Trash or Treasure?

Well this is going to be a more personal blog post. (These are my views only).  Being a speech pathologist means  you love toys and using them in lots of different ways to motivate your clients.  But it also means PLASTIC.  And of course most of us are worried about climate change.  So where does that leave a toy-loving, economy friendly and value packed clinic?

This is a dilemma I have been wrestling with for a while now.  Certainly you can buy more eco-friendly (wood, recycled etc) toys which is a good choice and often more durable.  However as my own family grows up and the toys in our home accumulate dust I realise how MUCH we have that can be re-used.  I don’t need to run out and buy more DinkyDoodads or other plastic nicknacks when I have so much of it already.  I probably shouldn’t have bought so much plastic in the first place but at least I can recycle it now and have lots of children get value out of it.

So what is junk exactly and is it really junk?

The Lego Masters TV show has inspired our home to get out the Lego again.  I am sure we are not alone in having big tubfuls of it!  Whilst my husband and son build it, I sort through it and glean all of my own treasures…. Most of it is Lego but also so many other little bits have strayed into the boxes that I know I can use.  Marbles, rocks, Kinder Surprise, figures, cars, wheels… It’s all in those tubs and I am alphabetising it for use in articulation, literacy and other areas of our clinical work.  Have you noticed Lego figures have capes, hats, helmets, wigs?  Also they have shovels, keys, flags, shields, bones and whatever else your set may have included.  Lego men themselves are incredibly motivating for articulation work.

Stay tuned for the next post on recycling.

My other helper….








Mini Match-Ups !

Matching games are great for so many reasons.  Young children love to match pictures to real objects and it is a great way to learn new words.  If you have some mini versions of grocery items you can make up some  interactive games.  Check out our board games you can download for free!

Shopping games are fun with a cash register or trolley/bag.

Basic bingo games for real matching can be fun.

Why not use a packing list to put all the items in a suitcase or backpack for a toy campervan, car or similar?

You can order sandwiches and drinks from a cafe menu.  Set up the cafe and feed some of the toys.

Download your games here!



Here are 2 examples below –

























Uber Eats in our Waiting Room

Our waiting room always has a Role-Play theme.  Not only does it make waiting fun, but it can kickstart some ideas for playtime at home.

Today we have another food theme – takeaway or delivery food.

You can order from the Menu – sushi, salad, hamburger, chips or pizza.

Do you want takeaway or delivery?

Use the play phone to order your food and pay with some play money / card.

The food can be put in a brown bag for delivery.

The delivery guy can dress up as a chef or with a delivery bag.

These are all good role play ideas for developing imaginative play at home.  Depending on your child’s age, there are many vocabulary items you can practice – phone, menu, more cheese etc!

Download some signs to put up at your house! (or clinic room)



What about the toys?  You can either recycle your pizza boxes, containers etc.

Or KMart has the sushi set and hamburger/chips set as pictured.  The salad is a felt play set from IKEA.

7 DIY Toys for Language


Were not very crafty at Babychatter!!  So you will never find anything here which requires sewing skills, artistic/drawing skill or involves lots of time.  Playing with toddlers has the advantage that they aren’t very picky about how nicely or accurately you have cut or drawn a picture!

Below is a list of toys you can make from things around the home .  Prompt Words are also included.  These DIY toys are cheap and easy to make.  Don’t forget to involve your toddler in the making of it too, as that can also be a great time to learn new words.

1. Car Wash

diy carwash You will need an old spray bottle, tub of bubbles, sponge and cars.

All toddlers love squirting with spray bottles!  Get out a tub of soapy water and start a car wash using a sponge and the spray.

Words  – wet, wash cars,  spray it,  squirt, clean now!



2.  Farm House

Make your own farm activity for website You will need a cardboard box, paint, sticky tape.

You can make a barn for all the animals with a small cardboard box.  Just sticky tape the roof together and cut some doors on the side.  You can paint it too if you like! Your toddler can have great fun driving the tractor in and out of the barn and putting the animals in.

Words –  door, drive car, horse in,  close doors.



3.  Washing Machine


You will need a cardboard box, old soap box, pegs and clothes.

Cut a round hole in a box (for the door to open) and then draw on some control buttons.  Your toddler can use an empty soap box to pour in the soap and then put all the clothes in the box.  You can use your toddlers clothes or doll clothes.  Then peg the clothes on a string or your clothes rack.

Words  – sock, shirt, wash the skirt, take out



4. Cars & Roads


You will need chalk, cars, boxes, leaves, pebbles.

Draw some roads on your pavement outside and set up a town!  You can add trees (leaves/twigs), garages (plastic box), stop signs and anything else you find outside.  You and your toddler can drive the cars around on the road, stopping and starting or crashing into each other!  You can use large push vehicles or smaller matchbox cars depending on your childs age.

Words –  stop, go, push car,  its crashed!

5.  Oven

DIY Stove

You will need a cardboard box, paper plates, pot, spoon and recycled food containers.

Set up a kitchen stove/oven by glueing some paper plates to the top of a cardboard box.  Then you can give your toddler some kitchen utensils to do some cooking.   A small pot and wooden spoon can get it started.  Its always nice to add some recycled food containers (egg cartons, cereal boxes, milk cartons) which your child can use in his cooking.

Words –  hot, stir it, I’m cooking, yummy pasta.

6.  Boat for the bath

bathgames You will need a plastic yoghurt/dip container, kebab stick and paper.

Home made boats for the bath are great fun. All you need to do is put some paper on a kebab stick and then stick this to a plastic container.  Put some little people in the boat and float them in the bath.

Words –  boat, push it, boat sinking, all wet.

7. Junk Mail


You will need junk mail, glue and paper.

Does your toddler like helping you collect the junk mail from the letter box?  Look through it with him and when he points out something interesting, you can cut it out and glue it on a piece of paper.  Sometimes you can make up a little homemade book stapled together with lots of different clothes or foods.

Words –  cut, look, stick on, more pictures.


I went into Officeworks this week and was surprised by how many new alphabet games you can now buy there!

There are posters, workbooks, games and letters to use in a variety of ways in speech therapy.  Lots of choice for stick on letters, playdough cutter letters and glitter letters too!!

1.  Orchard Toys Alphabet Lotto

A great game for practicing the alphabet sounds and learning initial sound identification.

orchard toys alphabet game









2. Alphabet Charts

Stick them on your wall to create a way of talking about what sounds the letters make.











3. My Alphabet Workbook

Cut and paste pictures into this scrap book for words beginning with a special sound.










4. Melissa and Doug Alphabet Jigsaw and Magnetic Letters

This is a good quality brand you can use again and again.

melissadoug magnetic letters








5. Match & Spell

For children learning how to blend or sound out words in those early reading days.  Also great for learning sounds in speech work.

orchard toys match and spell