Author: Joanne Teo Sharon Powell

Language Fun in the Sun

Language Fun in the Sun

Happy 2019! While we count down to the last few weeks of the school holidays, how about some water play to cool ourselves in the sunny Australian weather?

It is easy to add more language into water play activities. If you have toddlers or preschool children, here are some ideas to incorporate interesting language while you are out and about doing summer water play activities:

At the beach – in the waves and on the shore

When your child is building sand castles, you might start a conversation by talking about what your little one is doing. Below is an example to introduce words such as sand castle and shovel:

Adult: Oh, you’re building sand castles!

Child: Yeah, I’m going to make a big one. I’m going to use this.

Adult: Oh, you’re going to make a big sand castle! Are you using a shovel?

Child looks confused. Adult points to shovel.

Child: Yeah to dig.

Adult: Wow, you’re using a shovel to dig. Can I help you build the sand castle?


The beach is an ideal location to practice verbs in the water as well as on the sand, such as: splashing, jump, swim, dive, surfing run, digging, find, look, dive.

As well as verbs, the beach is a great play to introduce language concepts in context, such as:

  • Size: big wave, small shell, long surfboard
  • Texture: wet sand, sharp rock, slimy sea weed
  • Temperature: hot sand, cool water
  • Colours: red bucket, purple shell
  • Shape: round hole

A great family favourite of ours is ‘I Spy’. You can make a simple version using the concepts discussed above or just take turns to talk about what you can see or hear at the beach. For example: I spy with my little eye something that is blue and you can dig with it,

You could even take along some animals/dinosaurs/Duplo/ mini people for pretend play activities in the sand.

In the pool

Playing hide and seek or a game of treasure hunt in the pool is great fun with lots of opportunities for adding in a variety of language. Just hide some the toys in the pool and tell your child what to look for/find – you can make your instructions easy or more difficulty to suit your children’s needs. Let your child take a turn at giving you the ‘clues’ for finding a specific object, that way your child gets practice at careful listening, following instructions as well as using his/her own language.

Here are some examples of different types of instructions you can include:

  • Find all of the blue balls
  • Find something that has fins and sharp teeth
  • Find something that floats and is round
  • Find something on the big step that is red

If you have more than one child you can have ‘races’ to see who can find the object first, or you can encourage waiting and taking turns.

If your child is not interested in these types of games, little nursery rhymes and songs are great fun for the pool:

  • Humpty Dumpty (while sitting on the edge of the pool and ‘falling’ in)
  • Galumph went the little green frog
  • 5 speckled frogs
  • A sailor went to sea sea sea
  • Row row row your boat
  • 1, 2, 3, 4,5 once I saw a fish alive

There is even a lot of language that you can incorporate into the simple activity of blowing bubbles (under water or through a straw):

  • Try to blow: lots of bubbles, little or big bubbles, bubbles up high/down low, fast bubbles or slow bubbles.

Or you just talk about what he/she and you are doing in the pool, using short clear sentences with a range of vocabulary, such as:

  • Can you jump in?
  • I’m going to swim to the edge
  • Let’s blow some bubbles
  • Oh, that was a big splash
  • I’m going to kick slow… now faster, faster, faster!
  • Oops where did the ball go?
  • Oh, there it is … in the deep end

At a water play table (or even just in the bath!)

For reluctant communicators/talkers you can keep the toys in a see through, but hard-to-get-into container to encourage your child to request their favourite toys, creating a situation to motivate him/her to communicate/use language.

For younger children you can talk about lots of exciting things happening using:

  • Descriptions: full/empty, wet/dry, soft/hard, big/small,
  • Verbs: splash, spill, tip/pour, float, sink,
  • Prepositions: up, down, in, into, on, under, near, next to, with, behind,

For older toddlers/preschoolers you can introduce predicting – which ones might float or sink.


We hope these suggestions have given you some additional ideas on how you can add in more language while playing with your children at the beach, pool or at home with a water play table (or in the bath).


Have fun learning and splashing!

Great Christmas Gifts for your Toddler

Great Christmas Gifts for your Toddler

Christmas is just around the corner. If you are still doing some shopping for your toddler, this blog post is here to help! Whether you have a child who is typically-developing or has a communication delay, these toys are a great addition to your child’s toy collection.


