Toy cars are perfect toys to use to support early language skills with your late talkers, or preschoolers with language delays. You can target so many goals and use a range of language strategies with them during your therapy sessions and play-based therapy activities. I’m going to share 5 ways you can use toy cars to support early language skills in your speech therapy sessions.
1) Use language strategies while playing with cars
You can target a range of language strategies while playing with toy cars. They’re an ideal toy to use in play-based parent coaching sessions because cars are often very motivating for little ones.
When playing with toy cars, some of my favourite early language strategies are:
- Commenting– talk about what you or the child are doing in play.
- Pausing– play “ready…steady…go” (or “ready, set, go”) games, and pause before saying “go”, to give the child an opportunity to fill in the gap.
- Choices– have a selection of toy cars and vehicles, and offer the child a choice of which one they want to play with.
- Repetition– repeat the target words a lot during play.
- Copy and add– repeat what the child has said and add another word on. For example “car”… “fast car”, “car go”, “my car”, “push the car” etc.
- Follow their lead– watch what the child is doing in play, then join in with this. Follow and copy what they do in play, rather than trying to direct it.
These Early Language Handouts for play are perfect for play-based parent coaching sessions. They have handouts for 21 different toys (including cars, as shown above), so they make planning and delivering play-based parent coaching sessions a breeze. You can get them in English and Spanish too. If you want more ideas, including how to use 24 different language strategies with toy cars in your parent coaching sessions, and 10 play ideas for toy cars, check out the Early Intervention Handbook here.
2) Use toy cars to practise imitating actions
Imitation is an important pre-linguistic skill, and using toy cars is a fun way to practise imitation of actions in your early intervention sessions. I like to model actions such as pushing the car a little bit, then stopping, pushing using one finger, or banging the car on the floor. If you want some more ideas for how you can target imitating actions in play or daily routines, check out my Imitating Actions resource here.
3) Use toy cars to practise symbolic sounds
You can also use toy cars to practise symbolic sounds and exclamatory words, which is great for supporting early language skills. Words and sounds like ‘brum’, ‘zoom’, ‘beep beep’, ‘honk’, ‘wow’, ‘yay’, etc. are fun to practise when playing with toy cars. I like doing activities such as pushing cars down a ramp, racing cars, and making road blocks, to give us lots of opportunities to practise these sounds and words. If you need more ideas for practising symbolic sounds and exclamatory words in play and routines, check out this resource.
4) Use toy cars to practise core words
A simple “click-clack” car track, as shown above, is a perfect toy to use to support early language. I like to use this to practise core words such as “go”,”stop”, “again”, “more”. You can also practise turn-taking, requesting, and making choices. I shared about all the different vocabulary and goals you can target with a “click-clack” track in an Instagram post, here.
If you are are a “bagless” therapist, and/or deliver home-based sessions, you can make your own car track/ramp using an old cardboard box, or a sofa cushion. You can target the same vocabulary as the click-clack track too. I also shared about this in an Instagram post, here.
5) Use toy cars in a simple game, to support early language skills
Another great way to use toy cars to support early language skills is to do a “What’s in the bag?” activity. For this, you put a range of vehicles inside a bag. Take it in turns to take out a vehicle; name the vehicle (or do the sound), play with it, and match it to the picture. As well as vehicle names and sounds, this activity reinforces early skills such as turn-taking, waiting, sharing, requesting and more.
I wrote more about how you can use “What’s in the bag?” activities to support early language skills, here. The cars in the image above are from my Symbolic Sounds and Exclamatory Words resource.
I hope you have found these ideas useful, and you have gotten some new ideas for how you can use toy cars to support early language skills. If you want more ideas, including how to use 24 different language strategies with toy cars in your parent coaching sessions, and 10 play ideas for toy cars, check out the Early Intervention Handbook here.
I would love to know if you have any other activities you do; drop me a comment below.