When I was still working in the schools, I did preschool evaluations weekly for 7 years. These are my top picks for toys that worked best for speech and language preschool evaluations.
Best Toys for Preschoolers
Here is what I look for when picking specific toys to use in speech and language preschool evaluations. I make sure to pick toys that have :
- Novelty to the students
- Topics that are familiar so they can share their skills (vocab, prior knowledge)
- Easy to clean/store
- Easy to target variety of goals (a variety from cause/effect up to pretend play)
- Lasts forever
The toys listed below are all affiliate links which means that I receive a small commission for researching and recommending them to you (at NO extra cost to you!)
The first three toys on the list are perfect for pretend play. This dog academy can be as basic or complex as you need to use it for. It can be as simple as putting the dogs in and out of the house. For more complexity, children can explain what an obstacle course is and then create one themself. I love this toy for speech and language evaluations for so many different reasons. First off, it’s amazing for using prepositions. Next, most kids have never seen it so they are immediately intrigued and engaged when I pull it out. Finally, it stores very easily in a plastic container! In my opinion it’s well worth the higher price because I pull out some of these pieces to individually use with other speech and language activities throughout the year.
Next up is this doll-size washing machine set. This toy is super unique because most kids have not played with it but have helped their parents with laundry. I love this kid’s washing machine set for evaluations because you can easily work on following directions, vocabulary and sequencing. I have a couple pieces of Barbie clothes from when I was younger that I use with this set! The other really cool thing about this preschool toy is that since it is so small, I can actually see if there are any fine motor concerns as well and make a note to let the OT or teacher know.
I got this blue one from Wal-Mart!
Are there any kids out there who don’t love ice cream? Very few I would say, so when I pull this toy out, it’s always a big hit! This play ice cream counter is great for preschool evaluations because food routines are very familiar for children. Using this helps give me a good idea of their vocabulary for familiar topics. In addition, there are so many verbs and prepositions you can focus on with this one. Put the chocolate on top of the vanilla. Can you make me a strawberry ice cream cone? Can I have whipped cream on top please?
Finally, what I love about this particular toy is it is very easy to see what level of play the child is at.
The next toys on this list work really well for the higher needs population. The price on these cannot be beat. Kids can stack them, bang them or use them like cups or bowls for a higher level of play. The best part-they turn into balls! It’s like two toys in one. Kids love this one because it’s very different and they usually don’t have these kind at home.
I’ve noticed that toys that make noise are usually a favorite for the high needs student population. This toy is great for preschool evaluations because it grabs your cause and effect lover’s attention quickly! The hammer on the music part is always a crowd favorite.
It also helps me see a student’s level of problem-solving skills, matching, spatial relationships and critical thinking.
Farm animals for sounds and play are always a favorite. This is different that a typical barn with animals which is what makes it more engaging for young children. You put in or take out the animal for more of a hide and seek type game. I like to start with having the animals in the barn and letting them reach in and pull them out one by one with excitement.
This set comes with 2 ducks, 2 cows, 2 horse and 2 pigs. Since there are two of each animal, you can work on mama-baby talk for animal pairs as well. Finally, this toy is nice and small for storage.
The last toy on this list is sort of like a bonus toy. This is seriously the best bubble gun I have ever used! I don’t think I have ever come across a student who fails to get excited with bubbles! Sometimes I entice kids with this first to show them that we have fun in my room or end our therapy evaluation on a fun note by using this! This bubble gun is powerful and shoots 5,000 bubbles per minute so be careful! You may want to try it outside first. It also has LED lights which just makes it way more fun than regular bubble guns! I have even turned off my lights at times and used it for fun that way.
Preschool SLP Play-Based Assessment
When I evaluate preschoolers for speech and language, I always use a play-based assessment. With the evaluation forms that I use, it’s extremely important to me that I use parent friendly terms when going over the results. It’s also helpful for parents to see the ready-made cheat sheet for different milestones that their child should be hitting.
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