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Activities for Language Development

Activities for Babies (0–2 years)

Babies take in a lot of information about their world in the first year. One of the first skills that a baby will learn is the basic structure of conversation (expressive skills and receptive skills). They learn these skills through imitation. Respond to your baby as much as possible when they are trying to communicate with you using their expressive skills. This will teach them that communication is a mutual exercise.

1. Sing songs with your baby. Get free song ideas from Super Simple Songs at

2. Look and Lift. In this activity, your baby will search for the sound of either your voice or a toy.

3. Do you see what I see? Since babies enjoy seeing both contrast (black and white) and bright colors (red, green, yellow and blue) on toys, pick a colorful toy and slowly move the object from one side to the other side while your baby is lying on his back. Your baby’s eyes and head will try to follow the object as it moves.

4. Read board books to your baby. Lay your baby on their tummy or in your lap, and point to pictures in the book to excite them into reaching forward to touch the book.

Sources: (SOURCE 1)

Activities for Kids (2–5 years old)

  • I Spy: Take turns guessing things that you see. Pick something that you can both see, but don’t say what it is. Give clues until your child guesses what you are describing. For example, if you spy a knife, you might say, “I spy something sharp”, “I spy something long”, or “I spy something that I eat with”.
  • What am I?: Take turns giving clues to guess objects that you think of. Your descriptions will sound like a riddle! For example, if you are describing a goldfish, you could say, “I’m orange, I swim, and I have fins. What am I?”
  • Telephone: A child whispers a story to someone else in the car. That person whispers the same story — as close to a word-for-word recount as possible — to a third person, and so on. The last person to hear the story repeats it out loud so everyone can hear. Invariably, some of the story will have been lost in the translation, and the resulting garbled message usually inspires a good laugh.
  • Word Building: Give your child a word. Ask him to add another word to it to make a new word. For example, if you say, “rain”, your child could add the words “coat”, “bow”, “hat”, or “fall” to make the words “raincoat”, “rainbow”, “rain hat”, and “rainfall.”
  • Simon Says: Give 1, 2, or 3 directions to your child. Start most of your directions with “Simon says”. For example, say, “Simon says, touch your ear, then jump up.” Your child can only follow the directions that start with “Simon says”. If you don’t say “Simon says” at the beginning of your direction, she shouldn’t do what you say. For example if you say, “Turn around and clap your hands”, your child should do nothing and say, “You didn’t say Simon says!” Take turns being the person who gives the directions.
  • Telephone Number: Say a list of 3 to 5 numbers. Say each number, like “3-6-9-4-5”. Don’t say “thirty-six thousand, nine hundred forty-five”. Have your child say the numbers back to you in the right order. As this gets easier for your child, add one more number. Let your child give you a list of numbers to repeat!
  • Throw One Back: Name 2 or 3 things that belong to the same group or category, and 1 thing that doesn’t belong to that group. Have your child tell you, or throw back the object that doesn’t fit. For example, if you say, “broccoli, celery, hotdog, lettuce”, your child would say, “Hotdog does not belong, because it’s not a vegetable.”
  • Word Building: Give your child a word. Ask him to add another word to it to make a new word. For example, if you say, “rain”, your child could add the words “coat”, “bow”, “hat”, or “fall” to make the words “raincoat”, “rainbow”, “rain hat”, and “rainfall.”

Sources: (SOURCE 1), (SOURCE 2)

Activities for Kids (5+)

