On Monday I shared my tips for selecting quality toys this holiday season to expand your child’s speech & language development. In that post, I also shared some of my favorite toy brands, including Melissa & Doug. In fact, several of my 25 Best Gift suggestions to expand speech and language skills are made by Melissa & Doug. So when I heard they were doing a “25 Days of Terrific 25” Giveaway on their Facebook page to celebrate their Terrific 25 Gift List (the “best of the best” holiday gifts for the 2013 holiday season) I wanted to share it with you so you could have the opportunity to win some great toys!
Why Do I Love Melissa & Doug Products?
I love Melissa & Doug products because most of them fit my list of tips I provide for picking toys:
- No batteries
- Open ended
- Basic, traditional toys
- Gender neutral
In addition, I love that Melissa and Doug toys are mostly made of wood and metal rather than plastic and that many of their “learning toys” that are meant to teach letters and numbers provide learning opportunities in a multi sensory way without the use of annoying lights, buttons and songs. They are also well made and hold up well over the years.
But here is my main reason I love these toys: Overall, I find that Melissa & Doug toys are great choices when looking for open ended toys to provide your child with meaningful speech and language learning opportunities. Children like to play what they see. They like to imitate what we do.
In fact, imitation is a crucial skill needed for speech and language development.
Yes, I said crucial. When working with very young children with speech and language delays, we sometimes have to start with basic imitation skills and often this will actually begin NOT with the imitation of speech but with the imitation of gross motor activities. A great way to do this is by using real life items or toys similar to real life items to provide opportunities for gross motor imitation. Melissa & Doug happen to have many great products that can be used to help develop both preverbal and verbal skills in young children.
I talked a lot in my Best Gift post about how children like to play what they see and mentioned earlier the importance of imitation skills.The following Melissa & Doug products are great for building these skills. Using these toys, your children can use their language to request things, share with you, ask questions, and learn new vocabulary. You can work on listening and following directions by playing fun games of Simon Says with these toys. Your child can practice answering simple questions as you play together. In addition, because they are all open ended toys, they allow for plenty of independent play opportunities which can allow you a break to make dinner or pay the bills as your children play independently. Here are my three favorite items that Melissa & Doug included in their Terrific 25 Gifts List.
Let’s Play House! Stainless Steel Pots & Pans Play Set
My #13 recommendation for Best Gift to Expand Speech and Language skills was a toy kitchen. Every toy kitchen needs a set of pots and pans, no? They allow the child to imitate what they see (mom or dad cooking). Toddlers can learn the vocabulary for the different kitchen utensils included and learn and use many verbs and locative concepts while playing in their kitchen.I also love stainless steel sets as they look real and are easy to clean. You can read more about how kitchen sets can be used to expand speech and language skills in my Best Toys Series part three post.
Let’s Play House! Dust! Sweep! Mop!
Though we do not have this exact set, we have a broom set in our home that get’s LOTS if use. Your child can not only learn the life skills of sweeping, mopping and cleaning, but will be developing their gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination all while having opportunities for speech and language development.
Let’s Play House! Grocery Cans
These go great with both my #13 Best Gift of a toy kitchen as well as with my # 11 Best Gift of Store Play Toys. You can read more about how to use these to expand speech and language skills in my Best Toys Series part three as well.
What is YOUR favorite Melissa & Doug Toy? To enter the “25 Days of Terrific 25” Giveaway, head over to Melissa and Doug’s Facebook Page now. Good luck!
FYI, no Melissa & Doug did not pay me to write this post, I really do love their products and wanted my readers to have an opportunity to win some. I am going to be entering this post in a contest for an opportunity to win some of their products, however! You can read about that opportunity on their blog. Good luck winning some great stuff!