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Toddlers (18 to 36 months old)

Here are some examples of the types of things you can do to talk with your toddler to help promote language development:
  • Sing nursery rhymes such as “1, 2, Buckle My Shoe” while buckling/tying your child’s shoes.
  • Introduce new words during daily routines. While dressing, ask your child if the clothes are soft, rough, wrinkled, smooth, bright, dull, and so on.
  •  Read wordless picture books with your child, these are an open ended reading experience; since there are no words you can make up a story based on the illustrations or simply describe and talk about the illustrations.
  • Wordless picture books can be more engaging when used with toddlers because they will point to specific parts of the image which interest them.  Follow your toddler’s lead and talk about what is going on in the illustrations which catch their attention.
  • Turn snack time into talk time! Next time your toddler is having a “themed” snack like animal crackers, sit with them and sort the snack together. For example: “Oh, look I found a cat. He looks like the neighbor’s cat, Toby, with his long tail. Do you see another cat cracker?”
  •  When grocery shopping turn it into a food scavenger hunt. In the produce aisle, challenge your toddler to find three green fruits or vegetables. Talk about the fruit or vegetables you find. Is it smooth or bumpy? Does it have leaves? Can you smell it?
  • Play “What’s in the bag” with familiar toys. Toddlers at the older end of this range will be learning to associate names with objects. Put three or four familiar toys into a bag, saying the name of each toy aloud as you do so. Invite your toddler to reach into the bag and pull something out. Ask her to name the object; if she doesn’t remember the name, you can encourage her by saying something like, “Wow! You found a car? Can you say car?” You can expand on this by describing the toy and how it might be used or something interesting about it. Play with it for a few seconds and then repeat with another toy, if the toddler is still interested.
  • Let your toddler help you in the kitchen! Read a recipe together and talk about what it means. Describe the ingredients and what you are doing. Let your toddler help with safe things, such as mixing.
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