Children learn by doing. Your child may have dragged you down the toy aisle at Target recently. You were both bombarded by toys with sounds, lights, music, buttons, and the dreaded screen. When you purchase these types of toys, the toy does all the work. This means your child is not building any of their skills. They are not doing; the toy is doing. Start building your child’s toy collection with these must-have toys, and you will be well on your way to supporting the development of critical early language and play skills.

Reading is essential for all children, but a good collection of books for preschoolers is particularly vital. Children can build early literacy skills that directly correlate with later academic success when reading books. Books that have simple sentences, a simple story line, and include rhyme, rhythm, and repetition are the best. Dr. Seuss is one of my favorites!



This toy provides ample benefits, including encouraging fine & gross motor skills (grasping), visual scanning (searching for a part), spatial awareness, naming body parts, labeling colors, and matching objects, just to name a few. I like larger sets with multiple Mr. Potato Heads and many parts. This provides lots of opportunity to make requests and share with siblings or friends.

Taking turns and sharing are two foundations of communication that children should be exposed to early on. Early cooperative games are perfect for building social language skills, vocabulary, and matching skills. Don’t shy away from more structured cooperative games for older toddlers & preschoolers. You just may be surprised at how well your child can follow directions, take turns, and put their negotiation skills to use when playing these games.



Research shows that Legos are one of the best toys for play and language building, because they can be used in so many different ways. Children have to interact with their peers and parents as they plan and negotiate what they want to build. Blocks are also great for building fine motor and spatial awareness skills.

Get those toys out and start to play with your kids. Read more about selecting toys here.

Need help selecting toys for a specific skill?

Start Playing With Purpose

Learn how to purposefully and intentionally interact with your child during play and help them increase opportunities for speech and language development with our Playing with Purpose book!

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