on toys and can benefit from them in more than one way.
Car washes, filling the “tank” up with gas or fixing a broken down car are all opportunities for learning new words and participate in a conversation.
3. Doctor Kit
This Fisher Price doctor kit is very simple, without a ton of accessories, which makes it my top choice out of the many options.
Not only will this kit help familiarize your toddler with new words, it will also aid in making doctors seem a little less scary.
4. Doll and Bed
A simple soft doll is all a toddler needs to begin, and yes, even boys are encouraged to play along. After all, aren’t they likely to be dads one day?
Manhattan Toys Baby Stella Doll comes with minimal accessories, several styles, and a few different price levels.
This IKEA doll bed is a simple addition to the doll.
Can you already hear bedtime conversation happening?
5. Kitchen and Food
However, if you are looking into purchasing a kitchen that will last for many years, consider this KidKraft Vintage kitchen.
It’s not overwhelmingly big, but tall enough to suit an older child.
A classic Duplo set is another great tool for creating an enriching environment.
7. Nesting cups
You may want to use nesting toys to teach the concepts of under, on top of, inside of, smaller, bigger, colors, etc.
We have had a set of nesting cups with each of my children and they loved it. A homemade version of this toy is different sized containers that fit into each other.
A top favorite toy at our house and absolutely worth every penny: building magnets. They can be used in so many ways!
And because they have no small parts, even babies can touch and mouth them, making it a perfect toy for all siblings to share.
9. Dry Erase Crayons
Low on mess, high on fun, dry erase crayons claim to be a kid and adult favorite. This is something I have yet to test, but I have high expectations based on the reviews!
Don’t forget the dry erase board to go with them.
10. Play Silk
Another item that seems a little costly at first, but play silks are surprisingly versatile and durable.
They can be used for dressing up, cooking, wrapping dolls, playing peek-a-boo and much more. Presented with thicker or rougher materials, your child can also learn about different textures and their names.
Here’s the link to a less expensive, but still great option.
11. Barn and Animals
Schleich animals are quality made and very realistic, I highly recommend them! The link will take you to a starter set, but you can pick and choose hundreds of different animals besides those.
There are way too many to choose from, but Matchbox cars are simply the best miniature cars out there.
Designed with various vehicles in mind, they still stay open-ended enough for a child to have complete control over playing.
This toolbox will not only create an opportunity to teach language skills, it will also involve dads. After all, they are great at teaching too, let’s not forget them!
While books are not really called open-ended toys, they definitely made this list because they are so crucial to language and speech development from the very beginning.
Here’s a good list to get you started.
Small stainless steel bowls have been one of my kids’ favorite non-toy toys.
The bowls can be used for hiding things under them or sorting, they make a great noise as a drum and of course, very handy in the play kitchen.
Just like with Duplos, it does not really matter what type of ball you provide for your toddler, the point is to make a few available.
This sensory balls set looks pretty good, we have something similar that all of my kids have played with.
17. Chain Links
Chain links can be used at any age and in any way you please. They set the stage for a ton of conversation about size, shape, and color, just to name a few! Purchase a plastic food canister to store them and you will instantly have even more to talk about (inside, outside, numbers, opposites, etc)
Purchase a plastic food canister to store them in and you will instantly have even more to talk about (inside, outside, numbers, opposites, etc)
18. Train set
We bought a second-hand train set for my son when he was 2. He loved it ever since. Orbrium’s train set seems very well made and compatible with extension packs or other train sets.
19. Ice Cream Set
The Melissa and Doug Ice Cream Set is magnetic, which makes “scooping ice cream” easy even for toddlers. There are tons of creative play opportunities and conversation starters with this one too.
A play tunnel will not only get your little one moving, it will also create opportunities to expand their vocabulary. Peek-a-boo, hide and seek or hiding and finding objects are just a few ideas you can use this open-ended toy for!
I hope you find inspiration from this post that helps you set up an enriching environment for speech and language development.
What other, open-ended would you add to the list? Share with me in the comments!
Like what you read? Please share with your friends!