Household Items that Support Speech and Language

As a pediatric and adult bilingual speech-language pathologist I often get asked “How can I help my child at home?”

I have learned that toddlers and children love, and prefer, playing with everyday ordinary items around the house! Children learn through play, play, play!

In this blog we will review some developmental milestones and activities to help your little ones at home. This is beneficial for parents, teachers and anyone who works with children.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at

Some Milestones

Percentage of Intelligibility

According to Pena-Brooke & Hedge (2007) these are the levels of intelligibility we expect for each age range. How much can non familiar people in non familiar contexts understand your child?


How many words should my child have?

According to Nicolosi, Harryman, & Kreshech (2006); and Owens (1996) we expect the following number of words per age range.

Household Items to Support Speech and Language

1) Paper Towel Tubes: I often collect these and use them for the following two activities.

a) Shakers

Ages: 2-4

Although most of us throw these in the recycling bin, I collect these and recycle them for speech activities. Paper towel tubes can be used for a variety of purposes.

What’ you’ll need: Paper towel tubes, duct tape, dried rice or dried pasta, markers/stickers.

Instructions: Take your paper towel tube. Cover one end with duct tape. Insert with dried rice or pasta, cover the other end with duct tape, then color and decorate with markers or stickers. I recommend making 5-6 of these with assorted colors and designs. You can make some longer and some shorter (using toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls cut in half).

Target 2 year old words/phrases:

  1. Boom, boom boom! Shake, shake, shake, I do! More boom. More shake.
  2. Combine with your child’s favorite song. Sing, pause, prompt for “more.

Target 3 year old words/phrases:

  1. Take Turns “My turn.I want a turn. Your turn.”
  2. Change the tempo and volume by shaking the shaker slowly, faster, hard and soft. Use words such as “WOAH thats LOUD, shhh that’s quiet, oooo thats fast!!!!!, Wait let’s do it slooowly…

Quick Tip: Kids LOVE it when we are animated. I change my volume, tone and voice often in sessions to keep little ones engaged!


b) Telescope

Ages: 4-5

I love using paper towel tubes to play “I spy” with the telescope.

What do you spy that is red, round, large, small, soft? I spy something large and brown, guess what it is?

Articulation: Can you spy 5 things that start with the sound “S”?

Quick Tip: If your child uses a 2 word utterances, prompt him/her for a 3 word utterance. If he/she uses a 3 word utterance, prompt for a 4 word utterance. Keep expanding! Use different describing words! Use locations, colors, sizes, shapes etc.


Plastic Cups


Plastic cups are so easy to use, no prep, just fun! My main two activities with plastic cups are:

a) Cup Mic!

b) Carnival Knock Down!

a) Cup Mic

Ages: 2-4

Use a large plastic cup as a handheld mic! I use the large coffee cups from coffeeshops. Your voice and your child’s voice reverberates in the cup creating an amplification! This is a hit with my kiddos.

  1. Songs: Old McDonald Had a Farm: “What does the cow/horse/pig say?
  2. Practice animal names/animal sounds like “moo moo, bah bah, neigh neigh, qwack qwack” into the mic.
  3. Practice environmental noises: Whee, A-choo, Vroom Vroom etc…

b) Carnival Knock Down

Ages: 2-3

You’ll need 10 plastic cups, rolled up foil into balls.

Target word/phrases:

  1. “More, ready-set-GO!”
  2. “Down, up, I do, my turn, yes, no.”
  3. “Knock it. Knock down.”

You can practice counting the numbers when assembling the cups. Practice the word “up” for each cup that you assemble.

Quick Tip: Assembling activities is a motivating way to get high repetitions of targeted words.


Toy Wash

Ages: 2-3

What you need: Large plastic bowl, plastic toy animals, toy items, soap, towel. Label each animal + make the animal sounds.

Target words: “Eww, dirty. wash, water, soap, dry, towel, clean, go in, come out, all done, more.”

Ages: 4-5

Engage the child in circles of communication exchange!

  • Who’s turn is it now?
  • What are some places you get dirty?
  • What are some ways to keep clean?
  • Tell me about the time we went to the farm and saw the dirty animals.
  • Tell me about the time we washed Chucky the dog!


