5 Fun Activities For Speech and Language Development
This is a guest post written by Paula Acuña, M.A., CCC-SLP,. Paula is a licensed bilingual (English-Spanish) speech-language pathologist Images provided by Little Learning Corner.
Today I’ll be sharing some fun and effective activities that you can do with your kids to support your child’s speech and language development.
Name That Toy
When teaching everyday vocabulary, try not to just label the objects. Instead, talk about what makes each item unique. Describe how it looks or how we use it.
Toy Talk is a language modeling strategy intended to facilitate the emergence of diverse sentence combinations in a child’s spoken language. This strategy has two components:
- Talking about the toys with which the child is playing (i.e., states, actions, characteristic properties). This can be used in pretend play, constructive play, games/routines, and with books. Have your child select the activity and then add language by commenting on what your child finds interesting.
Child (with toy dog): Puppy.
Parent: Your puppy looks hungry. Let’s give him food.
Child: Go there?
Parent: Does the cow go there? Yes, the cow goes in.
Parent: Here comes the ball! The ball is rolling.
- Giving the toy its name
Child: It’s falling.
Parent: Yes, your tower is falling.
Child (with toy dog): He’s soft.
Parent: Scout is so soft. Scout barks too.
We can use Toy Talk in addition to other effective strategies, including responsive labeling (e.g., that’s a monkey), self-talk (e.g., I’m rocking the baby), and parallel talk (e.g., you’re holding the baby).
Make Reading Interactive
Reading for at least 15 minutes should be a part of your daily routine with your child, and it should be fun! Be engaging when you read by describing pictures, asking simple questions, commenting on what your child finds interesting, and making connections between fictional characters or events and people or experiences in real life.
Dialogic Reading occurs when an adult helps a child engage in conversation and become the storyteller. Children learn best when they are actively involved in the interaction. You can utilize the PEER sequence to facilitate this type of exchange. Here, the adult:
Prompts the child to make a comment about the book,
Evaluates the response,
Expands by rephrasing or adding something to it, and
Repeats the prompt and response to ensure the child understands the expansion.
You can repeat this sequence on nearly every page of a book, before or after reading it through. Over time, you’ll see that you are reading less of the written words and allowing the child to insert their own ideas.
Engage in Social Play
You can significantly improve your child’s language development by simply dedicating time to play with your child! Try engaging in pretend play, using props or costumes and silly voices when possible. Practice turn-taking and reciprocal interactions, as this is the foundation for conversations.
Establish an Ideal Environment
Provide opportunities for your child to communicate throughout the day. Set up their environment so that your child is encouraged to gesture or speak to make their wants known. You can also build verbal choices into everyday routines. Be sure to give your child ample time to make these verbal requests. Try not to anticipate their needs.
Does your child LOVE bubbles? Keep a bottle near the door, within your child’s line of sight but safely out of reach. Oftentimes kids will request a preferred object that is out of reach.
Once you acknowledge their request to play, have your child ask to open, dip, blow, and pop the bubbles.
Ask Fewer Questions
It is natural to ask many questions when we talk to our children. But, when a child does not have any words or has minimal words, keep in mind that they likely cannot answer your question. So, to help your child learn words, say a short and simple statement that matches their gesture. This way the child will hear the word and may eventually start to imitate that word. It is still okay to ask questions, but balance your questions with statements!
- Use short phrases (2 to 3 words)
- Talk about what your child is doing or requesting. It’s motivating for your child!
- Speak more slowly
- Enunciate your word
Example 1: Use statements to talk about what your child is doing.
When your child is drawing you could say, “I like your drawing. Nice brown dog!”
Example 2: Use statements to talk about what you are doing.
While doing laundry you may say, “I’m folding shirts.” or “Look: daddy’s socks!”, rather than asking something like “What color are these pants?”
Example 3: Avoid starting sentences with words like ‘can,’ ‘should,’ and / or ‘do.’ as these words often start questions.
At bath time, you might say “It’s bath time! Let’s play in the tub!” rather than asking ‘Do you want to take a bath?’
Paula Acuña, M.A., CCC-SLP, is a licensed bilingual (English-Spanish) speech-language pathologist with advanced training in early intervention, bilingual education, the PROMPT technique, and picture exchange communication system (PECS), social thinking, and feeding therapy. Paula has a Master’s in Speech & Hearing Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Bachelor’s in Human Communication Sciences from Northwestern University. Paula also supports individuals with various diagnoses including autism, apraxia, Down syndrome, developmental delay, hearing impairment, learning disabilities, phonological disorder, specific language impairment, and traumatic brain injury.
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