If you are like me . . . you will be at home with your family for the foreseeable future.
Now, your little ones might not be at school or nursery, or your local speech therapy might not be available, but this doesn’t mean your child needs to miss out on language activities. As a therapist, I am constantly saying that language development is a daily, parent-led, home-placed task . . . and so the current climate provides an opportunity to try something new and do some good.
A little bit everyday goes a long way! So when you are looking for something productive to do with 10 minutes, check out some of the fun-filled, language-rich activities below.
None of the learning games or language activities below require anything fancy or expensive, and should use things you already have in your homes!
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Write 5-10 clues on a piece of paper that describe an object on/in which the next clue is hidden, and have a special prize like a snack or a star for them to find at the end. The adult reads the clue which requires the child to listen and understand the language. Use category names, color, adjectives, and function words to describe the objects that the clue is hidden near. I list a breakdown of the different difficulty levels of language development you can pitch the clues.
These can use more abstract clues to increase the level of problem-solving required.
Pick any of your children’s favorite books and have a go at acting them out. The adult can read the story, and the children listen and act out the story as they hear and understand the language. Pick the book depending on language level and child’s interest. You could even film the acting out and then watch it back as a family. For an advanced language development activity, teach them about the elements of a story.
Get them in the kitchen! Recipes are often language-rich and include new vocabulary, so they work wonders for language development. Before you start, pick out the key words from the recipe and chat about it with your children like ‘half,’ ‘whisk,’ or ‘weigh.’ It doesn’t need to be baking, you could try making jam on toast, whizzing up a smoothie, or even homemade play doh!
Either choose a recipe that matches your child’s skill/language level or rewrite out the recipe using more simple language. Read out the instructions for your child to listen to and follow. You can also support them to read it themselves. Add little pictures to create more visual instructions.
There are different levels of vocabulary you can explore through cooking:
Using numbers, exercise, directional language, concepts, and equipment, practice the following workout instructions with your child. This is especially useful with children who love to be active and outside. Give instructions verbally and demonstrate if needed to support their understanding. This could be done as a whole family activity.
Help your child understand questions. To prepare the activity write down a series of questions on different bits of paper and put them in a container. During family time/meal time/before bed . . . all pick a question from the pot and answer it. You child can practice listening to questions and learning how to answer.
Listening to the whole family do the task also creates a great opportunity for language modelling. Try and cover the main basic question words “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “how,” and “why.” For children under 5 years, focus on the first four before moving on to “how” and “why.”
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