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Gift Guide for children ages two to three years old: The best gifts to purchase for speech and language development

We are continuing our gift guide posts with ages two to three.  This is such a fun age due to all of the motor, cognitive and speech/language development that is happening.  This is where most children start to see a huge explosion in their speech abilities with more sounds and words being produced and combined.  

You can check out our earlier posts about toys for newborn to one year and one to two yearsEnjoy!

1.  Magnadoodle

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Depending on how old you are, you probably had one of these too!  

What can you do with it?

We are huge fans of the Magnadoodle at our house!  We take it in the car and on airplane trips.  It is great for drawing, scribbling and stamping.  A bonus is that it is mess-free! 

Why we love it:  This drawing board is great because it shows up in different colors.  You can use this board to talk about colors, using verbs such as drawing, writing, scribbling and coloring.  You can make and talk about shapes (circle, triangle, heart, square),  draw pictures of any kind with your child (houses, flowers, people, and the list goes on) and use the stamps that come with the set to target other various words and verbs such as press, push, stamp.  

2.  Car Garage

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What can you do with it?

This version is pricey but if you can find it second hand or on Ebay, it's a total win!  We like it because it is one of the only car garages that doesn't make a lot of noise or have lights on it.  And yes-you can purchase this for both boys and girls-my daughter loves it!  Use it to push cars down the ramp, put cars in the elevator to go up and down, drive cars and put gas in cars.

Why we love it:  You can do more than just roll the cars down with this toy.  The ramps I’ve seen come with different colored cars with different people in them.  You can make choices with the varying colors (i.e. Do you want purple or blue?).  Parents/caregivers can target verbs such as put in, drive car, roll down, pull up, push down, go in, go car etc.  Parents can also target pronouns he/she/they using the people in the cars.  This toy is also great for pretend play:  racing the cars, putting gas in the cars, driving the cars and washing cars. 

3.  Melissa and Doug cut apart food

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What can you do with it?

Any pretend food items are great, whether they are plastic or wooden.  These food items have Velcro between the pieces allowing little hands to use a wooden knife to cut apart.

Why we love it:  All of my speech therapy clients LOVE these food items!  The cutting allows kids to work on their bilateral fine motor skills.  Parents can teach their children colors and food item names.  Parents can target verbs like: eat, eating, cutting, give, bring, and take using these food items.  The biggest plus to using pretend food is to set up scenarios where children are pretending to cook and eat.  This is a great opportunity for parents to get on the floor and take turns with their children cooking food, serving food, and eating food.

4.  Melissa and Doug House

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This is another absolute favorite with my speech therapy clients!  

What can you do with?

Use small keys to open doors, ring doorbells, play with and pretend with four wooden people.  Kids can also use the handle to carry this house around.

We we love it:  This house makes noise as each door has a different doorbell sound.  I like to use this as a reward for communicating with me.  Parents can target greetings such as:  knock knock, who's there?, hello, and bye bye while taking the people in and out.  You can target verbs such as open, close, push, put in, turn while using the keys to unlock and lock the doors.  Parents can also target colors as each door is a different color that matches with each wooden person inside which is also good for matching skills!

5.  Duplos

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What can you do with them?

Anything!  Obviously you can build towers and buildings with them.  At our house, we've made swords, wands, cars, trains, bridges, houses, and animals out of duplos.  The possibilities are endless.  You don't have to build what they show on the box.

Why we love them:  As said above, you can do anything with them so you can target a lot of words.  Parents can target verbs such as build, stack, push, and pull off.  These are great for targeting prepositions such as on top, beside, and under while using the blocks.  Since the blocks are different colors, they can be used for sorting, matching and talking about colors.  Some of the duplos have numbers on them which can be great for teaching numbers and counting the individual blocks.  

6.  Play-Doh

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Ok parents, don't cringe!  I know you are all imagining this play-doh all over your table and carpet.  Play-doh is great (with a little supervision)!  

What do you do with it?  

Play-doh is another toy that has ending possibilities.  Children don't have to have the fanciest or most complicated parts to play with Play-Doh.

Why we love it:  In addition to the fine motor skills that can be targeted with Play-Doh, we love it for the creativity that can come with playing with it.  Verbs such as pull out, grab, roll, smash, push, and flatten can be used while using it.  Kids can pretend to build people, food, and really anything with Play-Doh.  My 28-month-old likes to make us Play-Doh pancakes and other foods then we pretend to eat them.  Play-Doh is great for teaching your children turn-taking skills (the child makes an item, then you make an item, etc).

7.  Tot Art set

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What can you do with it?

These sets come with various sheets, stickers, tissue paper, crayons, buttons and other materials for your little one to get creative with!  

Why we love it:  We had some of these given to us for my daughter's second birthday (funnily enough by a friend who is an occupational therapist).  My daughter had the best time creating art!  These art sets can target color words, action words (color, tear, put on, stick on, glue), positional words (top, bottom, middle, side), as well as receptive language/understanding (Please get the giraffe sticker and put it in the middle of the page).  

8.  Books

Of course, we couldn't make a toy list without including book ideas.  Just as in the earlier ages, board books are a great choice as well as lift-the-flap books.

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Read your child the books with plenty of emotion and variance in your voice for exciting or scary parts.  Talk to your child about other pictures in the book, not just what the words reference.  Ask your child to point to various items throughout the books (this works on comprehension and vocabulary recognition).  As your child begins to talk more, ask your child to read YOU the book!

We hope this list gives you some great gift ideas for the toddlers and early preschoolers in your life.  Don't forget to check out our earlier posts about gift buying for newborns to one year and one to two years old.  If you have more questions, please contact us at toddlertalkingtt@gmail.com.

*Disclosure:  This post includes links to items listed on Amazon.  ToddlerTalking is an Amazon affiliate.