Sunday, July 8, 2012

Teaching Preschoolers About Categories

Here is an excerpt from my just-published book, Language Lessons: From Listening Skills to Conversation.

Language lessons-small

Language Lessons is available at Currclick for an introductory price of $9.95.


Teaching children to categorize objects helps them to organize their world and to form a mental structure for adding vocabulary. Children with delayed language may not do this automatically.

· Make a picture notebook for your child. On each page, label a separate category, such as family, food, toys, animals, furniture, friends, dishes, etc. Cut out pictures from catalogs and magazines or print them from the internet and help the child glue them on the appropriate page. The book can be added to over many months. When several pictures are in the book, talk about each of them, "What is this? Yes, it's a fox. A fox is an animal, just like this dog and this cat." For young or lower functioning children, this activity will be easiest with actual photos of objects in the child's home. Start with only two categories, adding more as needed.

· Cut out pictures of items in different categories. Help the child to sort them. Store the pictures in envelopes to play again. Keep your eyes out for category flashcards, which can sometimes be found inexpensively at discount stores (or more expensively at teacher supply stores). Some pictures are included at the end of this book.

· Gather objects than can be organized into categories, then ask your child to find "all the things we eat with" or "all the toys" or "all the things we drink." Help the child act out the use of each item.

· Find pictures of people—either from magazines or actual photos of family members. Have your child pick out "all the women," "all the children," "all the people wearing blue," or "all the people wearing glasses."

· Ask your child to finish each statement:

  • Blue and red are both ___________.
  • Hats and shirts are both ___________.
  • A hammer and a saw are both _______________.
  • Cereal and bananas are both ____________.
  • A ball and blocks are both _________.
  • Dogs and cats are both ________.
  • A cup and a plate are both __________.

· Collect pairs of pictures that "go together," such as fork and spoon, cup and saucer, dog and doghouse, lock and key, bed and pillow, or shoe and sock. Begin with just 2 picture pairs. Set them on the table. Pick up one picture and ask your child, "Which picture goes with this one?" Help him match up the "go-togethers." Gradually add more picture pairs.

· Gather an assortment of pictures. Have the child divide them into "inside things" and "outside things."

· Place 3 items or pictures on the table—2 similar items and one different. Ask your child to name which item "doesn't belong."

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