We all know that books can open a whole new world of imagination, but they can also help open a whole new world of speech. Here are some ideas of using books, magazines and catalogs you already have on hand to get some word practice in for your child. This first suggestion is one that I think we could all use right about now…especially with the blizzard prediction here in Chicagoland!
What you Need: Nothing!
What you do: Pretend you are going on a trip to the beach. Ask your child to help you “pack.” Have them make suggestions by giving prompts, “We wear this when we go swimming,” or “So we don’t get sunburned, we will need to bring ____.” Throw in a couple of silly items that you (and they) know won’t be going in your suitcase to the beach. Try “going” on a vacation to the mountains next.
Why Bother: It’s a fun way to pass the time if you are waiting, develops vocabulary, word associations, target sounds, and critical thinking skills, too.
Other Resources You Might Consider: Smart Kids makes a cool double-sided flip chart entitled, “Where are you going? What would you take?” ($11). In it are colorful pictures of various vacation destinations…beach, jungle, camping, skiing, airport, etc. It’s a great resource to prompt your child with situations that stimulate early speaking, listening and language skills. Look for it at www.smartkids.co.uk or www.janellepublications.com
Equipment: Picture books or real art work at home or around town. Try these books: “Can You Find it Inside” and “Can You Find it Outside?” (Jessica Schulte). They’re great little hardcover art appreciation books for kids in which you search and discover famous pieces of art based on rhyme-style clues in the book.
What you do: Study the pictures/illustrations/art and ask your kid questions about what’s happening. Together, you can create a story. “Who lives here?” Why do you think he’s sad?” For less verbal kids, just identifying what you—the adult– sees in the picture can be helpful. The more you talk, the more they learn.
Why Bother: Exposure to new media and styles of art is great, increases observational skills/attention to detail and encourages story-telling (aka talking!)
3—A Picture is Worth a 1000 Words.
Equipment: Magazine, scissors, glue and kid
What you do: Cut out magazine pictures of things your kid is interested in—people, places, things like toys and food. Try to make the picture of a single object, say pizza on one card, a grandma on another, etc. Then glue the images to a note card or construction paper. When you have a sizeable amount (it will vary based on your kid’s age, attention span and verbal ability), arrange them on the floor and use the pictures as prompts, create a story out of it.
Variation: Rip just one picture/photo from the magazine, but this time make sure there’s some activity going on. Ask your child to tell you about it. Where are the people going, what are they eating, are they happy or sad? What other things can you think to ask them about? What can they ask you about the picture?
Why Bother: While this loosely targets sequencing skills (see below), it stirs the creative juices, develops story-telling, and gets your kid talking about things he’s interested in.
Equipment: Kumon Fold and Cut workbook for preschool (most places that carry books, around $6).
What you do: Pick a few activities from the book—they are self-explanatory or have simple directions—and do them together with your child. Then quiz her on what you are doing. For example, one activity is a picture of a little boy smiling. When you open the folded part he’s crying. You could ask your child to say “smile” (works on those /S/ blends) and then say, “Cry(ing)” Ask other questions, too—“Why is he happy?” Even if your child answers with “I don’t know” (or some variation of—as long as it’s verbal), it still counts!
Why Bother: Fun, engaging, and 1:1 time with a parent. The activities are varied and can be used just about anywhere. Keep a Kumon workbook in your car or bag and see where it takes you.
Let me know if any of these suggestions worked for you!! I’m always happy to hear from you. firstname.lastname@example.org