Speech and Language Development Through Play: Puzzles

Enrichment Therapies

May 1, 2017

By: Megan Van Laar, M.A., CCC-SLP

There is a multitude of skills that can be addressed while playing with various toys.  In my next several blog posts, I plan to provide some ideas on how to incorporate speech and language development while playing with each of these toys.  First up: Puzzles!!


Children have many opportunities to produce target speech sounds while playing with puzzles.  For example, if your child is working on the /k/ sound, he could say, “Can I have another piece?” each time he puts a piece in the puzzle.  Or if she is working on the /l/ sound, she could say “Let’s put in another one.”  If your child is not yet at the level of putting his speech sounds into sentences, he could simply say the sound in isolation 3 times or in a single word before receiving the next piece of the puzzle.


Expressive Language- Before receiving each piece of the puzzle, your child could sign/say a request such as ‘more’ or ‘please’.  If she is working on combining two or three words together, she could say “more piece please” or “I want more”.  In addition, puzzles are a great opportunity to build vocabulary by talking about the objects in the puzzle, their size, shape, color, function, location, and anything else you can think of!  Finally, if your child is struggling to fit the piece in just right, encourage him to ask for help.

Receptive Language- Children can be asked to follow directions while putting puzzles together.  For example, you could describe a piece for your child to select (“find the long, green vegetable” or “find the piece that is all black with a little bit of blue” or “find the big, red truck that goes very fast”).  You could also instruct your child where to place each piece (“try putting that piece under that piece” or “put it next to that piece”).  You could also ask your child to put one piece in before or after another or you could say “put the firetruck in first, the sailboat in second, and the plane in third“.

For more speech and language ideas to incorporate during play, stay tuned for my upcoming blogs!

Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech-language therapy and tutoring as well as offering small group academic programs.  At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success.  Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed


740 Community Drive, Unit A

North Liberty, IA 52317



5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300

Johnston, IA 50131


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