Growth & Development

Activities to Encourage Language Development

Nursery Rhyme Books: Toddlers love repetition and rhyming. Nursery rhymes are a great way to learn words and conversation. Read and sing them often. Point to the things going on in the pictures. See if your child will say a few of the words with you. When you sing familiar songs or rhymes, pause to see if they will say the missing word. Remember to let your pause last—toddlers sometimes need lots of time to think before coming up with the right word.

Old McDonald: Look at animal pictures with your child. As you do, sing the old McDonald song and see if your child will sing the name of the animal they see. You can both make the animal sounds together too.

Observing Actions: Talk about what other children are doing with your child as you watch them (like at a playground). See if he your child can name some of the things the others are doing, using, or playing with, and if they can tell how other children may be feeling (for example, “That boy is swinging and his face looks so happy”).

Weather and Seasons: Hang one or two weather or season pictures where your child can see them. Point to the picture that shows what the weather is like outside and talk about it. Ask your child to point out things in the picture (the sun, rain).

Action Games: Play an action word game with your child. Say words for actions you know your child can do (wave, clap). Do the actions as you say the words and see if your child will copy your actions. If they just want to watch, that’s fine too. You can still include them in the fun (“You’re watching me clap!”)

Combining Words: Be on the lookout for your child’s first use of two word-combinations (like “big ball”). When you hear a two-word sentence, show how excited it! Add to your child’s words—for example if your child says “More yogurt,” say “You finished your yogurt and now you want more!”

Puppet Games: Use a puppet for your child to talk to. Have the puppet ask your child questions that you think they might be able to answer. Be silly with the puppet as it asks about your child’s name, clothes, body parts, toys, food, etc.

Word Songs: When your child says a word, play with the word by singing about it. For example, if your child asks to be picked up by saying “up” and stretching out their arms, you can sing a little tune as you lift them up. “Up? Do you want to be picked up? Up, up, up you go!”

Content created in partnership with
Seedlings Group