Top 10 Melissa & Doug Toys For Toddlers Learning & Language Development

Melissa & Doug toys for toddlers are some of the best out there when it comes to language development and learning.

I personally used these toys with my own children when they were young. Melissa and Doug toys were also guaranteed to be in my Speech Pathologist toolbox back when I was still practicing.

Please note, I am not being compensated by Melissa & Doug to promote these toys – I simply love them for toddler language development!

These toys are well thought out with the goal of learning through play being at the forefront!

If you are looking for affordable, well made educational toys for toddlers then you have come to the right place.

These toys are not listed in any particular order.

Be sure to find out how each toy can be used to strengthen your toddler’s vocabulary, language development and learning!

Top 10 Melissa & Doug Toys For Toddler Language Development

*This article may contain affiliate links*

Wooden Latches Barn

I love this barn because children can learn so many new skills all while playing.

At first, it may be difficult for a toddler to successfully and independently open the doors of the barn.

But as their fine motor skills strengthen through practice, opening the doors will become a breeze!

Below are just a few language/vocabulary skills your child will practice through play with this wooden barn play set:

♦ Recognizing and naming animals (a cow, horse, pig and goat come with the barn)
♦ Color recognition
♦ Animal sounds
♦ Counting
♦ Prepositions (in, out, on, off, up, down)
♦ Sentence building

If you would like even more ideas for using a farm playset to build language click here.

Melissa and Doug Wooden Latches Barnget best price button

Catch & Count Wooden Fishing Game

Unfortunately the reviews for this toy are somewhat mixed.

But I have seen it and used it and disagree with most of them.

Most complaints have to do with this game being “boring”.

If you want a toy with flashy lights and sounds then of course this one might not seem very entertaining.

But the toy itself is not meant to entertain.

The only negative reviews I would agree with is that the spinner isn’t the greatest.

Honestly, I never used it. Have you ever tried to get a toddler to spin a spinner, even one that works? It’s not that easy.

What I did instead was write the numbers 1-5 on cardstock and cut them out.

Then I placed them in a bag and let the child pick a number.

Then ask your child to “catch” the fish with the matching number (there are 2 of each).

Here are some ways you can use this toy for language development and learning:

♦ Fine motor skills – this is worked on naturally when your child is trying to wind the string.
♦ Turn taking – use language such as “my turn”, “your turn”
♦ Counting – there are 10 fish in total but they are labeled 1-5.
♦ Matching numbers
♦ Color recognition – ask your child to catch the “red” fish and you can catch the “blue” fish, for example.

Melissa and Doug Catch & Count Wooden Fishing Gameget best price button

Jumbo Extra-Thick Cardboard Building Blocks

My kids loved these blocks.

One word of caution before I get into any more detail, they do take up room.

I thought they might be easy to disassemble, but you won’t want to do that on a regular basis.

The set comes with 40 blocks in 3 different sizes.

These blocks are really sturdy. My kids built a balance beam and I was able to stand on it!

Kids love how big these are and that makes knocking a tower over so much more fun!

Skills your child can develop with these blocks include:

♦ Gross motor – watch as your child builds a wall and then jumps over it
♦ Math concepts – 2 blue blocks pushed together are the same size as one red block
♦ Basic concepts – big, little
♦ Colors – red, blue, yellow
♦ Prepositions – on, off, over, under
♦ Combining words – big block, little block, red block, etc.

Regular blocks such as the Melissa and Doug Wooden Building Block Set are a good option if space is limited.

To find out all of the learning opportunities that arise with a block set click here.

Melissa and Doug Jumbo Extra-Thick Cardboard Building Blocksget best price button

Service Station Parking Garage

Vehicle playsets are a wonderful toy for learning through play.

This service station/parking garage is nice and compact making it perfect for toddlers.

Here are just a few skills your child can learn:

♦ Vocabulary – car wash, roller, gas pump, garage, elevator, gate
♦ Prepositions and concepts – up, down, top, bottom, open, close, in, out
♦ Fine motor skills (small gas pump fits into cars)
♦ Hand eye coordination
♦ Pretend play – the cars were driving through the mud and now they are dirty and need a car wash, someone has to go to the grocery store and park the car in the parkade, etc.

Melissa and Doug Service Station Parking Garageget best price button

Let’s Play House Dust! Sweep! Mop! 6-Piece Pretend Play Set

I know as adults, most of us hate chores.

But toddlers love to “help” around the house.

This cleaning set is sure to be a hit with 2-3 year olds.  In fact, I’m pretty sure a 4 or 5 year old would still have fun with this toy!

It looks just like the real thing, but made for little hands and bodies.

This set is great for pretend play, hand eye coordination, vocabulary and so much more!