  • Chain Game: Take turns saying words that go together. See how long you can go without breaking the chain! For example, start by saying, “sun”. Your child then adds a word that goes with “sun”, like “summer”. You will need to come up with a word that goes with “summer”. You may end up with a very long chain of words like, “sun”-“summer”-“hot”- “beach”-“sand”-“sandcastle”-“shovel”-“pail”. Keep going until you can’t think of any more words.
  • The Theme Song Game: One person hums the tune to a favorite TV show, and everyone else tries to name the show as fast as possible. The first person to guess correctly hums the next song.
  • Memory Test: The first person says “A is for —” filling in the blank with any word beginning with the letter A, such as “apple.” The second person comes up with a word for the letter B, such as “book,” but must also repeat the “A” word: “A is for apple, B is for book.” Continue through the alphabet, each person taking several turns and reciting more and more letters and words. By the time you reach the letter Z, that player will recite the whole alphabet and its corresponding words. However, if you’re playing with younger kids you may want to choose an earlier letter than “Z” to be the final one.
  • Secret Place Race: One person looks at a road map and finds a small town, village, river, etc. That person announces the name of the place she has chosen. A second player has 60 seconds to look at the map and try to find the secret place.
  • Restaurant Race: Each player chooses a restaurant, such as Burger King, Taco Bell, McDonalds, etc. Players earn points by spotting their restaurant off the road, on a billboard, on exit markers, on Food/Fuel signs, or by hearing it mentioned on the radio. Impose a time limit — say, 20 minutes — and then add up the points.
  • The Alphabet Game: One person chooses the right-hand side of the road, and someone else the left. Each player looks for letters of the alphabet that appear on signs or license plates on their side. The object of the game is to point out all the letters of the alphabet in order, from A to Z. The first person to spot the entire alphabet wins.
  • The Animal Name Game: One person names an animal. Then each person in order has to name another animal (no repeating!) that starts with the last letter of the previous animal named. There are no winners or losers in this game. With older children, try the game with TV shows, or geographical categories such as cities or countries.
  • Twenty Questions: Take turns thinking of a person, place, or thing. Don’t say what you’re thinking of. The other person asks questions to guess what you’re thinking of. You can only say “yes” or “no” when you answer. You’re only allowed to ask 20 questions to guess what the object is.
  • Word Subs: Say 2 or 3 sentences that are exactly the same except for one word. Ask your child to tell you the word that you changed in the sentences. For example, your three sentences could be, “I folded your shirt and put it into your drawer. I folded you undershirt and put it into your drawer. I ironed your shirt and put it into your drawer.” Your child would then tell you the words you changed were “shirt” and “undershirt”, and “folded” and “ironed.”
  • Mix-Up: Tell your child 4 or 5 words that are all mixed up, but that make up a sentence when they are in the right order. Ask your child to put the words in the right order! For example, if you say, “outside, is, it, cold”, your child would tell you the sentence, “It is cold outside.” To make this trickier, ask your child to tell you 2 sentences with the same words. For example the words, “outside”, “is”, “it”, and “cold” can also turn into the question “Is it cold outside?”

Sources: (SOURCE 1), (SOURCE 2)


  • Decoda Downloadable Literacy Activities for 0- to 5-year-olds: Talk activity cards (Each card includes a specific game or activity for adults to do with young children, often including a good supplementary storybook to extend the “lesson.”)
  • Decoda Downloadable Daily Activities for 0- to 3-year-olds: Move activity cards (This 110-page book, starting on page 19, lays out different activities to engage your child for various skill sets, including hand-eye coordination, sound and vocabulary development, and understanding the relationship of different words to each other (such as opposites, synonyms, and verbs vs. nouns)
  • Decoda Downloadable Daily Activities for 3- to 5-year-olds: Hop activity cards (This series of activity cards focuses more on providing activities to popular children’s books. Adults are encouraged to speak out loud a lot during the activities included. Children learn vocabulary best in context, so using verbs in all of their various conjugations, and explaining the activities will greatly help the child’s language development.
  • ASHA Talking on the Go Conversation Starters for children. This spiral-bound book provides multiple conversation starters for the supermarket, playing outside, taking a ride, and other daily activities for parents that are struggling with ideas on what to talk about. ($29.00USD)
  • Screen Free Week Activity Suggestions:
  • Month-specific and Age-specific activities (Years 0-5) suggested by speech pathologists for language development (Alberta Human Services)