Category: Speech


Activities to Encourage Speech & Language Development, Birth – 2 Years

By Alexa Demyan,

  • Encourage your baby to make vowel-like and consonant-vowel sounds such as “ma,” “da,” and “ba.”
  • Reinforce attempts by maintaining eye contact, responding with speech, and imitating vocalizations using different patterns and emphasis. For example, raise the pitch of your voice to indicate a question.
  • Imitate your baby’s laughter and facial expressions.
  • Teach your baby to imitate your actions, including clapping you hands, throwing kisses, and playing finger games such as pat-a-cake, peek-a-boo, and the itsy-bitsy-spider.
  • Talk as you bathe, feed, and dress your baby. Talk about what you are doing, where you are going, what you will do when you arrive, and who and what you will see.
  • Identify colors.
  • Count items.
  • Use gestures such as waving goodbye to help convey meaning.
  • Introduce animal sounds to associate a sound with a specific meaning: “The doggie says woof woof.”
  • Acknowledge their attempt to communicate.
  • Expand on single words your baby uses. If your child says “Mama,” add one more word, such as “Hi Mama” or “Hug Mama.”
  • Read to your child. Sometimes “reading” is simply describing the pictures in a book without following the written words. Choose books that are sturdy and have large colorful pictures that are not too detailed. Ask your child, “What’s this?” and encourage naming and pointing to familiar objects in the book.

Activities to Encourage Speech & Language Development, 2 – 4 Years Old

By Alexa Demyan,

  • Use good speech that is clear and simple for your child to model.
  • Repeat what your child says indicating that you understand. Build and expand on what was said. “Want juice? I have juice. I have apple juice. Do you want apple juice?”
  • Use baby talk only if needed to convey the message and when accompanied by the adult word. “It is time for din-din. We will have dinner now.”
  • Make a scrapbook of favorite or familiar things by cutting out pictures. Group them into categories, such as things to ride on, things to eat, things for dessert, fruits, things to play with. Create silly pictures by mixing and matching pictures. Glue a picture of a dog behind the wheel of a car. Talk about what is wrong with the picture and ways to “fix” it. Count items pictured in the book.
  • Help your child understand and ask questions. Play the yes-no game. Ask questions such as “Are you Marty?” “Can a pig fly?” Encourage your child to make up questions and try to fool you.
  • Ask questions that require a choice. “Do you want an apple or an orange?” “Do you want to wear your red or blue shirt?”
  • Expand vocabulary. Name body parts, and identify what you do with them. “This is my nose. I can smell flowers, brownies, popcorn, and soap.”
  • Sing simple songs and recite nursery rhymes to show the rhythm and pattern of speech.
  • Place familiar objects in a container. Have your child remove the object and tell you what it is called and how to use it. “This is my ball. I bounce it. I play with it.”
  • Use photographs of familiar people and places, and retell what happened or make up a new story.

Stars, Stripes & Kites! Fun Crafts to do this 4th of July Weekend!

By Alexa Demyan,

It’s an exciting time when your child becomes more verbal! During these developmental times, however, some children may show signs of articulation or speech disorders. Articulation is how we make speech sounds using our mouth, lips, and tongue, and teeth. Language refers to the words we understand and how we use them to share ideas and communicate what we want or need.

Using holiday-themed activities is a great way to engage your child and work on articulation and language skills. Check out these fun Independence Day activities to do with your child!

CSHC’s recommended read to accompany your Fourth of July activities:
“Red, White, and Boom” by Lee Wardlaw.

Find this book being read aloud here :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfttBjq6RPA.

Activity Ideas:

  1. Strike up the band!
    Have the kids find everyday items in the house they can use as instruments to “play” for you or a group. Have them march while they play. Household object “instrument” play lends itself to working on:
    1. Symbolic play: Using one object to represent another helps develop language skills because words are symbols. Example: this spoon is a drumstick, this pot is a drum, this toilet paper roll is a horn.
    2. Turn-taking: “I’ll play my instrument and then you’ll play yours!” Taking turns in play helps develop the rhythm of communication.
    3. Concept development: Describing objects and what is happening helps develop concept and vocabulary skills. Examples: big/little pot, quiet/loud playing, fast/slow marching.
    4. Answering “wh” questions:  Who, What, Why, Where. Examples: What did you find to play? Where did you find the spoon? Who wants a spoon?
    5. Developing rhythm/syllables: Tapping out syllables in words or matching rhythms can help the child learn about syllables and the rhythms of speech.
    6. ArticulationSome ideas for words to target are: /s/ blends: start, stop, stick; /g/ go, big, bang; /l/ listen, look, loud, play; /ch, sh/: march, crash, sh!; /r/ drum, crash, ready

2. Create paper bag Fourth of July kites! Follow these simple steps from Fun Loving Families for kites you can fly all weekend long.