Everything in this set functions like the real thing, except for the mop.  Don’t get that wet.
Melissa and Doug Let's Play House Dust! Sweep! Mop! 6-Piece Pretend Play Setget best price button

Food Groups – 21 Hand-Painted Wooden Pieces and 4 Crates

This set is a must have for all kids.

It’s perfect for toddlers but preschoolers and even young school aged children will still love this set.

It goes perfectly with a kids pretend play kitchen but also works well on its own if you don’t have one.

Find out about the many ways your child can learn with a kids play kitchen set here!

Here are some skills your child can hone in on with this wooden play food set:

♦ Vocabulary – label all food items in the baskets while your child is playing
♦ Categorization – this activity would be more suited for a child 3+. Start by sorting 2 groups, for example fruits/vegetables vs meat. Or sort by color!
♦ Color recognition
♦ Counting – count the number of food items in each basket
♦ Prepositions such as in, out, under
♦ Pretend Play – pretend to go grocery shopping or set up a “market”

Melissa and Doug Food Groups - 21 Hand-Painted Wooden Pieces and 4 Cratesget best price button

Wooden Cutting Food Play Set

Melissa and Doug have several food cutting sets and they are all great!

This particular set comes with a child safe wooden “knife”, an apple, pepper, cucumber, tomato, sandwich bread, carrot, slice of watermelon and a loaf of bread.

The food items are held together with velcro and children can “cut” them apart.

I loved these sets for my own kids and in my speech therapy sessions!

Kids can practice everything from fine motor skills to sentence building and sequencing so they are perfect for kids ages 2+.

Take a look at some of the learning opportunities that will arise with a food cutting play set:

♦ Fine motor skills – grasping knife to cut
♦ Hand eye coordination – placing knife carefully in the food pieces to “cut” them
♦ Vocabulary – label each item
♦ Counting – count the number of pieces the food has been cut into
♦ Math concepts – parts of a whole, fractions (whole, half, etc.)
♦ Sentence building – if your child is only using single words practice short phrases like “I cut” or “I cut bread, apple, carrot, etc.”

Melissa and Doug Wooden Cutting Food Play Setget best price button

Wooden Chunky Puzzles Set – Farm and Pets

These puzzles were always in my speech therapist toolbox and in my kids’ toy box.

I love these puzzles so much that I featured them in 2 other articles I wrote.

You can read more about these puzzles in the article “The Best Learning Toys for Toddlers”  and “Preschool Learning Puzzles

That’s why I won’t go into details here as to why these puzzles are so wonderful for learning.

Melissa and Doug has many others as well.

You can take a look at them here.

Melissa and Doug Wooden Chunky Puzzles Set - Farm and Petsget best price button

Monster Plush 6-Pin Bowling Game

What 2 year old doesn’t love bowling?

These monster bowling pins are soft and cuddly and perfect for learning through play.

Have fun naming each monster with your child while describing what makes them cute and funny (and definitely not scary).

Here are a few ways you can use this bowling set with your child while focusing on natural learning opportunities:

♦ Vocabulary – include the words “my turn, your turn, knock down, pick up, ball, roll and try again” while playing.
♦ Describe the monsters with words like: green, blue, yellow, smooth, bumpy, pointy, soft, stripes,etc.
♦ Body part naming – mouth, teeth, ears, nose, eyes
♦ Counting – count the monsters and count their eyes
♦ Social skills – turn taking
♦ Hand eye coordination – rolling the ball and aiming
♦ Fine and gross motor skills – helps with dexterity and balance

Melissa and Doug Monster Plush 6-Pin Bowling Gameget best price button

Cook’s Corner Wooden Pretend Play Toy Kitchen

A play kitchen is my #1 recommended toy for speech and language development and general learning through play.

That is why I have included this one on my Top 10 list of Melissa and Doug toys for toddlers that promote language development.

Here are 10 reasons why a kids kitchen is and always will be my go to toy when I am asked about the best toys for children.

The Melissa and Doug Kitchen is recommended for children ages 3-5, however it is small and can easily be used by children 18 months and older.

It will take a bit of time to set up as well as it does not come assembled.

Melissa and Doug Cook’s Corner Wooden Pretend Play Toy Kitchenget best price button

Simple Toys For Hours of Fun and Learning

If you are not an Amazon fan, check out the great Melissa & Doug toy selection at Fat Brain Toys!

You may have noticed that the Melissa & Doug toys for toddlers I featured above don’t require any batteries.

There are no flashing lights and annoying sounds and songs.

But this is a good thing.

Simple toys like these allow for more imagination, talking and learning than their electronic counterparts.

Don’t believe me, read this!

Toddler playing with stuffed bear with text overlay
Toys on floor with text overlay
Toy room with text overlay
Melissa & Doug Toys For Toddlers: Top 10 For Language Development
Article Name
Melissa & Doug Toys For Toddlers: Top 10 For Language Development
Melissa & Doug toys for toddlers are some of the best out there when it comes to language development and learning. Here are the Top 10 to help with your child's language development! Click to learn how to best use each toy for optimal learning outcomes.
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Seeme & Liz


  1. Judy

    What a bright and happy site with some wonderful toys to help develop our youngsters. I am a grandma and a great ma so I am always looking for good ideas for the grand kids. You have found some beauties here. My favorite was the gorgeous characters in the 6 pin bowling game. I also really liked your idea for a spinner in the fishing game. That same idea could be used for many different games where a spinner is required. It is refreshing to see toys that do not rely on batteries or computer gizmos to be enjoyed.
    A lovely site and one I will come back to when I next need a gift for a young grand child. Thank you for your appraisal of each of the items, it is very helpful in choosing which one to purchase.

    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Judy,

      Thanks so much for your comment!  

      Kids love the monster bowling game.  It makes monsters seem like a fun and cuddly bunch!

      I have used my “numbers in a bag” idea often for games that require spinners, as most young children cannot figure out how to successfully spin a spinner.

      On my site you will never, or very rarely find a toy that requires batteries for optimal functioning!

  2. Stella

    Hello Tanya;

    This is a very comprehensive list of toys to choose from for the purpose of language development and learning.

    I find it interesting because I used to work as a literacy teacher, but also because my son is currently training to be an ECE (Early Childhood Educator).

    I’m definitely going to pass this on to him to view. I’m sure there are things here that would interest him.

    Also, I liked how you improvised with the spinner by using numbers on paper instead. Cool idea.


    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Stella,

      I appreciate you sharing the article with your son.  Hopefully he will find it valuable!

      Children learn best through play!  This goes for language development as well.  But when it comes to toys the simpler they are the better.  It is best to avoid the flashy (and annoying) toys that require batteries and claim to teach a toddler letters, numbers, colors, etc.

  3. Khoula Elmasri

    Hi there,

    I just came across your article and loved it!  My son loves Melissa and Doug toys.  But I had no idea how educational and helpful for language development they could be.  This is great!   Again, thanks for these wonderful ideas. 

    I will totally be visiting your site more often to get more ideas and information.

    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Khoula,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article!  Melissa and Doug toys are wonderful because of their simplicity.  They are the perfect toys for pretend play and of course language development.

      Many of the the tips I shared in this article can be applied to toys by other toy companies as well.  

  4. Anonymous

    These are very nice toys for toddlers. I really like how you showed how helpful they can be for toddler development. I love the large Cardboard Building Blocks because kids learn so many new skills while playing.

    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Yes, they really are! Melissa and Doug have great toys for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and even school aged children! The cardboard building blocks are a favorite of mine assuming you have the space to store them. My kids had hours of fun with them!

  5. Mara Lane

    My children always want to help me clean! The 6 piece cleaning set is so cool and cute. I think they would love it so much. They can also learn from it, that is a double plus. The wooden animal puzzles look great too. I know they will have tons of fun learning animal names. Thank you very much for these great toy ideas. I will be adding these to the toy room.

    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Children really love helping around the house when they are too young to understand “chores”. So a play cleaning set makes a great learning toy for toddlers.

      Puzzles are also important. I actually wrote an entire article about the many ways preschool puzzles can be used for natural learning opportunities. Click here to read that article.

  6. Justina Wolfe

    I always love to read your articles. You have so many awesome ideas!
    I personally don’t have much experience with the toys you mentioned but a while ago we were at our friends and they had the broom and mop set and my oldest son loved it! A little too much maybe because he spilled a glass of water just so he could mop it up! And I can imagine he would love the kitchen stuff. He’s not much of a farmer, more into wild animals and then he loves to help me in the kitchen!
    You gave me some great birthday ideas for him. Thank you

    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thanks Justina!
      It’s funny how kids love “cleaning” and “helping” around the house when they are little.   It’s such a wonderful way for them to learn new skills and vocabulary in a natural way.

      Anything related to a pretend play kitchen is always on my recommended list of must have toys for toddlers, preschoolers and even school aged children!  

      I’m sure your son would love to receive any of these toys for his birthday.

  7. Margaret Welwood

    This is amazing! I go to our ParentLink Centre regularly and borrow toys from their toy library (the largest in Northern Alberta). They have quite a selection of Melissa & Doug toys, and I don’t remember seeing any of these! By the way, one that E (just turned three years old) likes is a damaged car puzzle with a tow truck that picks up the cars with a magnet.

    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Margaret,

      That is great to hear! I know the puzzle you are talking about. I actually almost included it on my list but was trying really hard to keep the number to 10. In reality there are many other Melissa and Doug toys for toddlers that are excellent for language development and learning through play.


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