1.  Play set

If you’re always on the hunt for toys, you’ll come to realise there are a huge variety of play sets. Kitchen play, construction/building, doctor’s, pet shop… you name it! With play sets, your child is exposed to less familiar vocabulary such as stethoscope, spanner, tongs, cash register. Play sets also encourage pretend play, which develops other skills including imagination, visualisation and problem solving.



2. Mr. Potato Head

This is one of our personal favourites! You can get so creative with this, from naming the parts, to making silly potato heads. With many sets including Mrs. Potato head, you can also introduce pronouns (e.g., he, she, his, her). There are also other play sets which include costumes for the potato heads which is again great for extending your child’s vocabulary, for example, in our set we have outfits for an explorer, diver, alien, surfer. We use this often in our therapy sessions, and the kids love it!





3. Bubbles

You must be thinking… bubbles?! Yes, bubbles! Speech Pathologists use bubbles in therapy to teach toddlers or children with delayed language the skill of requesting and commenting.  Depending on your child’s level of communication, he/she can use gestures, or one to two words,  such as: more, up, pop, more bubbles, bubbles gone  etc. There are so many different types of bubbles and bubble blowers, even the most simple (and inexpensive) are loved by the little ones. Here are a selection of ours that we use in our therapy sessions.




4.  Shape sorters

We’re sure many children have shape sorters but how about an interesting one like this? We like how it’s an unconventional shape sorter and you can use this toy to target verbs such as ‘stop’, ‘go’, fast, slow, ‘spin’. Verbs are often overlooked when encouraging children’s language.  We found this concrete mixer shape sorter at Target if you’re interested (maybe one of our next purchases!). 

5. Bath toys

Many children love water play. And what’s even better is using bath time to make learning fun! You can encourage simple verbs and prepositions, such as: ‘splash’, ‘push’, ‘float’, ‘on’, ‘in’, and ‘under’. You might be interested in our post coming up on water play – just in time for the Australian summer holidays!




6.  Kinetic Sand

Kinetic Sand feels different to regular sand. It holds its shape a lot better, making it more interesting and fun (and a lot less messy, so it is suitable for inside play!). Like regular sand you can make different things with it, allowing children to develop a range of skills including fine motor, pretend play and language. We use ours in our therapy sessions in lots of different ways, such as making dinosaur and space scenes and playing hide and find games.


7.  Play dough

Most kids love play dough! You don’t have to buy an elaborate set – just a few cutting tools, and simple shape cutters can give some children hours of fun. We sometimes see who can make the longest snake, the biggest ball, the best cookie – all needing no tools, but still lots of fun. There is so much descriptive language that can be incorporated into play dough activities, such as: soft, squishy, squashed, squeeze, flat, round, long. Another great addition are play dough mats – pictures or picture scenes that you can add to with play dough. You can easily find some really good ones for free on the internet.


8.  Balls

We use balls quite frequently in our therapy sessions. There are many different textured balls some very soft which are great for inside play. It is important to choose the type of ball that is suitable for your child, depending on his motor skills, size etc. There are lots to do with balls, from playing early turn taking games, catching, kicking, hide and seek, or simply just rolling. Not only can you encourage the use of verbs (catch, kick, push, stop, go), you can also encourage describing words (big, small/little, soft, round, colours). A ball pit is also a great addition!




9.  Colouring supplies

This would be an ideal present this Christmas if your child is ready to sit at a table. We recommend parents to get some paper- based colouring supplies for their children rather than just using an iPad. While the iPad is a convenient tool, it does not allow children to develop some of the fine motor skills (e.g., pencil grip) that they will need at school. Table-top activities also help children learn to learn to focus and attend to specific tasks for a short period, preparing them for school.


10.  And last but not least… Books!

If you have not seen our other blog post “My Favourite (Tried and Tested!) Books for Toddlers/Young Children” please do. There are a variety of books We’ve recommended which are equally great as gifts. As we were browsing, we found another gift set that we are absolutely stoked to share with all of you. It is also currently on half price in Big W!




There are no affiliate links in this post and we are not advertising any specific toys – just offering you some gift suggestions and how these types of toys can help your child’s language development through fun and play.

We hope you’ve found the perfect presents for your little ones. Happy holidays, everyone!


