Loonie Language Lessons: Using Dollar Store Items to Target SLP Goals

Regular and consistent home-practice, as recommended by your child’s speech-language pathologist, is the key to their success. Educational resources can often be costly but speech and language practice doesn’t need to be expensive at all! I visited my local Dollarama to look for some examples of how far one dollar can take your language lessons and I have shared just a small sample of what I found!

Waterproof finger puppets: There are plenty of activities that can make bath time fun and educational!

  • Use them to teach animal vocabulary
  • Help the little ones with their sound repertoire by practicing animal noises (e.g. “ee ee ah ah” for a monkey and “neigh” for a horse)
  • Sing songs and encourage your child to sing along. Repetitive songs like Old MacDonald provide many opportunities for your child to fill in the blanks
  • Sit on the bathroom floor to be at eye level with one another


Playdoh: This is always a favourite amongst preschoolers and even school-age children. The possibilities are endless!

  • Talk about colours, shapes, numbers and any vocabulary that corresponds with whatever you are sculpting
  • Practice social language as you work together and share. E.g. “Can you pass the green Playdoh please?” or “Let’s work together and use your colours and my colours to make a rainbow!”
  • Model and practice new sounds. For example, roll the Playdoh into a snake and practice the “s” sound as you slither and say “sssss.” Make a train and practice “ch” in “choo choo”
  • Playing with Playdoh is also a good way to practice fine motor skills and promote creativity


Greenhouse seed starter-kit: How about teaching language through gardening? Dollarama sells kits that include soil, seeds and pots

  • Teach verbs pertaining to the action of growing and nurturing plants (to dig, to sow, to bury, to water, to feed)
  • Discuss vocabulary relating to plants (seed, root, stem, leaf, petal)
  • Practice prepositions by talking about putting the seed in the soil, putting the cup beside the window
  • Discuss the colours that you see, the number of leaves or petals on the plant, and the various shapes that you can spot
  • Practice sequencing by discussing the steps required to grow a plant (first you dig a hole, then you put the seed in the hole, then you pour water on top, last it turns into a flower)
  • Take photos of your plant at every stage of the process to use as visuals for future learning


Building blocks

  • Use blocks to practice many of the concepts discussed above (numbers, colours, shapes, prepositions)
  • Work on following directions by asking your child to follow a simple 1-step instruction (e.g. “put the blue block on the table”) or make it a bit more challenging by increasing it to two steps (e.g. “put the blue block on the table then put the orange block on the blue block”)
  • Practice requesting by holding a few different coloured blocks in your hands and encouraging them to use their words to tell you which one they want


Books: Last but definitely not least!

  • Much before your child learns to read, it is important that they develop early-literacy skills. These can include looking at the pictures and print in a storybook, turning the pages, and retelling the story through memorization
  • Try to have lots of books available, and ensure that reading is a positive experience for your child

If you have an activity in mind but your child is not into it, follow their lead instead. You’ll never get language from them without interest and motivation, so it’s important to always observe and notice what and how your child likes to play, and go with it! When children are engaged, they will be much more likely to participate in language learning. Perhaps take them to your nearest dollar store, ask them to pick something out, and challenge yourself to find a way to include it in their language learning. Do you have any Dollarama activity ideas? If so, we would love to hear from you!

Katelyn Sirrs, M.Sc, Speech-Language Pathologist, Reg. CASLPO