Super excited to have Katie and Stephanie here today to share with us. I love this post and the views they share as speech-language pathologists. Thanks for sharing with us today!
Hello, friends! We’re Katie of Let’s Grow Speech and Stephanie of Twodaloo, and we are so excited to be part of the 10 Things Kids Love Series here at Frogs & Snails & Puppy Dog Tails. As speech-language pathologists and mothers of young children, we are always thinking about ways to turn our kids’ activities into more language-rich experiences. We were thrilled to be able to put our heads together and come up with a list of 10 Language-Building Activities Kids Love just for you! We’ll each share our top five activities below along with how you can use easily use them to build speech and language skills at home.
10 Language-Building Activities Kids Love
First up is Katie sharing five fun and easy language-based activities that she enjoys doing with her 4 year old and 2 year old:
1. Storytelling can be done in so many fun ways. You can make a story bag by filling a bag with random toys and items from around the house, and using those as props to create a story. You can draw or print pictures and string them together to create a storytelling necklace or attach them to a paint stirring stick to create a storytelling stick. Regardless of how you build your story, you need to remember that the best stories have these common key elements: characters, a setting, a problem, some actions, and an ending. Adding expression, feelings, and descriptive language make a story even better! I usually start our storytelling activities by modeling a short story with all of the key elements, and then my kids quickly jump in for their turn to tell a story next. Some other fun ways are to take turns telling the next part of a story or letting your kids fill in the blanks of a story.
2. Building forts is always a favorite for kids. It takes problem solving and planning, both language-based skills. Fort building is a great opportunity to ask problem solving questions like, “How could we hold this blanket in place?” or prediction questions like, “What do you think will happen if we move this cushion?” You can also address prepositions while you are building… “Should we put this blanket over or under the chair?” or “Look, I am hiding behind the fort!”
3. Playdough provides hours of pretend play at our house. One of our favorite things to do is to “cook” with our playdough. We talk about what kind of ingredients we will need in our cooking, what kind of foods are our favorites, and how delicious it all tastes. We talk about rolling, cutting, baking, serving, and eating. We practice sharing and asking for more. There are endless ways to incorporate playdough into pretend play! Playdough is also perfect for teaching basic concepts and following directions… “Make a big red ball, then make a small yellow ball.”
4. Reading books is not only a favorite for most children, it is also one of the most important things you can do with your child. I have some great tips and demonstrations of how to read with your child here . When reading with your child, it is important to talk and ask questions about the pictures and story, make connections between the story and your child’s experiences (by asking questions like, “do you remember when…?”), and use plenty of expression so reading is exciting and fun.
5. Outdoor Play: I count down the hours until the cold winter days are over so we can get outdoors and play. Whether it is playing at the park, going for a walk, digging in the dirt with our trucks, or exploring in the sandbox, everyone is happy when we’re outside! Playing outdoors provides plenty of opportunities to describe what you see, feel, hear, smell, and maybe even taste (if your kids are into eating dirt). This is a great way to teach your kids new, descriptive vocabulary.
Next up is Stephanie sharing five of her favorite language stimulation activities to do with her two year-old twins:
6. Sensory Play: Sensory play, sometimes known as “messy play,” is simply play that encourages children to use one or more of the senses. Sensory play appeals to children of all ages and is full of opportunities for language enrichment. For more information on the benefits of sensory play, see my post here. I use sensory play to help expand my twins’ vocabulary by discussing how things feel, look, smell, move, and sometimes even taste! Some of our favorite sensory play activities include playing in tubs of colored rice, dry pasta, or pinto beans with kitchen utensils for dumping, filling, pouring, mixing, and transferring.
7. Cooking : Involving your children in the kitchen is a wonderful way to encourage language development. Cooking gives me plenty of opportunities to introduce descriptive vocabulary as I talk about all the ingredients and give the twins an opportunity to experiment with them. They get a chance to observe and demonstrate action words such as stir, mix, cut, and roll. Cooking is a great way to work on sequencing and storytelling as you discuss and recall the steps in a recipe, and if more than one child is involved it is a great time to practice social language (“May I have a turn?”). Older children can practice finding and reading recipes, gathering the necessary ingredients, and even writing their own recipes for higher-level language and literacy activities.
8. Small world Play: Small world play refers to creating a miniature play scene using toys, figures, found objects, and/or sensory materials. Children typically start to enjoy this type of play around age two, when they begin to demonstrate imaginative play, and continue to love it through elementary school. I just started doing small world play with my twins and have found it to be amazing for language stimulation- we use it for role play, early storytelling, and vocabulary development, especially when sensory play materials are included.
9. Art Projects: My twins have just begun to demonstrate interest in art activities, and I am finding lots of ways to encourage language development while we get creative! Younger children remain engaged longer when presented with process-based art projects, which focus more on the act of creating art rather than the finished product. Similar to cooking and sensory play, art activities provide lots of opportunities for descriptive language, gathering necessary materials, and sequencing the steps of the activity.
10. Music: Songs and finger plays (i.e. “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”) are one of the easiest language stimulation activities you can do with little ones. Plus, singing is completely free, and you can do it anywhere! When you sing songs with your children, they are learning to hear the similarities and differences between sounds (also known as auditory discrimination), which is important for language learning and pre-reading skills. You are also teaching them new vocabulary, modeling phrase and sentence structure, exposing them to the concepts of rhyming and alliteration, and strengthening their memories.
We hope you have enjoyed our 10 Language Building Activities Kids Love.
Thanks again, Jaime, for having us today at FSPDT!
Katie Pedersen is a full-time mommy, part-time speech-language pathologist. She loves living in a beautiful little valley amid the mountains of Utah with her husband and three children, and going on outings with her family. Her newest adventure is sharing her passion for speech-language development with parents and other SLPs on her website, Let’s Grow Speech.
Stephanie Haass is a speech-language pathologist specializing in child language and autism who is currently staying at home to play and learn with her toddler twins. She blogs about early childhood activities, language development, and the joys and struggles of parenting at Twodaloo.