Supplies needed for paper bag kites

3. Make Fireworks in a jar!
These fireworks are perfect for all, but especially those who find traditional fireworks to be too loud. Learn more with Chicago Parent.

Photo from Chicago Parent

4.  Make starlight mint fireworks!
Simple and easy crafts are always a hit. Try these mint fireworks again and again using Playdough to Plato‘s instructions.

Photo from Playdough to Plato

Celebrate July 4th with this collection of easy and festive crafts that work on articulation and language! Break out the red, white and blue and bring some of these fun crafts to life with your little one!


Our team is dedicated to sharing fun ideas where children can play and learn all summer. Check out our Pinterest page and Instagram for more fun activities to target speech therapy goals in the home.

Want to receive more activities like this? Join our monthly mailing list! Subscribe here.

If you think your child may be struggling with articulation and language contact us to schedule a speech and hearing evaluation! 614-263-5151 or speech@columbusspeech.org to learn more.

Talk Tips for the Car

By Alexa Demyan,

Summer is here and many families may decide to kick off the season with a family vacation.  Road trips (and plane rides) are a great time to boost your child’s language skills!  Here is a list of fun games that will keep your children from asking the dreaded question, “Are we there yet?”

I Spy: Most people are already familiar with this game in which one player announces the color of something they see and the others players try to guess what it is by asking questions. A fun twist to this game is to only find things that start with a specific sound, or that belong to a specific category, etc. Have fun and be creative!

I’m Going on a Picnic: This classic game is great for building literacy and memory skills. The first player starts off by saying “I’m going on a picnic and I am going to bring…” then adds a food that begins with A. The next player repeats what the first player said and adds on something that begins with B, this continues in sequential order through the alphabet until you have reached the letter Z.

Story-Telling: One passenger starts a story with a single sentence. Then the next person adds a sentence. Continue until you build a complete story.

The Category Game: Take turns choosing topics to list items from, for example, zoo animals, types of candy bars, or occupations. Each person then names something from the given topic until someone can’t think of an item, and then they are “out.” Continue playing until there is only one person left.

The Rhyme Game: Similar to the category game except players think of words that rhyme.

Radio Game: While the radio is off, each player chooses a word. Turn the radio on. The winner is the person whose word is spoken or sung first

Spring Activities for Babies and Toddlers

By Alexa Demyan,

Language: Use the same phrases (“Look! I found a…”) and simple sentences. Use gestures and pointing to help encourage understanding. Label items and pictures (flower, duck) but also describe them (pretty, cold, wet). Encourage following directions (“Give the flower to x.” “Find the little duck”).

Speech: Copy your baby’s sounds in a back and forth manner. Use fun sounds and words (“whee!,” “ooooo,” “ohhhh,” “wow,” “uh oh,” “oh no!”). Try to get face to face as much as possible so your child can see your mouth. Speak slowly, emphasize important words (“The bird is ON the fence!”), stretch out sounds in words (“uuuuuhhhhppp,” “sssssun”) to draw attention to them.

Cognitive/concepts: Talk about WHERE things are (up/down/in/out/on/off), the SIZE of things (big/little), the FEEL of things (wet/dry), COLORS (red, blue, yellow, green), HOW MANY there are (counting, 1, 2, 3, more).

Literacy:  It’s okay to read the same book over and over! Or the same page! This encourages learning through repetition. Follow the words from left to right with your finger as you read. Ask questions (“Where did he go?” “What is the baby doing?”). Make comments (“I see a yellow duck”).  You don’t have to read the book from start to finish, just talk about it, interact with it and your child, and have fun!

Gross motor: Go on a nature scavenger hunt – find leaves, sticks, rocks, flowers, etc. Draw with sidewalk chalk – you can draw out an obstacle course (footsteps to walk on, then lines to jump over, etc.). Crawl through a big box like a tunnel. Roll, bounce, and throw a ball. Take any indoor movement activities OUTSIDE!

