The following activities are excerpted from my book Language Lessons, which is packed with games and activities to enhance skills in listening, comprehending, and producing language.
Children learn to understand language before they learn to produce it. While some children with language disorders may have normal comprehension skills with delayed speech production, often production and comprehension of language are linked. Here are some activities to try with very young children.
· Use new words in a dialogue repeatedly to help the child learn them faster. "Look at the duck! Duck says, 'quack quack.' Duck swims fast. Go, go little duck!"
· Put several objects on a table. Ask, "Where is the ___?" Progress to hiding an object and asking, "Where is ____?" While the child is looking, ask questions such as "Is it under the table?" and "Is it on the bed?"
· Have your child match pictures to actual items. Name each item several times to reinforce the word.
· Develop a habit of having the child name things in his environment, such as his clothes as he gets dressed in the morning or the food on his plate.
· Ask questions about the illustrations in a picture book. "Where is the ___?" "What is this girl doing?"
· Play background music while you have your child perform each action you call out---walk, jump, stop, clap, wave, and so on.
· Teach your child to respond to, "What is your name?" Help him call other people by name.
· Have your child pick up an object and say, "my ______." Have him give you an object and say, "your ______."
· Help your child think of all the things he can do with his fingers (point, scratch, wiggle, bend, pinch, touch…). Name these words and do the actions. Have him use the words to tell you what to do.
· Help your child think of all the things he can do with his feet (wiggle, point toes, walk, run, stomp, kick …). Name these words and do the actions. Have him use the words to tell you what to do.
· Help your child think of all the things he can do with his mouth (eat, kiss, blow, pucker, whisper, scream, smile, grin, whistle …). Name these words and do the actions. Have him use the words to tell you what to do.
· Gather an assortment of objects. Help your child think of a describing word for each object, such as shiny, smooth, rough, soft, hard, or sharp.
· Place several objects on the table. Describe an object and ask your child to guess the correct object. Use adjectives in your question. "Which one is shiny and sharp?" Which one is blue and slippery?" "Which one feels rough?"
· Place pictures on the table. Ask your child "riddles" and encourage him to choose the correct picture. "Which one tastes sour?" "Which one is long and sharp?" "Which one is cold?"
· Place pictures of animals or other objects on the table. Teach or review action words by asking, "What hops?" "What barks?" "Which one cuts?" Or ask, "What does a dog do?" "What does a pencil do?" and help your child answer.
· Make a "Me" book with your child. On the first page, write, "My name is ___________," and attach a photo of your child. Each page can provide a new vocabulary topic….things I like to play with, things I like to eat, my favorite places to go, my friends, body parts, etc.
· When you visit the grocery store, look at all the fruits and vegetables. See how many your child can name. Talk about the fruits and vegetables. Do they have peels? Are they sweet? What colors are they? Buy a new variety to try at home.
Use these ideas to stimulate your own ideas for activities to enjoy with your child!