Your child has come to a point where they can play independently and it is time for them to join their play with words. At first, they may be labeling objects they’re picking up or see. Let’s say they’re in their play kitchen and they say “banana”. You can expand on it by creating a phrase “Let’s PEEL the banana”. Emphasize novel words and unique parts of a phrase to allow it to stand out to your child.
It’s all about input they are receiving. The more verbal modeling that you provide during play, everyday errands, etc. the more likely they are to start narrating their own actions. Feel free to initiate structured play with them. For instance, grab a tea set and start setting it up by saying phrases such as “Here’s a plate”. Then, take the teapot and say “Pouring tea”, pretend to drink it and say “Drinking tea” or “Wow! It’s hot!”, etc.
Another alternative is to chime in when they have already initiated play with an item on their own. “Oh the car is going up up up the garage!”, “The car needs gas!”, “We’re driving fast!”, etc. They do not have to repeat everything you are saying, but you are giving their actions words and meaning. You are also adding new vocabulary to their repertoire. For example, they may already know “car”, but “gas” might be a new word. To give it extra meaning, talk about getting gas when you’re actually at the gas station. Real life situations will encourage them to make more connections and make them more apt to using new words and longer phrases when on their own.
Your toddler is becoming very aware of his surroundings and people around him. You can use it as a chance to really connect with people and things by giving compliments. For instance, Roman has started complimenting our hair saying “hair nice”.
You can target things such as artwork and verbally model phrases such as “pretty picture”. If a girl is wearing a pretty dress you can model “cute dress”. If a friend is playing with a fun new toy you can say “cool new truck”. This now only will make others feel happy, but will also make your toddler start thinking about the power of their words.
And it doesn’t necessarily have to be someone or something that someone has made or has. It could be things that you see in nature. Let’s say you’re taking a walk you can talk about a tree by saying “Wow that’s a beautiful tall tree!”. There are tons of possibilities, so go ahead and make someone’s day!
The world is an exciting place and it comes with lots of feelings for little ones (and adults), so we have to make sure we give them a voice to talk about how they feel. For instance, my son is starting to get the concept of “scary” if it’s a ghost, lion, etc. and he will comment saying phrases such as “ghost scary”.
We recommend starting off with basic feelings such as happy vs. sad. You can practice smiling and frowning in front of the mirror and labeling the feelings with one word. We also started by looking at pictures of babies in Mrs. Mustard’s Baby Feelings book and our Baby Feeling ibook since they are clear depictions of happy vs. sad. We also talked about feelings while watching videos or television shows to make screen time an interactive experience.
You can also talk about feelings as they happen since this is the prime age for tantrums! For instance, if someone took their toy away you can label the feeling with a sentence such as “I know that makes you feel SAD”. As they get the hang of it, you can add more complicated feelings in such as excited, scary, surprised, etc. They love imitating your facial expressions and even pretending! For instance, you can do role-play with dinosaurs and pretend to hide under a blanket or pillows to pretend to be very scared! Targeting feelings through story time and art are also fantastic ways to go over feelings and using that starter phrase “I feel ____”, “She feels ____”, “He feels ____”, “They feel ____”, etc. Have a HAPPY day! ☺
We recently did a post about building phrases with “me” and “mine” such as “my shoes”. Your child is very observant and he or she is beginning to know what specific items belong to certain people. Often many of us are (unfortunately) attached to our phone these days so a common phrase you may hear is “Mommy phone”. The more they see us with an item the more they will associate it with us.
We like to start off with clothing since a jacket, for example, is something we wear every day in the fall/winter. They may be imitating or spontaneously saying “jacket” or “coat”, but you can now begin modeling possession such as “mommy coat”. Other things to target could be toys or other personal items. For instance, you could choose something that belongs to them such as “Roman’s dinosaur”. They may not say the ‘s part quite yet, but just to get them thinking about WHO it belongs to is a big step.
These techniques have also been helpful with behavior. Let’s say your child is trying to rip the papers of a magazine that you are reading. To put an end to this behavior, you can say “This is Mommy’s magazine and this is Roman’s book… we read magazines and books”. The more you use the same language, the more likely they will catch on, listen, and say it back!
Brrrr! It’s been quite a cold winter! Weather is one of the perfect opportunities to get kids talking! You can comment on temperature, setting, clothing, as well as related actions and winter activities. Our best piece of advice is to keep your words consistent so your child can catch on easily!
You want to always start off verbally modeling what you want your child to say. For instance, when the weather was beginning to get cold we produced words such as “cold”, “windy”, “freezing”, etc. We kept repeating it as often as we could and after one month he began saying it independently. It’s also great to review winter clothing items such as “jacket”, “hat”, “boots”, “scarf”, “gloves/mittens”, “boots”, “sweater”, “pants”, etc. And if your child is ready for phrases you can target ones such as “my hat” or “I want jacket”.
Things you see in the winter are also great such as “snow”, “ice”, etc. We even like to comment on how the trees are bare and the leaves are on the ground. Other winter related words include actions such as “sledding”, “sliding”, etc. You can add in some nouns (e.g. – “sled”, “ice skates”, etc.) and adjectives (e.g. – “slippery”). We personally love doing sensory activities (e.g. – bringing snow inside, putting ice cubes in a tray, etc.) to practice all of the vocabulary above and talk about how things “feel”. Then, finish it off with some fun activities like eating S’mores and making hot chocolate!
As parents, we of course don’t love when a major spill happens or when our child is crying because they can’t get something out! However, these situations often lead to lots of spontaneous language! For instance, if water spills your child may say “Uh oh wet!”.
During our speech therapy sessions, we love creating “uh oh” situations on purpose. For instance, we may build a tower and then intentionally make it fall to see what the child says. Or we may put a desired item in a jar, close the lid really tightly, and hand it to the child. This gives them an opportunity to ask for “help” or perhaps use a descriptive word like “stuck”. We advise parents to take a look at their day and think of a few instances where they can cause a structured “uh oh” whether it be during mealtime, bath time, or playtime. It could be as simple as making an item fall down from the high chair and modeling “fall down”. And if things happen naturally take it as an opportunity to model the appropriate language.
And great news – we have an “Uh Oh” iBook coming out soon, which will show videos of “things going wrong” to encourage commenting. Be on the lookout!
Sunday March 6, 2016
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Join Gift of Gab and Cricket Azima, Founder of The Creative Kitchen at the Kids Food Festival, for a hands on-cooking class featuring adaptations for various physical & developmental abilities.
Held at Celsius NYC 41 W 40th Street (Bryant Park)
$25 Purchase tickets here