*Updated August 2021*
There are many wonderful toys that will help your child’s language development, but the best toy for a 3 year old with a language delay (or any child) is one that is:
♥ Open ended to allow for a variety of language learning opportunities
♥ Does not require batteries for optimal functioning
♥ Can be used by the child for the next 3-5 years
♥ Great for pretend play and imagination
♥ Perfect for both a boy or a girl
What Is The Best Toy For A 3 Year Old With A Language Delay?
*This article contains affiliate links*
It’s a Kids Kitchen Set!
If you have read some of my articles here at Seeme & Liz, you are probably quite familiar with my love of play kitchens! And with good reason.
If you haven’t, be sure to take a look at these 2 articles:
A 3 year old with a language delay is typically using single words to label objects, or perhaps even short 2-3 word phrases.
The goal is to get the child speaking in complete sentences as well as asking and answering questions.
Children also start to understand and use pronouns such as he and she around the age of 3.
Here is a brief list of language skills the average 3 year old should have*:
♥ Recognizes 3+ colors
♥ Uses regular plurals (-s at end of word)
♥ Retell a short story using about 4-5 sentences
♥ Uses pronouns such as “I, we, me, you, they”, “he/she” starts emerging as well
♥ Understands and uses prepositions such as “in, out, on, off, under”
♥ Recognizes basic shapes such as circle, square, triangle
♥ Sentences are starting to sound more adult like and usually are 4+ words long. However, some grammatical errors are still to be expected.
*Note: If your child is not where you feel he should be based on the above milestones, it is better to have an evaluation done by a Speech-Language Pathologist than to wait and hope he catches up!
What’s So Special About A Pretend Play Kitchen?
A kitchen set will allow you to play with your child while working on all of the skills I mentioned above in a natural play based environment.
A kids kitchen is great for building some language strengthening routines.
For example, if your child is already speaking in short phrases and the goal is to get them to answer questions, start the kitchen play with a question.
You could ask your child, “what can I have to eat today?” If your child is really struggling to answer the question choose 3-5 pieces of pretend play food and lay them out.
Have your child choose food from the smaller group when you ask the question.
If they hand you an apple without using words, they have still answered the question.
However make sure that you follow up by saying something like “Thank you, I like to eat apples”.
Remember to try to keep the interactions as natural as possible.
The next part of the routine could be setting the table (or a blanket on the floor). Ask your child “where should the plates go?”
They may take the plates and put them down, so try having them out of reach and see if your child will use words to answer the question.
For example, they could say “on the table” or “on the blanket”.
The point is, try following a similar routine each time you play at the kitchen with your child in order to work on a specific language goal.
If the goal is to expand your child’s ability to pretend play, model some things you could do in the kitchen.
You could take a cup and pretend to pour some water into it. Then say something like “I’m so thirsty, this water is great”. Then pause and see if your child will imitate or come up with something on her own.
One thing I do recommend is to make sure you have accessories for the kitchen such as play food, dishes, pots/pans, cutlery etc.
With these you will be able to extend the play and opportunities for language development.
Make sure to give your child plenty of time to play freely at the pretend kitchen.
It does not always need to be “learning time” as children learn many new skills during unstructured play.
If you already have a play kitchen but would like some more toys that will promote speech and language development please read Best Learning Toys For 3 Year Old’s To Encourage Language Development
And remember, if your child is receiving speech-language therapy, follow the guidance of your child’s therapist!
If you read something here, or anywhere else online that you would like to try with your child talk to their therapist to see if it is appropriate.
I hope you agree with me that the best toy for a 3 year old with language delays (or without, it’s really a great toy for any child) is a kids kitchen set!