Play with a Purpose
How to Use Dollhouses to Develop & Increase Speech, Language, & Communication Skills
By Sholeh Shahinfar MA, CCC-SLP, RYT
Play is critical to development, it builds the foundation for our kiddos to become curious, to explore and to become active little learners. Play also helps to develop language skills, fine motor skills, social skills, attention and leads to discovering a deeper sense of self and others. According to the NAEYC “the impulse to play comes from a natural desire to understand the world.” Play-based learning is type of teaching and learning style, where the child often leads and there is more of an open-ended structure. Using play-based learning is a wonderful way to encourage many areas of development, including speech, language and communication.
Below are some wonderful way to target speech, language and communication development while playing house. You can do this with a dollhouse, with a pretend house or kitchen playset, and even during daily routines around the house! Have fun!
- Vocabulary: Work on functional vocabulary (receptive and expressive), such as family members, furniture, rooms in a house, items around the house, etc. (bonus tip: this is also a great way to work on categories!)
- Requesting: Your child can request by pointing or signing or using verbal communication (words, short phrases, or sentences) depending on their age and/or the level of their abilities
- Pronouns: Work on identifying and using boy/girl, he/she/they, his/hers/theirs while answering questions
- Prepositions/Spatial Concepts: Work on identifying spatial concepts through following directions (examples: put the pot on the stove, put daddy behind the couch. You can also work on using prepositional phrases by asking “where” questions (i.e. where is daddy).
- Answering WH-Questions: Work on “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” and “why” questions while playing with the dollhouse (examples: who is sleeping, where is the baby, what is daddy cooking, when do you brush your teeth).
- Turn Taking: Practice turn taking during social routines, like feeding the baby. This is also a great time to work on “my turn” and “your turn.”
- Social Routines: This is a great opportunity to teach and practice social routines, like greetings (knock on the door and have two dolls greet each other), asking questions (daddy doll asks mommy doll “what do you want to eat”), bath time routines, etc. (bonus tip: also a great way to work on sequencing!)
When selecting toys for your kiddos, it is always important to consider choosing toys that inspire creativity and empower self-expression, making any dollhouse one of the perfect choices for your little one!
Sholeh Shahinfar, MA, CCC-SLP, RYT
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