How to Make the Most of Your Child’s Speech Therapy Sessions

How to Make the Most of Your Child’s Speech Therapy Sessions

Hi again! We thought of coming up with a different blog post this time. Something that could benefit all parents, but especially those just starting out on their speech therapy journey. We love seeing our lovely clients regularly and it’s always a pleasure getting to know ‘our’ children and their families. Over the years we have noticed sometimes ‘small things’ can have a big impact on how well a child responds to their speech therapy session.

As we only see your child for a short time each week, we need to be able to make the most of your child’s speech therapy sessions, so we have compiled a list of simple things parents can do to help us get most out of your child’s speech therapy sessions:

  1. Make sure your child is well-fed prior to therapy

This sounds obvious – but sometimes is overlooked … and can greatly impact a child’s attention, listening and co-operation. Children can get lethargic, non-compliant or cranky, when they are hungry (hence the new word ‘hangry’!). Ensuring they have something to eat before coming to speech therapy will get them ready to focus, respond well and have lots of fun. Just like with adults … a hungry child is not a happy child!

  1. Figure out the best time for your child’s learning

Some adults are morning people while others enjoy sleeping in. Likewise, children may have such preferences too. You wouldn’t want to turn up at the clinic with your child half asleep in therapy. Many times, we have had a child fallen asleep in the car on the way to their therapy sessions. Some wake up way slower than others, and some a bit (lot!) cranky.

  1. Try not arrive late or rushed

Having a rushed schedule to get to your child’s speech therapy session may not set your child in the right mood to engage for a 30-minute to 45-minute session. If you can allow time to be able to arrive relaxed this will also to help your child start off their session in a more settled way

  1. Talk about the speech therapy session with your child before hand

Preparing your child beforehand, will help them to understand what to expect and help them to settle into the session more quickly – especially when your child is new to therapy. Our clients usually get into the routine of their sessions quite quickly, but it may take some children up to 3 sessions to adjust to this new environment. Remember that the therapist is also learning what works best for your child. We also adapt our sessions as we get to know your child and discover what works best with them.

  1. Sit in the sessions with your child

By and large you will get the most out of your child’s sessions if you sit in the sessions and join in with your child’s activities. You will be able to see the strategies used by your speech pathologist. We use different strategies for various purposes and sometimes a very specific way of doing an activity or supporting your child within an activity makes all the difference. When you participate in your child’s sessions this will help you to follow-up activities at home. Please note that being on your phone during the session can distract your child.

  1. Provide home Follow-up

This leads me to our next point: homework. In initial consultations and our first therapy sessions, we make it a point to let parents know the importance of home follow-up. The purpose of speech therapy is to achieve the goals in a variety of settings; and, of course, the home environment is one of the most important. We see more progress when parents are able to follow up their home activities consistently.Don’t be embarrassed about speaking to your therapist if you have difficulties carrying you’re your home practice activities. There are many ways of following up activities at home (there is another blog post in that!). We are experienced at working with children and have family lives too … and we know things don’t always go according to plan. If we know that your home follow-up is a struggle, we may have some little tricks to help you along or be able to adapt what we suggest make your home practice more successful and fun for all.

  1. Have open communication with your therapist

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s session, talk with your therapist. You may have some queries about why we have (or haven’t) done something that we haven’t thought to clearly explain. We welcome questions and feedback about our work with your child (we love to talk about our work!). If we work together as a team, we can get the best results for your child.


We hope that you have found these suggestions useful and we will also share in another post what strategies we use to help your child get the best out of their session as well.



Is my child a Late Talker?

Is my child a Late Talker?

How do you know if your child is a late talker?

A late talker refers to a toddler (18-30 months) who has a good understanding of language and meets other development milestones i.e., play skills, social skills, motor skills, but has a limited vocabulary expected for his/her age. It has been found that approximately 13% of 2 year olds are late talkers.

It is expected that children reach these milestones:


At 18 months

Most Children at 18 months old  have at least 20 words, including different types of words, including:

nouns: ball, car, bird,

actions: jump, go, fall

locations: up, down, there

describing words: more, dirty, big

social words: bye!, hello


Speech Therapy For Autistic ChildrenAt 24 months

Most Children have at least 100 words and put 2 words together to start making little sentences, such as: my teddy, and  ball gone, where daddy?.



