5 Playful Fall Activities to Expand Your Toddler’s Speech & Language Development

Fall is my most FAVORITE time of year! I’ve collected FIVE Playful FALL activities that I think would be super great for building speech and language skills in your toddlers. I’ve provided my tips for encouraging speech and language development for each activity below.

playful fall activities

General Tips When Doing these Activities:

Check out my How to Help Your Child Talk page for additional tips.

1. Make an Autumn Tree and BLOW!

When I saw this  Preschool Fall Leaves/Tree Craft and Game from My Little Three & Me I was in LOVE. This SIMPLE interactive craft (as in, it will take you about 5 minutes to prepare) is a fantastic way to work on your toddler’s speech and language skills. Go watch the video and make your own! It is SIMPLE!

Fall-Craft-and-Math-Game

You and your little ones can:

  • Take turns blowing the leaves off the tree (turn taking is an important preverbal skill)
  • You can expand your child’s vocabulary with words such as on, off, blow, fly, fall, up, down, leaves, red, brown, yellow, orange (or whatever color leaves you made), tree trunk, etc.
  • For added vocabulary building and listening/following directions practice, you can write (or draw images of) different action words on the leaves and have your child gather the leaves and act out the words (walk, jump, crawl, sit, turn around, etc).
  • For practice in the speech room, you could a) write target words on the leaves or b) have children gather as many leaves as they can when they are blown around and then say a word/sentence for every leaf they gather.

2. Make a Sticky Tree and Fall Sensory Bin

Sensory bins provide endless opportunities for speech and language learning. This Fall Sensory Play  and Sticky Tree from How Wee Learn is a great example! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this sticky tree. You can work on concepts such as in, on, under, off, up, down and general fall vocabulary. A great read on sensory play from a speech and language standpoint is at Twodaloo.

Halloween-Sensory-Play-howweelearn

You and Your little ones can:

  • Put leaves ON and OFF
  • Make the leaves FALL off the TREE
  • Put the contents of the bin IN and pour them OUT of different containers
  • Talk about how the different items FEEL
  • Talk about which items are BIG and which are SMALL
  • Talk about which items are ROUND, LONG, SHORT, etc
  • Talk about the different SHAPES of the LEAVES. Find the ones that are the SAME and the ones that are DIFFERENT.

3. Make a Pumpkin Patch from Play Doh

I don’t know many little toddler or preschool boys (girls too!) who don’t love trains. So what could be cooler to celebrate Fall than this Play Doh Pumpkin Patch Train Play from Play Trains? Talk about pumpkins, what they look like, where they are, and what we can do with them (carve them, eat them). Talk about your own experiences going to the pumpkin patch this year (pull out the pictures!). PLAY TRAINS! ;)

Play Trains Play-Dough-Pumpkin-Patch-Train-Play-Invitation-1

You and Your little ones can:

  • Put the ORANGE play doh IN the TRAY
  • PUSH the play doh
  • Take the play doh OUT and make a STEM from the GREEN doh
  • Draw different things around the train set (see post) and talk about them (ponds, tress, etc)
  • Put the pumpkins IN, OUT, NEXT TO the trains
  • Put MORE or LESS pumpkins in the train
  • Hide the pumpkins in different places (working on LOCATION concepts)
  • Have the trains GO and STOP

4. Make a Fall Clothespin Tree

I love activities that can promote many developmental skills. I was drawn to this Fall Clothespin Tree from Stir the Wonder because it is a simple activity that can be used to build fine motor skills as well speech and language skills. Also, it is pretty simple to make and I love simple. For language expansion, you can talk about the leaves, their colors, the leaves being ON or OFF the tress, FALLING down, etc. You can read some great fall books with this activity like We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt.

Stir the wonder fall clothespin tree

You and your little ones can:

  • Talk about the colors of the leaves
  • Teach and reinforce concepts such as on and off and in and out (if you place the leaf clothespins in a container).
  • Talk about how we SQUEEZE clothespins to OPEN them
  • Expand your child’s utterances as you play: leaf>leaf on>green leaf on>green leaf on the tree>green leaf on the brown tree.
  • To expand this activity a bit, you can have your child pin the leaves onto random things around the home to further build vocabulary (i.e. the green leaf is on the bear, the yellow leaf is on the book).

5. Go on a Leaf Hunt 

Every year my kids and I go on a leaf hunt after we read Leaf Man , Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf, and We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt. We then make our own Leaf People. So many great opportunities for language!

Leaf Hunt Image2

 You and your little ones can:

  • Talk about the different COLORS and SHAPES of the leaves
  • Talk about the LOCATIONS of the leaves (in, on, under, etc)
  • Talk about putting your leaves IN the BAG and POURING them OUT when you are done
  • Talk about BODY PARTS when making leaf people
  • See post for more!

Remember that for all these activities, that it is the process that is important. Talk to your littles and have meaningful interactions.

Leaf-Man-Process-525x469

Now you tell me….

What are YOUR favorite fall activities for toddlers?

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About Katie

Katie is a licensed, credentialed and certified pediatric speech-language pathologist and mom to three (5, 3 and 9 months). Her passion about educating, inspiring and empowering parents of children with all abilities led her to start her blog Playing With Words 365 where she shares information about speech and language development, therapy ideas and tips, intervention strategies and a little about her family life too. Katie has been working in the field of speech pathology for 9 years and is certified in The Hanen Centre’s It Takes Two to Talk ® and Target Word ® programs and holds a certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). In addition to blogging and being a mommy, Katie works part time in her small private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

Comments

  1. Thanks for including my Fall Clothespin Tree in your post! I love your language extension ideas for all the activities! I shared and pinned this post! :)

  2. Thank you for including our tree blowing game. So many great ideas here!
    Emma (My little 3 and Me) recently posted..Autumn Crafts For Toddlers – Leaf SewingMy Profile

  3. Thank you for sharing these great ideas! I will definitely be using these in therapy with my preschoolers (and with my own little ones) these next few weeks. So fun!

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