Teaching Toddlers New Words with Language Rich Activities

Did you know that teaching preschoolers or toddlers new words with language-rich activities is super easy? It’s true! You don’t even need to spend a ton of money and you can do it at home! You probably already have everything you need and it’s really fun too!

A language-rich activity is any activity that has the potential to expose your child to a lot of language. Some activities, such as baking, reading, or going to the grocery store naturally cause us to use a lot of words. These are language-rich activities. Other activities, such as building a block tower, kicking a ball, or looking at flashcards only cause us to use a few simple words. While these activities develop important skills, they are not language rich activities.

language rich activities to do at home with toddlers

Language Rich Activities for Teaching Toddlers New Words

  • Reading
    • Reading exposes your child to endless new words. Don’t be afraid to pick books that are slightly above what your feel like your child’s “level” is. If your child has a difficult time attending to reading, set a timer. Have your child read for the duration of the timer, and gradually increase the amount of time until your child is able to sit through an entire book.
    • Our lives are very busy. As silly as it sounds, it can be hard to remember to read! If this sounds familiar, try adding a reading time into your bedtime routine. Your child will come to expect it and it won’t be as easy to forget!
  • Cooking/Baking
    • Cooking and baking are my favorite language rich activities. Everyone enjoys a treat, and it is a great way to bond with your child. It also works on a ton of language skills in a fun and natural way. Here are a few of my favorite things to make in the kitchen:
baking and cooking are great language rich activities to teach toddlers and preschoolers new words
  • Field Trips
    • A field trip is anywhere you can go, where you focus on teaching your child new words. It can literally be anywhere, but here are few examples:
      • Grocery Store
      • Parks
      • Library
      • Bank
      • Zoo
      • Walks in your neighborhood
  • Playing
    • Not all toys were created equal. Some toys are better at teaching new words than others. Remember the tower and ball example from earlier? Here are a few of my favorite language rich toys/play ideas:

language rich toys and activities to teach toddlers new words
  • Doing Housework
    • Housework is a great way to teach new words. Just make sure you are being patient with your child and talking to him/her while you are working. The more you talk, the more you are exposing your child to new words. Here are few chores that toddlers can help with:
      • Dusting
      • Picking up toys
      • Clearing their plate after dinner
      • Feeding Pets
      • Wiping counters
  • Crafts and “Science Experiments”
    • I am not going to list ideas here. But crafts and science experiments are other great language rich activities. You can do a search on Pinterest or the internet for “toddler craft ideas” or “toddler science experiments” to get you started!  
crafts and science experiments are great ways to teach toddlers new words

A few more tips for teaching toddlers and preschoolers new words…

Spend your time strategically. Focus on teaching your child core words first. These are the words that are the most functional and will help your child become a better communicator.

You will notice that I did not list any ABC, color, counting, or other “academic” type activities here. That was intentional.

While learning the ABC’s is an important skill, it is not a functional skill for a toddler. If your main goal is for your child to learn more words, focus your time on language-rich activities like the ones I listed above.

I hope you can see that it is easy to provide your toddler or preschooler with language rich activities at home! If you would like more ideas on how to teach your toddler language be sure and check out this video series on YouTube or grab a copy of these parent handouts. They were created by me ( a real SLP-Mom), so the strategies are easy for any parent to use!

**Quick Disclaimer: The ideas shared in this post are meant to educate and help caregivers feel more confident implementing speech therapy-type activities at home. They are not intended to be a substitute for speech therapy with a licensed SLP, as each child has unique needs.**

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