Fine motor: Use any nature items (leaves, flowers) to paint. Use a fork to ‘stamp’ the petals of flowers. Use a dropper with watercolors or use markers to draw on coffee filters then clip with a clothes pin to make a butterfly! Fill buckets with different sizes of rocks to move, sort, dump, etc.

Sensory: Take a walk and smell the flowers. Sit/walk in the grass with bare feet. Create a spring bin – fill a small, shallow tray with outdoor items (leaves, grass, flowers, dirt, rocks) and add shovels, scoops, fake bugs, and small pots to dump and fill. Fill a small tub with water and add rubber ducks, rocks, sticks, leaves, etc. Talk about what you and your child are doing as you play!

Music: “Oh where, oh where has my little duck gone?” (to the tune of “Oh where, oh where has my little dog gone?”), “Put the flower on your nose, on your nose. Put the flower on your head, on your head…” (to the tune of “If you’re happy and you know it”), “5 Little Ducks Went Out One Day.”  Hold long ribbons and dance and swirl like the wind.

Social/Emotional: Decorate paper plates with duck/chick/flower faces and talk about emotions (happy, sad, mad, sleepy). Talk about feelings when you read them in a book or story or in real life situations. Label/talk about how your child might be feeling when they don’t have the words to tell you. Stay close when big emotions come but allow your child to calm down before trying to talk with him/her, then talk about the situation.

Happy Spring from Columbus Speech & Hearing Center! 

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s speech and language development, contact Lora McConnell, M.A., CCC-SLP at (614) 261-5462 or lmcconnell@columbusspeech.org.

May Staff Spotlight: Miss Amanda!

By Alexa Demyan,

May’s staff spotlight features Miss Amanda, one of our incredible speech-language pathologists! Amanda has been with the Center since 2019. She has over four years of SLP experience and specializes in articulation, school-age language, and birth-3 years. Her favorite part about being an SLP is building relationships with clients and families as well as watching her clients become more confident in their communication skills. She wants people to know that SLPs help with a variety of communication skills, such as expressive and receptive language and social language skills. Helping with speech sounds is just a part of what speech therapists do!

Miss Amanda’s favorite children’s book is “The Rainbow Fish” by Marcus Pfister. Her favorite therapy games are Critter Clinic and Pop the Pig. The most recent course she has taken is an introduction to The PLAY Project, an evidence-based autism early intervention training resource. Finally, Miss Amanda’s favorite quote is “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

For more information about our Speech team or to schedule an appointment, call (614) 263-5151.

Celebrating Mother’s Day and Better Hearing & Speech Month

By Alexa Demyan,

By Amanda Cifuentes, M.S., CCC-SLP

May is a very exciting month at Columbus Speech & Hearing Center! This month, we are celebrating two things we love – mothers, and Better Hearing & Speech Month! Are you looking for fun ways to celebrate these events while practicing speech and language skills? Look no further; we’ve got you covered.

Mother’s Day

Did you know?  President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation in 1914 stating that Mother’s Day would be celebrated each year on the second Sunday in May!

  • Cards: Practice using complete sentences. This is also a great time to work on vocabulary, such as adjectives describing the moms in your life!
  • Cooking: If you are making a special treat for Mother’s Day, this is a great opportunity to practice sequencing with your child. Before cooking, tell your child what you will do first, next, and last. Talk about what you are doing as you are cooking. Take pictures as you cook and use the pictures to have your child describe the treat-making process to the lucky recipient!
  • Crafts: This is a great opportunity to practice requesting, commenting, and describing. Put necessary items like glue, tape, or markers out of reach, but in sight to encourage your child to request them. Practice naming things you like about each person’s craft. Describe the stickers, ribbon, glitter, and colors of the finished product.

Better Hearing & Speech Month

What is it?  BHSM is a month focused on raising awareness of various communication disorders and the treatment targeted to improve hearing and speech abilities.

    • Make a Communication Collage: Brainstorm the reasons that you are thankful for communication. Are you thankful that you can communicate with friends? Ask for cookies? Tell a joke? Share kind words? Find pictures in magazines that represent reasons you are thankful for communication, cut them out, and make a collage!
    • Communication Connections: Communicating allows us to form and maintain relationships with others. Reach out to someone you care about using your favorite communication method – email, phone call, FaceTime, text, card, picture – whatever is best for you!
    • Learn Something New: Visit our social media pages throughout the month of May to learn how we are celebrating Better Hearing & Speech Month! We’re on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn!

