Activities to Encourage Speech and Language Development


Age Range


All Ages

Talk to, sing, play with, and read to your child 

0-5 months

  • Cuddle, talk, and play during feeding, dressing, and bathing
  • Play peek-a-boo
  • Use short statements and clear language 
  • Copy your child’s sounds
  • Give age-appropriate toys, like rattles and colorful picture books

6-8 months

  • Play on the floor with your baby
  • Use reciprocal play - copy his/her facial expressions, sounds
  • Repeat your child’s sounds and say simple words with them. For example, if your baby says “bah”, say “bottle” or “book”
  • When your child looks at something, point to it and talk about it

9-11 months

  • Play games with “my turn, your turn”. For example: rolling balls back and forth, pushing cars and trucks, building with blocks
  • Say what you think your baby is feeling. For example: “You are so sad, let’s see if we can make you feel better”
  • Describe what your baby is looking at. For example: “big, red ball”
  • Talk about what your child wants when he/she points at something

12-17 months

  • Talk to your child during routines. For example: during bath time, “Mommy is washing your hands with a washcloth”
  • Have your child turn the pages while you read together. Take turns labeling pictures 
  • Expand what your child says, tries to say, or points to. For example, if your child says “d” or “dog”, say “Yes, that’s a big, brown dog”
  • Hide small toys and have your child find them
  • Ask your child to label body parts or things you see as you’re driving in the car 
  • Sing songs with actions, like “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” or “Wheels on the Bus”. Help your child do the actions with you

18-23 months

  • Encourage pretend play (e.g., play chef, doctor, dress-up, dolls)
  • Read books and talk about the pictures using simple words and sentences
  • Use words that describe feelings
  • Ask simple questions
  • Pause after speaking to give your child a chance to respond

2-4 years

  • Encourage your child to say words in addition to pointing
  • Help your chid do puzzles with shapes, colors, animals, vehicles, etc.
  • Play with blocks by working together or taking turns building towers and knocking them down
  • Read with your child and ask her/him to help turn the pages, point to things in the pictures and repeat words after you. Help your child tell you what happened in the story as you go
  • Give instructions with 2-3 steps (e.g., Go to your room and get your shoes and jacket)
  • Play matching games with objects in books, pictures, or around the house
  • Play make-believe. Let your child lead and copy what he/she does
  • Encourage your child to say words, share toys, and take turns playing games of someone else’s choice
  • Use words like “first”, “second”, and “finally” when talking about everyday activities to help your child learn about a sequence of events
  • Say colors in books, pictures, and things at home. Count common items, like number of crackers, stairs, or toy trains
  • Play outdoor games like tag, follow the leader, and duck duck goose
  • Play music, sing, and dance. Take turns copying each other’s dance moves

4-6 years

  • Have your child guess what you describe. For example: “It is cold, sweet, and good for dessert. I like strawberry”. Your child can guess “ice cream”
  • Talk about opposites like up and down, on and off
  • Work on groups of items, or categories. Find the thing that does not belong in the group. For example: “A shoe does not go with an apple and orange because you can’t eat it! It is not round and it is not a fruit.”
  • Encourage your child to “read” by looking at the pictures and telling the story
  • Help your child follow 2-3 step instructions like “Pick up the ball, put it in the basket, and come sit down”
  • Ask your child to give you directions for how to play a game or build with blocks
  • Play games like “house”. Let him/her be the parent. Talk about different rooms and furniture in the house
  • Talk about what you are reading or watching (TV, movies). Let your child guess what might happen next. Talk about the characters and how they feel. Act out different endings to the story
  • Go grocery shopping together and have your child help remember the list. Talk about what you’re buying, how many you will need, what you will make. Talk about sizes, shapes, and weight

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (2020). Activities to encourage speech and language development.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). CDC’s developmental milestones.

Want to know how a Speech Therapist can Help?

Schedule your infant, child, and teen for an evaluation today and see how a therapist can help your family.
Call (828) 398 0043 or click on the schedule button.

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