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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. I have a son who is 5 years now, and has a speech problem…. I have notice that he is constantly smelling things and starts clapping when he is excited, I dont know if he still can’t control his emotions or it has to do with something else… Sometime he gets excited he over does it, Pathologist said that he doesn’t have autism or symptoms of autism, but this episodes keep coming back he is going to Kindergarten And I’m a little scare… Should I consult with a Doctor or continue with his school pathologist??

  2. My brother had a lot of trouble with speech impediments when he was younger, but I will definitely keep these tips in mind for my future kids. Thanks for sharing the tips.

  3. I never thought about teaching them sign language! That is something that we will have to try with our child. He has been having a lot of issues with his speech so we have been thinking about taking him to a speech therapist. We will have to keep these tips in mind, thank you for sharing!

  4. I really like the idea to teach sign language to a child who struggles with a speech delay. My nephew has recently been struggling with a speech delay and we are all a little concerned. I definitely think that we should find a professional that could help to make sure that everything develops properly.

  5. I am very interested in the phone thing that lets the child hear himself, but the link takes me to the picture cards every time!

  6. I didn’t know that kids who watch television more have delayed development of speech. My daughter has a really hard time with certain sounds, and she’s starting first grade in a few months. Maybe I should scale back her television time and enroll her in pediatric speech therapy so she can learn to speak before she goes to school.

    1. We have the same issue with our daughter. I put TV on almost 6 – 9 hours a day and leave her with a nanny. I really regret for what I have done. Now, I make 1-2 hours/day (divided 3 times a day). I take her to daycare 3 times a week. So, we will develop better for her communication skill with her friends rather than I force her to go to therapist that she had before and made unbalance her emotional.

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

  8. Great ideas. Parents are in the best position to help children work on speech and language at home and should be supported as much as possible.

    If anyone would like free ideas and materials to work on speech sounds at home they are welcome to check out my site. You are also welcome to ask me any questions you might have about speech or language development.

  9. My daughter is 2 yrs 3 months old. She understands but doesn’t speak. if she wants water she gives us bottle .

    What can i do for her speech.

    1. I would contact a speech therapist (you can go through the local early intervention program for your state).
      Keep working on it. 🙂 Good luck!

  10. Thank you for putting this out there. I agree with your opinion and I hope more people would come to agree with this as well.

  11. Hi. My son is 5 years and though he knows name of things, he doesn’t use them to communicate. If you ask him, what is this, he will say water, but he won’t ask for water when he needs it but rather drag you there for help. We are in Nigeria and I am trying to find out how I can help him at home because we can’t get a speech language pathologist for him now due to funding.

    1. I would really encourage him to say what he wants, even when he drags you there. Just say something like, “Milk? You want milk? Say milk.” and try to encourage it.