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I wanted to give you 10 speech therapy ideas to do at home because you, as the parent, are your child’s best teacher.   I am a play therapist (not an SLP), so I work with many speech-delayed children, in conjunction with their speech-language pathologist (birth-age 3) and these activities work great with them in the home, in between therapy sessions.

These ideas do not replace therapy and should not replace therapy.  These are EXTRA ideas to do when you are home, playing with your child.  I have included my favorite affiliate links in this post to take you straight to my favorite toys and products.

10 speech therapy ideas to do at home

NOTE:   BEFORE YOU DIVE INTO THIS LIST of 10 speech therapy ideas to do at home:
If your child has speech delays, call a local speech pathologist to have your child assessed.  Work on a plan to help your child reach success.  You can find a speech pathologist through your pediatrician or your local Early Intervention Program.

1.  Do Not Have the TV on in the Background. 

The background noise can actually make it harder for a child.  Contrary to what many think, TV in the background does not enhance development.  According to JAMA Pediatrics, “children with frequent television viewing…would have delayed development of meaningful word speech.”

 In one study, American children between ages of 6 and 12 months were exposed to native Chinese speakers in person and to the same native Chinese speakers on video. The infants who had real people interacting with them recognized and responded to specific phonemes, and those exposed to the video did not. What this seems to show is that human interaction appears to be critical in the complex process of language development.

However, when the TV is on, parents tend not to talk as much to their children. And given that babies learn language from live people—particularly their parents!—having the TV on could be detrimental to that process. ~Expert Michael Rich, MD, MPH, director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital Boston.


2.  Teach Sign Language. 

There are studies to show a correlation between sign language and speech.  If nothing else, it stops the huge frustration that children are feeling.

I focus on the biggies: more, mine, help, Mommy, Daddy, please, thank you (please & thank you are added in there just to teach your little one good manners!)   However, instead of simply teaching “more” teach him or her “ball” (or the name of what you are playing with) each time he wants “more ball”. If he’s hungry he could request eat or the specific food. This motivates children more.

Typically when children first begin to talk it’s by requesting the actual item or action such as a ball, milk, blanket, momma, daddy, car, doll. Requesting things they can see will be easier to learn and understand in the beginning. “More” may be over-generalized a

A little boy smiling at the camera. 

3.  Make Printable Magnets for Your Refrigerator.

Add magnets that have his favorite things  (juice, cereal…) and when he wants something, he can bring that to you. (make sure he can’t choke on them.

How to make them:  I use a large flat magnet paper.   I glue a white sheet of card-stock on it and cut it into squares.  I then draw pictures onto them with the things that your child might need: cup, food, bed, favorite toy, etc…  We are trying to ELIMINATE frustration because kids with a speech delay often become frustrated easily.  (wouldn’t you?)


4. Spend 40 Minutes Just Playing with Him. 

Use simple words “Car fast!” or “Red ball”.  To see all of the benefits of playing, check out this post on how & why we need to play with our kids.


5. Work with Simple Flash Cards

I love this touch & feel flashcard set because kids aren’t just auditory or visual learners.    Say the name of the object & have them repeat it.   Labeling is HUGE for a child with a speech delay.  ps- You might want to get a flashcard app for babies or toddlers- they are free).


6. Get a Cotton Ball & Straw

Put the cotton ball down on the table or on the floor.  Now, take a straw & let him blow through it to make a cotton ball move (have the cotton ball on the table). This will help with the oral muscles needed for speech.

(As a therapist following the guidelines of evidence-based practice, it is important to understand that non-speech oral motor exercises (e.g. sucking and blowing through a straw) have not been shown to be completely effective or ineffective.  Their use must be considered experimental. Lof provides a great overview of the existing evidence and the citation is as follows: Lof, G. L., (2009). Nonspeech oral motor exercises: An update on the controversy. ASHA Convention 2009, 1-9.)



7. Drink with a Straw, but Not Just Liquids.  

Change it up a bit and use the straw to drink many different textures (water, milk, applesauce, pureed fruits, milkshakes)…  This will help to strengthen the muscles in their mouth, making speech easier when they are ready.


8. Use silly straws for Drinking

I use these curly/wavy straws.  These are great because they take a little more muscular strength and work than the average straw.


