Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Language Activity: Treasure Hunt

Something I'd like to do with this blog is post ideas for games and activities you can do with your child, and also include ideas on how to strengthen language or speech skills with that particular game.  So here's an example:

Activity:  Treasure Hunt
Ages:  2+
Language Skills Targeted: -Directional Vocabulary (left, right, straight, up, down, under, next to, on top, beneath, etc.)

So here's what you do.  You find a treasure box.  Or a shoebox.  Or a leftover container.  Really it doesn't matter.  That's the wonderful thing about kids and their imaginations.  You say, "This is our treasure chest!" with enthusiasm in your voice, and they'll run with it.  I happened to have a little treasure chest I bought at Michael's back in my college days.
Now go ahead and dump your change jar full of pennies into the treasure chest/shoebox/leftover container.  Or you could also find those cheapo bags of chocolate wrapped in gold foil.  Then muster up your inner-child's enthusiasm and say, "This is our GOLD!  Now let's pretend to be pirates! I'm going to hide my treasure where you'll never find it!"

Okay you don't have to use those exact words.  But you get the idea.

Then for the fun part. Take turns hiding the treasure chest.  To really take advantage of the language-learning opportunities, hide it really well.  That way they have to look at you or ask you for help in finding it.  Then you can start using the directional vocabulary.  "Look under the couch.  Look on top of the shelf.  It might be in between the couch and the table.  Look to your left."  

An understanding of these concepts is crucial for academic success in the classroom and in life in general.  It's never too soon to start introducing them.

After you or your child finds it, review by stating where it was hidden.  "It was inside the cupboard!"

It's up to you how much you want to embellish this little activity.  I prefer to lean towards simplicity.  But you could always add an eye patch or a treasure map.  When I played this with my son, we drew a simple map of our house and I'd draw an X in the room where I hid the treasure.  Then I taught him the phrase, "X marks the spot."  Throw in a few "Argh matey's" and "Avast me hearties" and you're GOLDEN.

And just because I think it's hilarious, here's an English to Pirate Translator.

Have fun!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Language-Enhancing Strategies

Well, it's a little late, but as promised, here is a post with suggestions on how to help your child expand his/her language.  You might read through these 4 strategies and think, "I already do those things."  Well you probably do!  And that means you're doing a good job!  Moms really are in tune with their kids and often do just what their kids need without even realizing it.  These 4 strategies are simple but work wonders.  The key, I think, is to find the right balance of language.  When implementing these, you want to speak with your child at their level, with just a little bit of added difficulty.  Say your child usually only puts two words together.  Try modeling 3-word sentences with them for a while, and see what happens.  Research shows when parents use these methods, children pick up on it and children's language skills improve.

Parallel Talk:  You narrate what your child is doing as they are doing it.
Example:  "You're blowing bubbles!  You popped it!  It went away!"

Self Talk:  You narrate what you are doing while you are doing it.
Example:  "I'm making dinner.  I'm stirring it."

Description:  You describe something the child is looking at or playing with.
Example:  "That's soft.  Soft bear.  Brown bear."

Expansion:  You expand on a phrase or word the child has said.
Example:  Child points to a car and says, "Car."  You say, "Fast car!" or "Red car."  or "Your car."

And there you have it.  Four simple but tried and true strategies on how to help improve your young child's language skills.

Here are some links to other sites on the same stuff: