• Jump Start

A Classic Toy that Really "Stacks” Up

Written By: Kaitlin Bednarz M.S., CCC-SLP


A wooden stacking ring, one of the most well-known toys, is a great tool to target language skills for all ages! Here are some fun ways promote language development!

  • Vocabulary

  • While playing with these blocks there are lots of opportunities to introduce vocabulary words! Talk about colors, sizes, and the shape of the rings. You can also practice actions and prepositions with the rings such as: roll, spin, on, off. Core words can also be prompted during play: want, more, go, stop, up, down


  • Phrases

  • Now that you’ve introduced the basic vocabulary, it’s time to build some phrases! Here are some ideas for targeting 2-3 word phrases:

  • Color + ring

  • Size + ring

  • Ring + on/off

  • Take + off

  • Put + on

  • Go + down

  • Size + color + ring

  • Color + go + down

  • Take + color + off

  • Color + ring + off/on

  • Put + color + on

  • Ring + spin + fast/slow

  • I + want + color


  • Routines

  • My favorite routine to use with a wooden stacking ring involves a strategy called sabotage! I will put my hand at the top of the pole (with enough room for the child to put the ring on) to block the ring from sliding down! I will then have the child produce a word/phrase such as: “go”, “blue down”, or “blue go down.” Once the child produces the targeted word/phrase, I will move my hand away and let the ring fall down! I will also keep all the rings in my lap so the child has to request for “more” or “I want purple ring.” If your child is not producing words yet, you can model pointing to the rings as a request!


  • Yes/No

  • Practice yes/no (verbally or by practicing nodding head in the correct direction) with the wooden stacking rings by asking questions such as: “Is this purple?” or “does purple go next?”


  • Turn-Taking

  • Sharing is caring, right? You can practice basic turn-taking skills with your child with the phrases “my turn” and “your turn.” Take turns putting the rings on the pole!


  • Hide and Seek with Spatial Concepts and Following Directions

  • “Ready or not, here I come!” For receptive language (understanding), you can give your child a direction such as “put the purple ring in the bathtub.” Close your eyes and wait for your child to complete the task! Then run together to see if he/she followed the direction correctly! For expressive language, switch roles! Have your child close his/her eyes, hide the ring, then have your child state where the ring is using the correct preposition word (i.e., in, on, under, behind).


  • I Spy

  • “with my little eye….” Use the rings as a spyglass to search for items around the house! This is a great way to learn new language and explore an environment!

Have fun "stacking up" language with your child!


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