9.  Put Some Things Out of Reach

I do this with something that you know your child will want (a favorite book or favorite toy) and they will have to ask you for help when getting it. Teach them to come and get you and take you (by taking you the hand) to what he/she wants OR by getting you the magnet off of the fridge (did you read that tip above?)  Show your child the sign for help and say “Help” when they are asking you.  You are modeling this behavior for him/her.  Children are more likely to talk when they want something.

10.  Praise Their Efforts

These are just some things that I practice with my speech delayed clients & that I have done with our own children.   Praising your children has a profound effect on their success, because of the increase in self-esteem and self-worth.



**********            Download the WHOLE chart & Print             **********

print here


I have also posted about the different nutrition supplements that have been recommended for speech delays.   Ask your doctor before starting them, but they helped our son.   Our neurologist said that he suggests them for anyone suffering from a developmental delay because nutrition profoundly impacts learning, speech, and development.

FOR MORE INFORMATION on speech delays, please contact your local early intervention office.   You can always start with Play Therapy.

Products that might be helpful:

1- These are sign language, speech & vocab DVD’s

2- Photo language cards.
Bendy Straws
This looks like a phone.  They talk into it and they can hear themselves.  Great for speech therapy (and also reading!)
Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 10.47.57 PM
My Toddler Talks Book

my toddler talks

The Cow Says Moo   Take a look inside the book here.
toddler talk


teaching letters in one week


reading tips for preschoolers


should you wait to send your child to Kindergarten



potty train in 3 days


Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. These are great ideas! I would love to invite you to link up at our Share It Saturday linky party. We have lots of creative ideas submitted each week and you would fit right in!

    We also are inviting all contributors to join us on our Share It Saturday Group Pinterest page as a collaborator. It is a great way to have your posts seen by new viewers! The link for the Pinterest page is on our post. Hope to see you there!

    Colleen at Sugar Aunts

  2. Wonderful ideas! As mama to a 25 weeker that had huge speech delays for various reasons, one of which having a trach for 3.5 years and unable to utter a sound, we focused heavily on sign language. This was a HUGE asset when the trach finally came out. She is now 9 and still relies on sign language, along with voicing. But that was one of the best decsions we ever made!

    1. I’m so glad she’s doing well now. Signing is so great for helping children with speech delays.

  3. I recommend contacting your local early intervention agency. The evaluation is FREE and all states have the program. Most pediatricians don’t use screening tools and often take the “let’s wait and see” approach. In the meantime, there are plenty of books out there that are parent-friendly, including The Cow Says Moo Ten Tips to Teach Toddlers to Talk (McErlean), Let’s Talk Together (Poland), and My Toddler Talks (Scanloon) are a few. Try; they have everything.

    1. 🙂 I work through Early Intervention, as well. 🙂 I completely agree!

    2. Any ideas on how to get them to actually respond or do anything to help? We’re a one income family and after having my eldest evaluated when he was 18 months and still not using a sign word (not even Mommy or Daddy) but signing perfectly I was told it was my fault for teaching him ASL and that it was not actually a delay so they had nothing to do with helping me. Now at a month shy of 3yrs he has a 50 word vocabulary and still struggles and cries because he cannot get his point across to adults or other kids. He’s extremely bright, can figure out basic math problems, count, and has had his hearing checked at two different testing centers but out Child Development Services still claim it is not their problem to get him any sort of help. Since we’re on state medical insurance they are our only option for assitance and so far have told us if he still is having a problem by school age they might see fit to help by then.

      1. I would keep working with him and actually move his mouth yourself when you are telling him to say words. Does he babble (make sounds?)
        I would wait to start speech therapy until 20 months & then call Child Dev. Serv. again. They often will not refer a child for play therapy or speech therapy until 20 months. (I start to see most of my clients between 20 months & 24 months, I’d say … and then I work with them until they are three and they are transferred to the school system.)

        1. Hi. Can you believe that in Germany (and other countries in Europe as well) they don’t evaluate children until they are 5-year-old? They don’t have developmental pediatricians here or licensed speech therapists. Any kind of assessment is done by regular pediatrician. Their motto is every child develops differently and starts speaking at different age. They disagree with providing any kind of therapy for children who are younger than 5. ASD and PDD are not popular here or I should rather say people (parents) do not speak much about it. If their child doesn’t walk until 3-year-old or doesn’t interact with you until he/she is 3-year-old, it’s okay, they don’t see any problem with this because their pediatrician said so. I have ten years of professional experience from US so what’s happening in Europe for me it’s unacceptable and a big disappointment.