At 30 months

Children should be able to use 3-4 word phrases, such as: there mamma sock, look big truck, dog sleeping on bed

Children are starting to use some grammatical structures such as plurals (cats, dogs) pronouns (I, me, and you) and they are also generally asking lots (!) of questions (what, where, why).


Should I ‘wait and see’?

We often get asked if it the child is too young to bring in or should the parents wait and see. We generally see children from 18 months where there are cause for concern about a language delay. We also see younger children where there may be developmental, medical or other specific concerns. Our rule of thumb is if there is parental concern or concern by another health professional, then act on this and seek further advice by taking your child to a speech pathologist for assessment.

While some children grow out of their delay and catch up with their peers without additional support, many don’t, and it can be difficult to determine who will catch up and those who will not catch up without support.

Bear in mind that those children developing age-appropriate language skills are practicing their higher-level skills daily, which then  aids further in their ongoing development. Children who are not reaching the expected milestones are not experiencing the same communication opportunities which adds to their risk of not keeping up or catching up. That is why it is recommended to seek advice and appropriate support sooner rather than later.

There are many easy to implement strategies that can significantly help a toddler who is slower to start to speak.

Early intervention gives the best possible outcomes

If you think your child could be a late talker, it is recommended for your child to be assessed by a  Speech Pathologist  as soon as possible. Speech pathologists are specialists in assessing and diagnosing communication difficulties and there are many benefits of bringing in a child in as soon as there are parental concerns:

  • Either your concerns will be alleviated, or you can get started straight away on a plan of action
  • You will be supported in helping your child develop their communication skills (parents are their children’s first and best teachers so you will be actively involved in your child’s therapy)
  • Intervention with little ones is play based and fun
  • Suitable strategies to facilitate communication can be are easily implemented within routine family activities
  • Referrals can be made on to appropriate health professionals for further investigation if needed (paediatrician occupational therapist, Ear Nose and Throat Surgeon, audiologist, psychologist)
  • Early referral and intervention can prevent ongoing difficulties
  • Early diagnosis of any underlying (medical or developmental) difficulties means that the most appropriate support can be provided from an early age.

How can I help my child’s language development?

  1. Talk with your child about things that are happening around you at the time.
  2. Talk with your child at his/her level and face to face.
  3. Slow down while you’re talking to your child and leave pauses, giving your child opportunities to respond. A late talker might find it overwhelming if you speak really quickly with him.
  4. Talk in full sentences – but keep your sentences short picking out the key things to focus on
  5. If you have  concerns regarding your child’s hearing, it is recommended that you visit an have your child’s hearing tested.
  6. If you have any concerns about your child’s communication skills seek professional advice sooner rather than later.


You can find out more about our services at, or check out our Facebook Page at:


References: Lauren Lowry The Hanen Centre, 2012; Owens, 2011


My 5 Favourite (tried and tested!) Books for Toddlers/Young Children

My 5 Favourite (tried and tested!) Books for Toddlers/Young Children

Books are one of the favourite and most-used tools as a Speech Pathologist. There are so different types of books available out there. From baby bath books, ‘lift the flap’ books to puzzle books. I could go on and on about the ways you can use books for different ages, babies to toddlers to school aged children. I would also be more than happy to share other interesting ways of using books in the future. But for now, here are some of my favourite books that I often use:


  1. Where’s Spot? – Eric Hill

I can’t rave how much I love ‘Spot’ books. I especially enjoy the ‘lift the flap’ ones as it adds an extra ‘surprise factor’ into book reading. This is a great book to introduce early prepositions – in, on, and under. You could also talk about the different animals that appear on each page and also give a little bit more information to extend your child’s knowledge about the animals and descriptive language (The crocodile goes.. snap! The hippo is big). Finishing off this book with a fun game of hide and seek is also another way  to extend your child’s learning about prepositions.


  1. Spot’s Puzzle Fun – Eric Hill

It wouldn’t come as a surprise that my next favourite book is also another ‘Spot’ book. A puzzle book is a fun way to introduce books to children may not be  interested in book-reading. While the book is being read, your child can put the pieces together, making it an interactive activity. This enables him/her to attend to the book while the story is being read, which keeps his interest going. This type of activity can work really well with toddlers who enjoy fine motor, or physical activities but have more difficulty participating in language-based activities.



