Sorry for the hiatus folks – Christmas and New Year happened and were swiftly followed by computer software related issues which made all my photos unavailable to me…looks like we are back on track!
Anyway – months ago, I said I would blog about some of the language opportunities offered by N’s pared down toy selection. I have since rotated some of the toys, but I will post about the original toys we put out to begin with.
I must clarify that if N is playing happily by himself (something I do wish happened a little more frequently), I leave him to it and let him explore the toys independently. But he does like me to play with him, and when I do, I try to make use of the resources we have to build his language skills.
So, after the toy purge, N was left with a basket of books, and the following:
- A toy kitchen – I think this deserves its own post…the language opportunities are endless!
- A wooden truck with magnetic bricks
- A set of stacking rings and a set of stacking cups
- A Noah’s ark toy with animal cut outs
- A tub of wooden blocks
- A shape sorter cow toy
- Pop up men
These are just some of my ideas of how these toys could be used:
– Wooden truck with magnetic bricks: the crane on this toy moves up and down, which is a lovely opportunity to introduce this vocabulary with lots of repetition. The bricks are a variety of colours and shapes, and whilst I wouldn’t expect an 18 month old to know these yet, I still take the opportunity to label each shape/colour for him as he picks it up. It also has a string to pull it along which gives us a chance to practice action words: “Wow, you’re pulling the truck”.
– Stacking rings and cups: most obviously, good to practice the vocabulary on and off as well as talking about the colours and whether the rings/cups are big or small. But we also talk about what he is doing with these toys, and it gives me a chance to use simple verbs like “building” or “stacking.”
-Noah’s ark – lots of lovely animal names to be learnt with this toy, alongside good opportunities to practice prepositional vocabulary. We talk about putting the animals in and then tipping them out. This ark comes with a sweet little ramp so we can walk the animals up and down too. You might like Naomi’s blog post about animal noises.
– A tub of wooden blocks – great for prepositional vocabulary again. We can build things up and knock them down, and talk about whether we are making a tall tower or a small one. Also, colours and shapes come into play here, as well as some basic vocabulary related to what we are building. N has definitely learnt the word “tower” from our building sessions.
– Shape sorter cow – this is such a classic toy and N has loved playing with it since he was 9 months old. At first he just opened the lid and put all the shapes inside (so I did a lot of repetition of the words open and closed, but now he is really learning what goes where. I am fairly sure he has learnt the words circle, square and triangle from many hours spent with this one toy. As with lots of the other toys, this one also offers opportunities to practice colours and in and out.
– Pop up men. Ahhh. These little men. Possibly the greatest toy invented and so very well used and loved. Once again, we can talk about things going in and out and colours, but perhaps the best lesson we learnt from this toy was cause and effect. When N was younger I would play ready, steady, go with him, holding down the men and waiting for a signal from him to pop them up. At first he would just look at me, but as he has developed he has moved from looking, to flapping excitedly, to pointing to finally saying ‘go!’ himself. Now he will sit alone with the toy and say ‘ready steady go’ as he pops up each one.
So – there may not be a huge variety of toys here, and certainly none of these toys are the all singing, dancing, flashing sensory toys you can get these days, but they provide a huge range of opportunities for shared play and language development.
Next time you sit down to play with your little one, have a think about how you might be able to use that toy to support their language and communication. The opportunities are everywhere!