We love our kids and Valentines Day just gives us an excuse to show that with chocolate hearts and all things pink and red. So just in time for the holiday, we have some suggestions for you and your child to have fun, loving and language building activities.
The activities below are fun, motivating and usually involve sweets (yum!). Celebrate Valentines Day with a variety of speech and language therapy techniques that are easy to incorporate into your traditions, or build new ones!
1. Valentine’s Sensory Bin:
Foam or felt shaped hearts, pink heart confetti, heart hair clips, real rose buds, pink bows and feathers, and a few chocolate treats buried in a bowl of white rice. Then add any filler and any objects – toys, spoons, strainers, plastic eggs, rakes.
Use the sensory bins for toddlers to help improve their joint attention (playing with me, making eye contact), imitating actions (scooping, shaking, etc), practicing simple verbs (open, close, gimme, take) and vocabulary (heart, spoon, more).
There are some great Valentines Day sensory bin ideas here >
2. Making Cookies for Following Directions
The best holidays involve sweets in some way. For Valentines day you may have thought about making cookies but you might not have thought about making it a language game. Cooking or baking is a great way to help your toddler with improving their listening skills because your child might not already know the steps on their own.
You can set up all the ingredients and give simple, concrete directions for how to do each step. You can try these types of directions depending on how well your child can follow more or less complicated directions:
1 Step Directions:
- give me the egg
- mix the milk
- put the sugar in
2 Step Directions:
- give me the bowl and then get a towel
- first put the sugar in then mix it
3 Step Directions:
- wash your hands, get the bowl, and come to the table
- put in the flower, then mix it, and give me the spoon
More Complex Directions:
- before you pour the milk, put in an egg (child needs to understand the word "before"means pour the milk second even though it's named first)
If your child has trouble, give them a visual cue by showing them with a gesture or give them the item you asked. Incorporate new words and descriptions like “whisk” and “beat” or “fast” and “a long time.” This is a great task not only for bonding with your child but for building vocabulary and listening skills.
3. Reading Valentines Books
Reading books is always a good idea. They are a great way to incorporate new vocabulary and build your child's language and understanding of traditions or routines!
Where is Baby’s Valentine? We love this book for babies and toddlers who need to work on their speech or language skills. Baby has lost her Valentine’s Day card and you can help her find it! This book is great for working on everyday, common vocabulary (e.g., things around your home), yes/no questions, simple WH-questions (what, where, who) and also prepositions (e.g., “Is it under the table?” or “Show me what is on the table.” or “What is next to the table?”, etc).
Llama Llama I love you Who doesn't love a llama on Valentines Day!?! This book is good for simple sequencing of events (the steps to making the cards, giving the cards, sending the cards, etc), for verbs or action vocabulary (e.g., cutting, glueing, walking, etc), simple WH-questions and yes/no questions. There are also some rhyming words in this book (though your toddler or preschooler is still a little young for pre-reading and phonemic awareness skills, it’s still beneficial to read books with a variety of concepts).
At Speech Therapy that Works we know that a parent is a child's first and best teacher. We want to encourage parents to be their child's speech therapist at home during play as well as everyday activities. This is at the heart of our Parent Coaching Program. You can find out more about parent coaching for toddlers here and schedule your free consultation with a speech therapist here.