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Exploring the Power of Play: How Different Types of Play Enhance Speech and Language Skills


One of my favorite things about my job is that I get to play and call it work.  Well, actually, there is a reason (other than having fun) that I use so many toys and games during my speech-language sessions.  Children love to play!  When a child is motivated by an activity, book, toy, or game, they are much more engaged which makes learning new skills more effective (and fun!).  Play allows children to learn their speech and language skills in a meaningful and natural way.  In fact, play-based learning is research-based.  


Let’s look at 5 types of play to help enhance speech and language skills:


  • Explorative Play:  Children use explorative play to explore objects and toys with their senses.  Examples may include:  a baby putting items to their mouth, finding items in a sensory box, and banging items together.

  • Functional Play:  Children use functional play to figure out how common objects or toys work and are used.  Examples may include: rolling a ball or putting coins in a piggy bank.

  • Constructive Play:  Children use constructive play to build or create things with objects.  Examples may include:  art projects and Legos.  

  • Game Play with Rules:  During this type of play, children learn how to follow rules and routine during more structured play.  

  • Symbolic, Dramatic, and Pretend Play:  During this type of play, children are acting out or role-playing activities done in everyday life.  Examples may include:  taking care of a baby doll, using a toy kitchen, and dressing up like an astronaut.  


I hope you and your child have fun playing and exploring toys each week!   Each month I will present a “Toy of the Month” and provide ideas and activities for using these toys to further promote speech and language skill development.  

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