Play-Based Activities to Promote Speech Sounds

Bored with flashcards and speech "homework"? Us too!


Try these play-based activities to support early-developing sounds.


For /m/

  • While playing in the kitchen, talk about the yummy food: "The apple is yummy. Mmmmmm!"
  • Throw a ball back and forth while targeting "mmmmmy turn!"
  • While playing with farm animals, emphasize the cow sounds: "mmmmmoo!"
  • Play with a baby doll and pretend she wants her "mama"


For /p/

  • While blowing bubbles, practice stomping on the bubbles to "pop" them.
  • While cooking in the kitchen (or playing in a play kitchen), talk about all the things you will "put" in the "pot" for soup.
  • Pretend all the children are "puppies" and talk about the different colors and sizes of all the "puppies".
  • Make pies with sensory materials (sand, play doh, etc.).  Talk about all the flavors of "pie".

play-based activities for speech development

For /b/

  • While running on the playground, sneak up on each other and say "boo!"
  • Play with cars and trucks, while practicing "beep beep!" Make them crash and practice "boom!"
  • Pretend you are going on a long trip.  Pack up all your things and practice saying "bye" to all your friends.
  • Play with a baby doll while targeting words like "bath", "baba", "baby", and "bib".


For /n/

  • Act out "No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed!" Emphasize "No."
  • Practice putting baby dolls or children to bed; don't forget to say "night night!"
  • Pull things out of a sensory bin and ask the child, "Is this a ____?" (The sillier the better!) And let the child answer, "Nnnnnnooooo!"
  • Play freeze dance by turning the lights "onnnnn" and off. You can also use day and "night."


play with cars to target speech sounds

For /t/

  • Play "Time Too..." (like Simon Says.) "Time to... (jump, freeze, spin, etc.)"
  • Throw a ball while practicing "my turn" or "turn"
  • Have a tea party and take turns pouring each other tea. "More tea?"
  • Do a song or rhyme about "toes" (e.g., This Little Piggy) and talk about everyone's toes.


For /d/

  • Play "duck, duck, goose."
  • Take turns jumping up and "ducking" or going "down".
  • Practice putting clothes on a doll.  The "doll" needs his _____.
  • Play with dot markers or dot stickers.  Talk about adding "dots" to a picture.


Shanna Klump is a speech-language pathologist and CEO of Kid Connections Therapy, a speech/language therapy clinic in Severna Park, Maryland.