Playing With Just Your Imagination:
Ask an Expert
We’re going on vacation, is there anything I can do to work on language with my child while we are gone?
Yes! In fact, the possibilities are endless! Almost anything you do can be turned into a language opportunity, from labeling things you see in your new environment, to bringing portable activities along with you. Here are some specific examples that are good for airplanes, cars, hotel rooms, or wherever you may find yourself on vacation!
- Books: Books contain endless opportunities to encourage language development through pointing to pictures, imitation of words, labeling pictures, etc. Bring favorites or new ones to engage them.
- Crayons and paper or coloring books: These can be used for labeling pictures or colors, requesting (“more,” “help,” “all done,” etc.), using imagination to create open dialogue and promote exchange of language between you and your child.
- Songs and Fingerplays: Use songs they already know or teach them some new songs and fingerplays to practice imitation of words and actions, e.g. “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” “Wheels on the Bus,” etc.
- Scavenger hunt! Wherever you are, there are bound to be opportunities for you to have your child look for something specific (such as an animal or car), something a certain color (if they know them), or other things in your environment. Have them imitate sounds, words, etc. or modify for whatever their goals are.
- Use your imagination! Whatever the trip entails, there are always ways to encourage language. Don’t forget to label what else you see throughout your trip to give them a language model of these new and exciting things in their environment!
The Elefun Busy Ball Popper by Playskool is a wonderful toy for engaging in joint attention, teaching turn taking, as well as promoting early language use. This is a great tool for teaching cause and effect, as your little one takes a turn putting the balls in and watching them pop back out! Encourage your child to request “more” verbally or through sign language before taking another turn. (*Therapist tip: You can turn the switch to off in between turns so that your child has to communicate with you for it to work again!)You can also support their expressive language use by adding words to your play: “Pop! Pop! Pop!” “Ready, set, go!” or “Go ball!”
Playing With Just Your Imagination:
If you give a kid a cardboard box he’ll want…nothing! That is because a cardboard box (preferably big enough for them to fit in) could be anything! A house, a barn, a racecar, a spaceship, the perfect hide and seek hideout? They could transform into a robot or superhero, a princess in her castle or stuck in a tower, etc. The box becomes whatever your child wants it to be, which elicits fun and imaginative play for hours on end!
Will using sign language prevent my child from speaking?
No, when your child is able to speak, he or she will. In fact, using signs may do just the opposite and help your child to learn to speak faster. Using signs allows your child to have access to words using all senses. Your child can hear the word, produce the sign and see the object all at the same time. The child will also begin to associate the need to produce a word with achieving a desired result. This plants the seed for further language growth while building your child’s confidence. Finally the use of sign language is a GREAT way to reduce frustration. Your child will have a way to communicate his wants and needs while he is still learning to talk.
Age group: 24 months and up
An important goal for 2-year-olds is to learn how to engage and play with peers appropriately, so they need adults to model and guide them through the process. This toy provides the opportunity for children to practice turn-taking and sharing skills while improving matching skills at the same time!
We love to read to our child at night before bed. Are there any tips to make this ritual a language learning experience?
Reading is a great way to expose your little one to language and encourage communication.At this age, stick to short and simple board books with bright pictures of common objects. There should be about one idea per page. Before you read, introduce the book to your child and talk about the cover with enthusiasm.Read slowly, so you child has time to take in the story and pictures. And, of course, be sure to read with enthusiasm! If you are interested in the book, your child will be too.You can try using different voices for different characters. You can incorporate conversation by pointing to the pictures of common objects and asking your child to label the object: “Look, it’s a ____!”If you have a book that your child enjoys that is too advanced, simplify the story for them by only reading the main points seen in the pictures.
Don’t worry if your child keeps asking for the same book over and over again. Young children commonly enjoy the same story and the repetition helps to learn language!