  4. I am a PhD speech-language pathologist with 10 years of clinical and research experience. I strongly encourage families who have children with communication delays to pursue an evaluation by a licensed speech-language pathologist. Early intervention is incredibly important and an actual communication professional can recommend targeted strategies for your unique child. Communication is the foundation of literacy and academic skills, and speech-language pathologists can get your child on the right track!

    1. I am also a speech therapist, and completely agree with the above post. A thorough history, coupled with a comprehensive assessment by a qualified, credentialed professional are essential. The earlier, the better.

    2. My 4 year granddaughter can’t pronounced later c, s, z, q…..I think she has articulation problems

    3. My granddaughter is 2 yrs 5 mon old. She will repeat what you say to her. If you say “do you need to poop”? She will say “do you poop”? she will not answer a question only repeat the question. Is this normal. Her doctor says she is a little behind in speech skills.

  5. Hi there! I came across this site while looking up information on my son’s speech delay (due to hypotonia). I bought the Balanced Essentials liquid multivitamin and was curious as to how much your neurologist recommended giving him? He’s 30 months.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. He told us one ounce was a safe dose (as they state on the package), but I always fill it to the first line in the cap- its exactly one teaspoon.
      Hope that helped!

      1. What age is that the dose for? A two or three year old? My son is 17 months and I know our pediatrician won’t like the idea of giving adult vitamins to him, so I’d like more of a point of reference to start the conversation.

        1. I would talk to your doctor. This was for our toddler, but every child is different. Our doctor said that Animal Parade (for kids) was another great, natural option. I’d bring up both to your doctor. 🙂

    2. My son is 3 and had a vocabulary of 20 words 3 weeks ago. I started him on Balanced Essentials and in 10 days he was starting to say words he never had before. He continues each day to add multiple words to his vocabulary and already speaks more words than I can count. It is absolutely remarkable. He has speech apraxia, hypotonia, and limbic system problems (neurological). Why are Dr’s not prescribing this stuff??? It is nothing short of miraculous!

      1. That’s amazing!! I know – our pediatricians had never even heard of it when I took it to them to double check it before we started. We ended up giving it to all 4 of our kids.

      2. Where i can get that ??? My son is 4 strouling with speech …. We r talking 2 language he isnt fulent in mother tounge or english

  6. Wonderful page and ideas!

    A little of our story. My son is 10 years old today. But he was born premie, and had Global Delays from the start. I started ASL with him around 1 year old and it was a life saver! We only did basics, and added things as needed or that he was interested in as time passed. But at one point, when he was 2 1/2-3, he said the words, “water” and “doggy” the same way; he said “goggy” for both of these. So if he didn’t sign “water” to me, I would have had a heck of a time knowing he wanted a DRINK, and wasn’t telling me about a doggy!

    Today, at 10, most of his development is that of a 2 year old. He has plenty of vocabulary; enough to get his needs met, thankfully. But we are currently working with a program that will be able to get us a communication assistive device. It may take some time, but it will be covered by insurance, so it will be well worth it!

  7. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for these suggestions! My 20 month old son has a moderate expressive speech delay and we cannot currently afford treatment… it is so difficult to find things online that I can do to help him while we wait for the public service! These all sound great!

  8. Great ideas! Thank you and we’d be looking forward to more help on children with speech delay…

  9. I am a Master’s student in speech language pathology and am learning from the most current research.
    If anyone has or knows a child with a speech/language delay, it is recommended that they see a licensed speech-language pathologist. Some SLPs specialize in early intervention (children ages 0-3) and will know how to best assess and treat communication delays.

  10. Can you recommend some activities for kids older than 3? My son is 5. I think some of these tips are great, but he already did most of them. He has an IEP at school and I can see his progress is very slow.

    1. I would have him look in a mirror and practice his sounds. It was like a lightbulb went off for our son! Do it every day and go through ALL of the sounds:



  11. Wonderful ideas.. These advice were very helpful especially to those people who cant afford paying expensive speech theraphy in private school.

  12. My son is 2 and he has speech therapy. He eats anything you give him, not a picky eater but would giving him the balanced essentials help him? I will ask his pediatrician also at his next appointment but just wanted to ask here. Thanks!

  13. Nice to see.I totally agree with you…Noted.thank you so much 🙂