  • Ex: “R” sound: “Rub, rinse”
  • Ex: “D” sound: “Dirty, dump in, dry off, done”
  • Ex: “K” sound: “Clean, come in, I care, cute dirty cow.”

Receptive Language:

  • 1-step: “Pick up the horse.”
  • 2-step: “Pick up the horse and wash it with the soap”
  • 3-step: “Pick up the horse, then wash it, and put it in the water”



Animal Toy Rescue

Ages: 2-4

What you need: Toy animals or plastic toys, painters tape, aluminum cooking tray.

Using the back of the tray, place each toy animal or plastic toy and tape them using painters tape. Then ask your little one to help rescue the animals

Target words/phrases: “Uh oh, help! Cow is stuck. Horse is Stuck. Tape. Off. Boo boo. Ouchie. Help!!!!

Quick Tip: Encourage your child to use the word “Help” and phrases “Mommy/Daddy help me.” We want to promote language that your child will need and use on a daily basis.

  • “Lets save them.”
  • “I can save the cow.”
  • “Who else needs help?”
  • “I got him out!”
  • “Help me!”



Bubble Glove

Ages: 2-4

What you need: Plastic cup, glove, scissors/knife and straw.

Take a plastic cup, cover it with a glove, draw happy faces on fingers, poke hole in the cup with scissors and insert a straw. Tada! You have a bubble glove!

Kids love making this WITH me and then taking it home!

Target words: “Blow, pop, up, down, more, go up, I do, blow up, I blow it!”

Ages 4+

I have the child describe EACH step of the instructions using complete sentences. “I need a cup, straw, glove and scissors. I put the glove on the cup. I put the straw in the hole.”


Baby Care

Ages: 2-4

What you need: Everyday hygiene and daily activity items including a new toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, brush, towel spoon, water bottle, blanket, spoon, plate.

Target words: “Wash ,wet, dry, dirty, clean, soap, blanket, water, eat, yummy, food, night night, wake up, tired, sleep.”

Ages: 4-5


  • “What should we do next with the baby? “
  • “Uh oh baby isn’t feeling well, what should we do? “
  • “If baby is tired, what should we do? “
  • “If baby is dirty, what should we do?”

Receptive language:

  • “Give me something that we use to clean our teeth.”
  • “Give me something that we use to eat.”
  • “Pick up the water bottle and give it to the baby.”


Trace Game

Ages: 2-4

What you need: Paper, any small everyday items! I used play food, utensils and play toys.

Trace each toy on the paper and have the child match each toy to the traced image.

Target: Label each object, describe them with colors, use pronouns “My turn, I do, your turn, you do.” “I want + (inert object).”

Ages: 4+

I love using attributes with this game. I have the child describe each item using 3-4 attributes:

  1. Color
  2. Shape
  3. Size
  4. Location (Where can it be found)
  5. Function (What do we do with it?)
  6. Composition (What is it made out of?)
  7. Parts (What parts dose it have?)
  8. Tastes like?
  9. Smells like?
  10. Sounds like?
  11. Feel like?

I encourage the children to use longer utterances and correct grammatical and semantic structures.

Container Hack

I call this activity the “Container Hack”  and use it to help children work on requesting objects. Toddlers and children love to hide objects in containers, fill them up, dump them out, stack them, knock then down!

We also target prepositions such as “in, out, on, off”.

Target words: “Knock-Knock, open, I do, stuck, uh oh, out, more, box”

The more containers you use, the more opportunities you have to practice the target words!


There are many creative ways to support speech and language at home for your child. Many of the examples that I highlighted are cheap and I bet you’ll already have most of them! If you think you like to be more creative or want more productive ideas to keep your child engaged while they’re having fun, please contact us!

We offer clinic based, school based, home based and online based therapy for children and adults! Also, follow us on social media to learn about upcoming events, learn tips on how to help your little ones and to learn more about our favorite speech finds!
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Contact: (310) 402-3775


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Naomi Ester Rahmani MS CCC-SLP


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