Family-Friendly St. Patrick’s Day Activities at Home!

By Alexa Demyan,

Happy March! As we slowly move toward Spring, many parents are more excited than ever for warm weather and the ability enjoy the outdoors as a family! Because March weather can be unpredictable, we wanted to share are a few activities for speech and language practice that can be done no matter the weather! 

Search for Shamrocks!

Outside: Search for shamrocks, leaves, pine needles, or anything else green! Talk about how these items are similar and different with descriptive language (Is it small, big, soft, hard, shiny, sharp, soft?).

Inside: Do the same activity, but see how many green items you can find in your home. In addition to the descriptions listed above, this might lead to even more descriptive language (Where does it belong in the house? What category is it in? What do you do with it?). 


Make a Rainbow!

Outside: Use chalk to draw a rainbow on the sidewalk or your driveway. While drawing, practice an articulation target word for each color that you use!

Inside: Create a rainbow using whatever craft materials you have at home – maybe use several different materials in one picture! Practice speech sounds while drawing and then hang the rainbows around your house for springtime cheerfulness! 


Do Some Yoga and Notice How You Feel!

Outside or inside, this can be a great way to move your body. Work in some language practice by describing how your body and brain feel when you do yoga! Does your brain feel calm, energized, or relaxed? Does stretching feel good on your arms, legs, back, or neck? 

Check out this site for some St. Patrick’s Day themed yoga poses for kids!

Spring Into Speech and Language Skills!

By Alexa Demyan,

Spring officially arrived on March 20, bringing with it a variety of fun opportunities to practice speech, language, and social skills! Whether you are looking for something to do indoors on a rainy day or outside in the sunshine, there are so many different ways to practice communication skills!

By Amanda Cifuentes

The Speech & Language Evaluation

By Alexa Demyan,

What is a speech-language evaluation?

A speech-language evaluation is the measurement of a person’s communication skills. It is done to gain more understanding of a person’s communication skills and needs. This evaluation is done by a licensed speech-language pathologist.

The speech-language pathologist will review relevant case history information with the client and/or anyone who accompanies them to their evaluation. The case history form will be provided to the client for completion prior to the evaluation. Questions included in the case history form (if relevant) include:

  • Pregnancy and birth history
  • Acquisition of developmental milestones
  • Medical history
  • Family and biographical information (e.g. who lives with the client, is there family history of speech, language or hearing disorders, etc.)
  • Current and previous speech-language skills
  • Reason for requesting the speech-language evaluation
  • School/education history

After the case history information is reviewed, the client will participate in a comprehensive evaluation, which includes a combination of standardized and informal assessments.

What areas may be assessed as part of a speech-language evaluation at Columbus Speech & Hearing Center?

  • Expressive language (how a person uses language to communicate)
  • Receptive language (how a person understands language)
  • Articulation and Apraxia (the accuracy and intelligibility of spoke communication)
  • Stuttering and Fluency (speaking smoothly and without effort)
  • Social Engagement and Interaction (how a person plays, interacts and/or communicates with others)
  • Phonemic Awareness (the ability to recognize and manipulate the spoken parts of words)
  • Hearing Screening (depending on their age and medical history)

What happens after the evaluation?

The evaluating speech-language pathologist will step out of the treatment room for a few minutes to score the assessment(s) and gather any relevant handouts and resources. They will review the results of the evaluation and share their recommendations with the client and/or anyone who accompanies the client to the evaluation. The client and/or their caregiver will be given a Quick Summary Speech-Language Evaluation Sheet that summarizes the evaluation results and recommendations covered by the speech-language pathologist. If speech therapy is recommended, the speech-language pathologist will take the client to the business office to speak with one of our schedulers.

In a few weeks, a thorough speech and language evaluation will be sent to the client, which will include:

  • Case history information and reason for referral
  • The results of all standardized and informal assessments
  • A speech-language diagnosis, if applicable
  • Recommendations
  • Referrals, if applicable
  • Treatment goals, if applicable

Adapted from PRO-ED, Inc. 1988