When A Toddler Doesn’t Play With Toys…teachmetotalk.com’s Therapy Tip of the Week 4.9.16


Isn’t it frustrating when a toddler doesn’t seem to want to play with toys? This is a fairly common issue in young children with developmental delays. Our first instinct may be to think that the child doesn’t like the toy (or any toy!), but that’s usually not the problem. Listen as I explain what’s really going on and teach you the perfect place to start to help a child learn to play with toys.

It’s a strategy called DECONSTRUCTION and it’s a powerful way to help a toddler begin to play with toys. You can use it with virtually any toy or activity as a starting point when play isn’t coming naturally for a child.

Links I mentioned in the video:


#283 – Developing Early Play Skills – FREE Podcast that explains the strategy of deconstruction in detail AND takes you on to the next step for a child who is learning to play with toys

Toys PERFECT for Deconstruction


Here’s the one I showed in the video. It’s wooden and durable – a winner!

Here’s the Fisher Price original:

My FAVORITE stacker because it lights up and plays music. It’s a GREAT option for teaching object permanence too – cover the toy after you’ve activated the music. The lights and music teach a child to look for the toy even if they can’t readily see it – the foundation of developing cognitive skills.


Wooden blocks are a classic toy with so many possibilities for early play and advancing to pretend play when a child is developmentally ready.


I own an embarrassing number of wooden puzzles, but they are GOLD when it comes to teaching language. They’re also a PERFECT place to start to help a child by using deconstruction. Here are a few of my favorites with great vocabulary choices for late talking toddlers and preschoolers.

Mr. Potato Head

I collect these sets and use them every single day. Here are a couple of choices for you from basic (if you’re just getting this for your child) or a bigger set if you too want more options for vocabulary development.

THERAPY TIP OF THE WEEK – BOOKS – How to modify a book like the one I used in the video

My FAVORITE board books for modifying are below. Remember – this works best with cardboard books! Paper pages will tear…save yourself the heartache and frustration : )

I love this one, but don’t use it to teach colors. Focus on the WORDS to name the pictures.

I’m ordering this one TODAY!

Last one – a favorite for toddlers who like to push buttons! Help them move toward looking at books with this one.



  1. Barbara on April 9, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    Brilliant!!!! I kept buying toys thinking my son’s not interested. While I tried to get him to build all he wanted to do was destroy. That’s play too!!

    Laura, you are a life saviour.

  2. mona sallam on April 9, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    excellent video

  3. Deepika on April 9, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    Ur videos are really really helpful..The way u speak z inspirational n so motivating dat everytime I see ur videos r books it always shows dat some body z always dere to help my child……hav alot to learn frm u….always eagerly wait fr ur mails.

  4. Becca on April 9, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    Hi Laura! I just found your site today and you have already given me some incredible tips for working with my son who has developmental delays and speech delays (possibly aphasia). Thank you so much! I am looking forward to trying some of these ideas with him!

  5. Kyler Brown on May 3, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    I have a daughter who doesn’t seem to want to play with toys. I appreciated this post, and the strategy of deconstruction. I can see how this would be a powerful way to help toddler’s begin to play with toys. Thanks for sharing this.

  6. Susan wood on October 3, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    I am so glad I found you and your site. We have a special little girl and can’t afford all the different therapies the cdsa suggested. Now I have hope I can help her myself. Thank you so much

  7. Katherine on October 21, 2016 at 11:10 am

    Thank you very much for your suggestions! I am definitely going to try this strategy out with one of the toddlers I work with!

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