Would you like to know which toys to buy to help your child to expand their speech and language skills? And ways in which you can use these toys to support language development and overall learning? If so, you’ll be interested in this series of articles about toys as learning tools, written by an American speech therapist as part of her blog. In this series, the author, Katie, explains the key language, cognitive and other skills a child will learn from playing with the toys she has selected. In this extract, Katie talks you through the many skills a toddler can learn simply from playing with a set of stacking cups:
“Stacking/nesting toys are by far one of my most favorite toys for infants and toddlers. I have personally found that our stacking/nesting cups have been the most used and longest used toys that we have ever bought. Here are just some of the language, cognitive and other skills that your infant and toddler can learn by playing with stacking/nesting cups:
- Preposition concepts of in/out as he nests the different sized cups
- Preposition concepts of on, under, next to, in front, behind, top, bottom, on, off, and between as he stacks and builds with them.
- Color concepts
- Shape concepts (especially if you have different sets of cups in different shapes)
- Size concepts of big, bigger, biggest; small, smaller, smallest; small, medium, large
- Concepts of full/empty (by filling some cups up with other things like rice, beans, etc)
- Counting skills
- Problem solving skills: Figuring out which cups stack on others best, or nest within other best.
- Fine motor and motor planning skills
- Cause and effect relationships
- If the stacking/nesting cups have pictures of animals/letters on them you can also teach these vocabulary words.
- Other activity idea: Take another small toy (like an animal) and hiding it under a cup and have your infant or toddler find where the toy went.
- Other activity idea: If you are using plain plastic colored cups, you can draw or tape pictures of any target vocabulary on the cups and use the cups to target this vocabulary (i.e. You can play following directions games with the cups by saying “Put the horse cup on top of the pig cup.”)”