Exercises for Stimulating Language in 1- and 2-year-olds

Early stimulation of language is important in infants and toddlers. In this article, we'll suggest a variety of exercises for stimulating language in 1- and 2-year-olds.
Exercises for Stimulating Language in 1- and 2-year-olds
Mara Amor López

Written and verified by the psychologist Mara Amor López.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Stimulating language in 1- and 2-year-olds is important when it comes to the correct development of language. Before looking at what activities to utilize, we must first understand that language includes two subtypes. These are expressive language, and comprehensive language.

In the article below, you’ll find different types of exercises for stimulating language, both expressive and comprehensive, in 1- and 2-year-olds. Are you ready to find out what they are? Let’s go!

Exercises for stimulating language in 1- and 2-year-olds: Comprehensive language

We can compare language to a warehouse of ideas, concepts, and meanings. From the time we’re born, we begin organizing and classifying language as if words were books in a library. In this sense, when we listen, we organize and add these ideas to our warehouse (language comprehension). And we do the same thing when we express ourselves and communicate (expressive language).

To begin to understand stories and books, we can use different exercises with small children. So, let’s take a look:

Pointing to pictures

For this exercise, you can use photographs, flashcards, picture books, etc. Then, ask children questions so that they can point to different images. You can use drawings of colors, animals, everyday items, etc. That way, we can discover which words children have already learned and reinforce those they haven’t.

Exercises for Stimulating Language in 1- and 2-year-olds

Onomatopoeias for stimulating language in 1- and 2-year-olds

When children are still small and have a hard time remembering words, onomatopoeias can be very helpful. For example, we can use different sounds to refer to things like animals… “Ruff-ruff” for dogs, “meow-meow” for cats, “baaaa” for sheep, etc.


Show children two different pictures. One of these pictures should contain a word they already know, and the other a word they don’t know. For example, motorcycle and car. Then, ask children which is the car (assuming “car” is the word they already know). Then, explain that the other picture is a motorcycle. By doing so, you’ll incorporate the unfamiliar word into their vocabulary.

Exercises for stimulating language in 1- and 2-year-olds: Expressive language

Even before children begin speaking, there are many ways in which they display this kind of language. For example, through glances, sounds, pointing, etc. Therefore, we can work on expressive language even before children talk. Here are a few options that you can put into practice with little ones:

Simulate a telephone call

A child’s first attempts at talking can be pretty difficult to understand. However, it’s important to encourage them to try, even if you don’t know what they’re saying. One way to do so is by pretending to have a telephone conversation with them.

Imitate sounds

Some children have a hard time imitating and repeating words at first. In this case, you can play games involving imitating sounds. For example, you can let children initiate the game – waiting for them to make a noise and then repeating it yourself. Or, you can make a noise and encourage them to imitate it.


When you explain something, it’s important to accompany your words with gesturesFor example, by using facial expressions, hand gestures, or acting. That way, children will imitate you in order to express themselves.

Look them in the eye

Each time you talk or communicate with little ones, be sure to look them in the eyes. It’s a good idea to get down to their level in order to make proper eye contact. This is the first step in communicating correctly.

Exercises for Stimulating Language in 1- and 2-year-olds


Blowing is an excellent way of stimulating language in 1- and 2-year-olds. For example, you can make paper boats to play with during bathtime. Just place them in the water and have your child blow to make them move. You can also blow to make bubbles or to make a pinwheel turn. Doing so helps exercise the muscles that are involved in speech production.

Play with a toy microphone

There are certain toy microphones that reproduce eco sounds when children talk into them. Since little ones find them extremely fun and interesting, they’re more likely to try to speak. You can incorporate them into your playtime so they can hear themselves talk.

I spy

For older children (age 2), this game can be really fun. And, at the same time, it’s very beneficial when it comes to expanding their vocabulary. The game consists of choosing an object in sight and saying “I spy with my little eye something…” and finishing the sentence with an adjective. Then, based on this clue, children have to identify the object.

Conclusion regarding exercises for stimulating language in 1- and 2-year-olds

As you can see, these exercises for stimulating language in 1- and 2-year-olds are very beneficial. Not only are they a lot of fun, but they also prepare children for language production in the near future. Each of the above activities stimulates little ones and makes it easier for them to acquire and also produce language. Don’t hesitate to try any one of these activities with your little one.


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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.