  1. That’s not my tractor – Fiona Watt

I have used this book for both toddlers and young children with language delays. This is a ‘touch-and-feel’ book which introduces different textures (i.e., rough, smooth, scratchy etc.). Using and understanding describing words can be difficult for some children. Being able to touch as well as see the different textures in the book helps children to understand the concepts better. There is a whole series of these books to choose from, to appeal to whatever your child may be interested in… For children who like animals there are: That’s not my puppy, That’s not my duck, That’s not my monkey. For for toddlers interested in vehicles, there are: That’s not my train, That’s not my truck,  That’s not my plane….etc!


  1. What noise comes from a giraffe? – Craig MacLean

This is a silly book that many children enjoy. As well as using this in 1:1 sessions with little ones, I’ve used this several times for group therapy activities and I am always amazed how the group of toddlers will all sit quietly and listen to this story. I find it helpful relating to visits at the zoo, and asking what sounds  they hear from various animals. YouTube is also another way you could introduce animal sounds to children (another blog post in the making!) .



  1. My Presents – Rod Campbell

I  usually introduce this book by asking ‘Do you love presents?’  Our little clients  become very excited when I show them the book. At the end of the story I ask ‘what is your favourite present?’ This usually opens up a lovely discussion about what they like and why. This book  includes a lot of  early developing naming words relating to toys  (ball, book, puzzle, paints) to your child, it also describes the presents, the ball is ‘round and bouncy’. A fun extension activity for this book is to draw a present in a box – you can talk about what size/shape box you might need for a particular toy, eg a train might need a long box, for a dinosaur you might need a big box.


I hope this has given you some more ideas about how you can have fun developing language through books with your children!





Developing Toddlers’ Language Through play.

Developing Toddlers’ Language Through play.

How does playing with my child help develop their language skills?

Play provides opportunities for your child to connect and interact with you in a fun way. Children learn a lot through play, it is an important way that they learn about the world. For example young children learn about what objects can do and how things work. They also learn a lot of language and communication skills through play, such as:


Turn taking      Eye contact      Copying – actions, sounds and words      Saying something to start/continue the activity      Commenting

Answering questions           Listening and paying attention           Understanding language           Reading emotions           Problem solving

 Speech Therapy For Autistic Children      

What if my toddler likes to do their own thing?

One useful strategy, that sounds simple but is really effective in playing with young children who like to do their own thing, is to follow their lead.

 Following your child’s lead is to follow your child’s interests and respond with interest to what you child is communicating to you. So rather than getting your toddler to do what you want him to do, you follow what he/she wants to do.

How can I follow my child’s lead? 

  1. Respond with interest to what your child says or does
  2. Join in with your child’s play
  3. Copy what your child does
  4. Interpret what you think your child is trying to say – by putting it into words
  5. Comment on what your child and you are doing.

How can I Adapt my Language?

Some parents talk to their toddlers using adult-like language and many children are able to quickly understand such complex language. However, other little ones struggle and need more help to develop their language skills.

You can adapt your language to help your child by using the following 6 strategies:

  1. Repetition – use words several times within an activity
  2. Gesture – use gestures to help your child understand what your words mean
  3. Sentences – use complete but short sentences
  4. Emphasis – emphasize the important words
  5. Interpret – say the words that you think your child is trying to say
  6. Add on – if your toddler says a word – comment back by adding on some more words to help extend his/her language

For example, when you and your toddler are in the playground and he/she hand-leads you to the slide, you could point to the slide and say, ‘Oh slide! Timmy wants to go on the slide! Let’s go up the slide!’ By repeating the words several times (in a natural way), pointing and using gestures, it helps increase the child’s understanding of ‘slide’.

For another example, if you and your toddler are playing in the sandpit and your toddler says ‘sand’, you might interpret by saying ‘oh, you want more sand’, or you might add on by saying ‘the sand is wet’, or ‘Let’s dig the sand’.

What play activities are best?

Whatever your child is interested in!

There are so many things our toddlers are interested in! And so much language we can expose them to in various activities.

From classic nursery rhymes to playing in the sandpit, from playdough to books, from trains to pretend play with dolls and teddies.

See our following Blogs for different types of play activities and the types of words that you can include within your play.

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