Using Eggs to Elicit Language

Using eggs to elicit language in toddlers | Early intervention therapy

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I used this activity over and over again with my first client. Although not a toddler, this activity was still appropriate and we made great progress towards our goals. This is so easy and inexpensive to set up. I was able to find some great manipulatives at Michael’s, Oriental Trading Company, and Target. Then, I grabbed an empty egg carton from my house. Easy!

Eliciting language in toddlers or young children with a limited vocabulary can be difficult. This activity is easy to set up initially, then it’s easy to throw in your speech bag and go!

***This should be common sense, but: If you are doing this activity with small children, these items can be choking hazards. Choose larger items or fabric items for kids who put things in their mouths. Use your best judgement!***

What you’ll Need:

  • A clean, sturdy egg carton
  • Small manipulatives (recommendations below)
  • Plastic easter eggs (this link is for Dollar Tree, but check out Oriental Trading Company)

These eggs are available on Amazon for a pretty reasonable price:


    1. Find manipulatives that you can elicit language from (ideas below). Fill the eggs with one manipulative each.
    2. Fill the egg carton with eggs.

Using this in Therapy:
      1. Say, “Knock, knock, knock!” slowly. Wait for your client to imitate you. If he doesn’t, that’s okay.
      2. Say, “Open,” with the sign for open on the carton. Watch a video HERE.
      3. Ask your client to pick one. If she’s grabby, cover up most of the eggs. After she picks, CLOSE THE CARTON!
      4. Say, “Pink egg,” or whatever color, and sign egg (video HERE).
      5. If he needs help, sign “Help” and ask if he needs help (video HERE).
      6. Open the egg and talk about what is inside. Examples: “A sheep! Sheep says ‘Baa.’ Sheep.” Or, “Spider! Eek! Itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout, down came the rain and washed the spider out…” As you can see, I had french fries in one of my eggs. We would pretend to eat them up or match them with the mini cheeseburger in one of the other eggs. The possibilities are endless!
      7. Repeat steps 1-6 until you run out of eggs. I liked having a basket or bucket nearby to toss the empty eggs in. My supervisor liked to put hers back in the carton as they went through the eggs. You can do it however you like.

Using eggs to elicit language in toddlers | Early intervention therapy

This is such a great way to expose your client to easy signs (help, open, egg, please, more), as well as repeated language. Use those buildups and breakdowns!


Okay, here’s the big list of suggestions for what to put inside those eggs!

For Toddlers:
      • Michael’s and the Dollar Tree have mini erasers in the kids craft sections (that’s where the sheep and french fries pictured came from; I also got a cow, pig, horse, burger, hot dog, and a pizza). These are not the exact ones, but similar HERE. I got mine at Michael’s in a 4-pack for $1.00! Dollar Tree also has some HERE. I would check in-store if you can.
      • Amazon also has some of these mini erasers. There are a few different animal options HERE, HERE, and HERE.
      • Michael’s also carries Toob brand small figures. They are usually in the kids section. I also wait until I have a 40% off one item coupon because they never go on sale! Here are some of my favorites to use in the eggs: Pets, Bugs, Fruits and Veggies, and Farm Animals.
      • Spider rings are great! Stock up at the Dollar Tree around Halloween, or get some off Amazon.
      • Barbie clothes! Shoes, shirt, pants, hat, and socks are all good vocabulary words. This set has a ton of clothes as well as a brush, dishes, utensils, and more. The thrift store or eBay are also good places to check for small doll clothes.
What to do:
      • For farm animals, it’s always fun to sing songs like Old McDonald or Baa Baa Black Sheep.
      • As I mentioned above, I like to sing Itsy Bitsy Spider when we find the spider.
      • Teach the ASL sign for each manipulative. Keep it simple, such as fish for whale or dolphin, eat for foods, shoes for any type of shoe (no sandals or boots, we’re trying to start simple here!).
      • Teach animal sounds (“Cow says, ‘Moo.'”)

Using eggs to elicit language in toddlers | Early intervention therapy

For kids a little older:
      • I would fill it with mostly the same stuff, with the exception of artic/phono kids. I would consider putting in objects like a top, a letter T, etc. if we were working /t/, or a small cup, a cat, a car, etc. for /k/. You get the point!
      • Play matching! I said above we would match the french fries to the burger. You could also group all farm animals, all pets, all foods.
      • Print out small photo cards for targets that don’t fit in an egg.

Last idea: One of my colleagues used eggs to sort parts of speech. I forget which colors meant what, but she had something like pink=noun, blue=adjective, green=verb, and yellow=preposition. Her client would build a sentence or sort parts of the sentence.

You can do SO much with a dozen eggs! How do you use eggs in your therapy room?

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