Play & Learn Educational Toys: Walkie Talkie

play learn educational toys walkie talkie
play learn educational toys walkie talkie

Let's Talk Walkie Talkies

 FOCUS: Walkie Talkies 

Speech Therapist      Dr Sandra McMahon PhD

If you are wanting children to talk then a toy that is ALL about TALKING has to be a winner. Kids love the mystery and feeling like they have a secret way to talk. This is a great indoor and outdoor toy. Play hide and seek around the house or at the park.  They can copy their super heroes, pretend to be police, fireman or the mysterious voice heard in shopping centres! They often have interesting buttons too! Nowadays they come in all different versions – old fashion Walkie Talkies, pretend watch Walkie Talkies or toy mobile phones. 


With new toys it is always great to watch what children do without any directions or suggestions! (if safe of course). What do they do? What sounds, exclamations or words to they make? Do they recognise it? Do they just listen or to they make sounds/ say words too.

play learn educational toys walkie talkie

Communicating with others

Learning social interactional skills can take time. Modelling, what to do and saying things they can copy, is a great way to build game resilience. Walkie Talkies are great to encourage the following skills:

Building Early 

Conversational Skills

My turn to speak / your turn to speak or listen. This is the foundation of conversations. This is how Walkie Talkies work! Many late talkers do not respond when asked a question. They may show you things with pointing or their bodies but do not always start a "conversation".

If you are in one room with your child and maybe Daddy is in another room – then pointing isn’t going to work! You can say “but Daddy can’t see you! Let’s say Hi! etc.). Some children might make lots of noises and words that don’t always make sense – encouraging them to stop and listen encourages then to particulate in both sides of a conversation. 

Turn - Taking Skills

As noted the whole concept of Walkie Talkies is that people take turns to listen and talk. They are not fun if you want to do all the talking or nobody is waiting to hear you.

understanding of language comes before talking

If you want to encourage talking skills one of the foundation pre-speech skills is “auditory attention”. Children’s hearing might be fine but it doesn’t mean they are good at “listening”. Our FREE AUDITORY ATTENTION ONLINE SCREEN looks at whether children are building auditory attention skills. "Really listening" is important for learning.

​By the nature of Walkie talkies, if you are not in the room, children cannot “guess” what you are asking them. Often parents accidentally give clues by looking or pointing at things rather than encouraging toddlers to use their “listening skills” (e.g. asking them to give you the book – when it’s bed time and you’re also reaching for the book doesn’t mean they are listening to your request for the book – they could be just “guessing” what you want). ​

play learn educational toys walkie talkie

​If you are in another room and ask “bring me a book” – there are no clues. This can be a fun game. One adult is in a room and says can you bring me a “pencil” and the child can excitedly run it to them then back to see what they will ask for next. Have another adult with younger children or those that may need help to “listen” to the request. This adult can encourage them to listen to the request and follow through with the instruction. Start with really easy requests– just call their name through the Walkie talkie and encourage them to make some kind of vocal response (an exclamation! Oh! a laugh, a Hi). Reward them by getting excited ("wow I can hear you! You laughed!!!). The requests or instructions can also get more and more complex (e.g. “Can you bring me something you cuddle at night”, Find a ball and superman”).

​The use of Walkie Talkies can also help with Cause & Effect skills. This is another pre-speech foundation skill. This refers to building an understanding that “what I say and do will impact on things or people”. Playing the hide and seek by using the age old game “hot” and “cold” can help the child learn to infer if they are close or not by the “clue” given through the Walkie talkie. You could be hiding or you could hide a treat or snack. The child has to listen to see if they are “hot “or “cold” depending on where they go.​

spoken Speech & Language

Toys like the walkie talkie are great for encouraging  vocalisations – sometimes it might just be a grunt as they experiment with talking “into” the device. A giggle or a silly noise. All should be encourage as once vocalisations are made you can shape them into words.

For Children not really saying words, imitation is an important real key skill to develop. Some children might imitate physical actions but just not spoken words. Our FREE IMITATION SKILLS ONLINE SCREEN can indicate what imitation skills your child is using. This can inform you how to adapt your walkie talkie game to get the most out of the toy.

*Encourage them imitate your actions Pushing buttons, listen then talk

*Encourage them to copy Exclamations: OOH (when they hear a noise), beeeep when device indicates there is someone talking

*Imitating funny noises – aarrrh (like a pirate), blowing into the device

*Imitating animal noises – you could incorporate this into the finding gain describe above – you could have a box of toy animals and say “get the Mooooo” –What are you looking for it a baa or a mooo?

Building new words & Sentences

Take a look in the “understanding section” and encourage the child to repeat back the instruction before they do it. Incorporate into the game that they “check” they heard by saying it too. Where did I say I was? “you tell me ‘in kitchen’).

For children using little sentences you can encourage early questions in the above hide and seek games (e.g., Are you in the ____; Is it big? Where is the ball?). Learning to use questions can really reduce that whinging and tantrums. If they can “ask for what they want” the whinging can really go down (even if it’s a simple form e.g. Where Teddy?). 

Speech Therapist      Dr Sandra McMahon PhD

Walkie Talkies are great for early narrative or story telling too. You can encourage them to give a blow by blow description of what they can see or are doing e.g., Tell me what you can see in the park/ in your room/ etc.).  

Speech TherapistDr Sandra McMahon PhD

Pretend play can build talking skills. Let’s pretend there is a fire. You sit here with the fire engine. Wait to see where the fire is. You can then call the “fireman” to tell them the fire is in the TV room – they can ask some questions e.g. is it a big fire, is the TV on fire or the lounge?) and come with their toy fire engine to “put out the fire”. If you swap roles you can model good examples of language. Even if their talking is limited reduce to down to “go, go truckie” or even just the “fire engine sound” as their way of telling you the fire engine is coming.

Speech TherapistDr Sandra McMahon PhD

And let’s not forget vocabulary – all the in, on, under, "next to" kinds of words can be incorporated into walkie talkie play. As you can’t use pointing as much the importance of these words are exaggerated! It is "under the couch, next to the tap" etc.

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