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Fun with Potato Head: How Self-Talk and Parallel Talk Can Boost Language Development

Potato Head, the beloved toy with interchangeable parts, has been a staple in many households for generations. Did you know that playing with Potato Head can also be a fantastic opportunity to promote your child's language development? In this blog post, we'll explore two powerful techniques: self-talk and parallel talk. By incorporating these strategies into your playtime, you can create a language-rich environment and support your child's communication skills in an engaging and enjoyable way.

Let's dive in!

A. Self-Talk: Thinking Out Loud

Self-talk involves verbalizing your thoughts and actions as you engage in play with Potato Head. By narrating your own actions, you provide a model for language use and help expand your child's vocabulary.

Here's how to incorporate self-talk into Potato Head play:

The Power of Self-Talk: What does it mean, what does it look like and how does it help?

  1. Enhances Comprehension: When using shorter sentences, children can more easily process the information being shared. Shorter sentences allow them to grasp the meaning and understand the relationship between words and actions. Self talk means that you are using your words to describe your actions. So if you are playing with Potato Head and you are putting the hat on Potato Head's Head you would say: Hat on! Keeping your language simple! This makes language easier for your little one to understand as you tie your words with your action (self talk).

  2. Encourages Imitation: Children are more likely to imitate and repeat shorter phrases or sentences. By using succinct self-talk, you provide them with models that they can readily imitate, reinforcing their language skills and encouraging verbal participation.

  3. Fosters Vocabulary Development: Shorter sentences are effective for introducing new vocabulary words. By using one or two words to describe an action or object, children can quickly absorb and incorporate these words into their own vocabulary.

  4. Promotes Language Expansion: While short and sweet, self-talk can still be expanded upon. You can gradually add more detail or information based on your child's responses and engagement, allowing for a natural progression in their language development.

  5. Facilitates Engagement: Shorter sentences keep children's attention focused on the activity at hand. By providing brief descriptions and prompts, you allow them to actively participate, ask questions, and engage in meaningful interactions.

B. Tips for Using Short and Sweet Self-Talk:

  1. Keep It Simple: Use one or two words to describe actions, objects, or feelings. For example, "Stirring soup," "Red ball," or "Happy face."

  2. Highlight Key Features: Draw attention to specific characteristics or attributes. For instance, "Big eyes," "Soft blanket," or "Funny hat."

  3. Incorporate Action Words: Use action verbs to describe movements and actions. For example, "Jumping high," "Running fast," or "Twirling around."

  4. Follow Their Lead: Pay attention to your child's interests and focus your self-talk on what captures their attention. This personalized approach encourages active engagement and reinforces their enthusiasm for learning.

  5. Encourage Turn-Taking: Alternate between self-talk and giving your child the opportunity to respond or contribute. This back-and-forth exchange promotes conversation and reinforces their communication skills.

C. The Power of Parallel talk

Involves describing your child's actions and choices during play. This technique helps them associate language with their own experiences, reinforcing their understanding and use of words. Here's how to incorporate parallel talk into Potato Head play:

When using parallel talk during playtime with Potato Head, it can be helpful to use shorter phrases when commenting on your child's actions. This approach allows for easier comprehension and imitation, promoting their language development in an engaging way.

Here are some tips for using parallel talk while playing with Potato Head:

  1. Comment on Actions: Observe and describe your child's actions using brief phrases. For example, if they put on the eyes, you can say, "Eyes on!" or "You did it!"

  2. Highlight Choices: When your child makes a choice, acknowledge it with a concise comment. For instance, if they select the red hat, you can say, "Red hat, nice!" or simply "Red hat!"

  3. Use Key Words: Focus on using essential words to describe their actions. For example, if they are placing the arms, say, "Arms in!"

Remember to maintain a playful and enthusiastic tone while using shorter phrases. This will keep your child engaged and encourage them to participate in the conversation. By using parallel talk, you provide a language-rich environment that supports their language development and encourages meaningful interactions.

Enjoy your time with Potato Head and have fun building your child's communication skills through the power of parallel talk!

C. Benefits of Self-Talk and Parallel Talk:

  1. Vocabulary Development: Both techniques expose your child to a wide range of words, helping them expand their vocabulary and develop word associations.

  2. Comprehension and Expression: Self-talk and parallel talk help children understand the connection between words and actions, encouraging them to express themselves effectively.

  3. Engagement and Interaction: These techniques foster interactive communication, inviting your child to respond, ask questions, and engage in conversations.


Playing with Potato Head becomes more than just a fun activity when we incorporate self-talk and parallel talk. These techniques provide a language-rich environment that supports your child's language development and fosters meaningful interactions. Remember, be enthusiastic and playful during these interactions to make language learning an enjoyable experience for both of you.

So, grab your Potato Head and embark on a language-filled adventure with your child. Together, let's build their communication skills, one playful conversation at a time!

Happy talking and playing!

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