Ideas for Play Routines in Early Intervention

smiling woman clapping hands playing with smiling baby

Sometimes getting a toddler to say words can be tricky! They have the final say (pun intended!) on whether they will cooperate with your attempts to get them to talk. Having playful interactions is one way to form a relationship and get the ball rolling. Here is a list of some playful routines that may encourage your young child to try to use sounds or words. At first, introduce these sounds and words without requiring your child to say them too. The key is to be playful and interactive because happy toddlers learn better than grumpy toddlers! After you have established the routines, you can pause to see if your child will try to say any of them as you play.

-Bust a Rock: pow, boom, pshhh

-High Five: owie, ouch, whoa

-Ideas for kitchen play:

  • Clank cups together: cheers!
  • Pretend to eat play food: yum, mmmm or yuck, ack, acky……
  • Pretend to drink: hot, slurping sounds, Ahhh!

-Wave scarf: round, round, round…STOP!

-Call family members to come to eat: eat, supper, come on…

-Any little made up ditty, song or rhyme: Time for a bath, time for a bath, hi ho the dairy oh, it’s time for a _____.

-Push cars on a table and then off the edge: Whoa, whoa, whoa…CRASH!

-March around the room: Boom, boom, boom or march, march, march…

-Make balls of playdoh, then smash them: boom, pow, pop, bam…or any other sound that your child thinks is funny.

-Put toys on head: call it a hat, sneeze it off of your head, AhAhAh…chooo!

The next two great ideas from a couple of our families in the EI program:

-When they come up to a bridge on a road trip they say, Look, a bridge… Watch out!… Don’t hit your head… DUCK!… Ouch!!

-Each time you buckle the car seat say, Say, “Got it!” when you hear the buckle click. After establishing this as a routine, wait for the click, then look expectantly at your child to say, “Got it!

The routines listed are just suggestions; use whatever sound/word your child responds to. Some are routines that our EI families have used as they play with their child. Most families already have their own fun play routines that they incorporate without even thinking about it. Remember that a child learns so much through play and you are your child’s best teacher!

Submitted by:

Alison Berning, MS, CCC-SP

Licensed Speech Therapist, Early Intervention