The most difficult part of answering a “wh” questions is actually knowing the meaning of the “wh” word. For instance, you have to know that “who” is asking for a person, “where” is asking for a place, “what” is asking for a thing, “when” is referring to a time, and “why” is asking for a reason. “When” and “where” may still be too complicated for this age, but it’s always good to throw it in here and there.
When talking about “who” you can stick to basic things like looking through a photo album to label family members names or you can make it harder as in “Who drives a bus?”. Visual support is always welcome at this age and can be in the form of pictures, illustrations in books, videos, etc. And remind them that “who” is asking for a person.
As for “what”, it could be as simple as asking “What is this?” while using a flashcard, reading a book, etc. This usually only encourages a one-word response since it is not open-ended. You can make it slightly more complicated by saying “What do you see?”, “What do you need?”, etc. This allows for them to use a start phrase such as “I see a duck”. You can then go onto more difficult questions such as “What does a cow say?”, “What do you wear when it’s hot?”
When referring to “where” they have to know that you are asking about a place, so we find that when you’re walking down the street, driving, etc. it is helpful to talk about where you are going. You can even talk about the immediate here and now and ask “Where are you right now?” (e.g. – at home, in the car, in the stroller, etc.). It also gradually helps them understand concepts that are not tangible such as “Where is daddy?” (e.g. – work, on a business trip, etc.) – actual pictures of daddy at his workplace would also be great!
Can you believe it? You’re child is almost two! We decided to concentrate on mealtime milestones this week since a lot more is expected of your child at this point. In terms of texture, they should now be able to eat all textures including: purees, soft chewables, ground lump purees, and more chewable foods. Tougher solids are expected after 24 months.
As for oral-motor skills, your child should now exhibit rotary chewing instead of diagonal chewing. Lateral tongue action should be visible. They should have also mastered straw drinking. Overall, you should observe a decrease in food intake by 24 months.
When it comes to motor skills, their pincer grasp should be refined and they should be past finger feeding. You now want them to grasp the spoon with their whole hand and independently feed themselves by scooping food and brining it to their mouth. All in all, you should see increased control of utensils. As you can see, mealtime and fine motor skills are highly intertwined.
And of course to limit pickiness, have your child eat meals with the whole family and most importantly have them eat what you’re eating. If they are hesitant, have them explore the food with their senses (e.g. – touching it with their fingers). The more they are exposed to different foods the better! So if salmon and cabbage salad is on the menu, it’s also what’s for dinner for your child!
You are probably at the point where you might be in an elevator and a stranger asks your child “What’s your name?”. Your child may not answer right now, but it’s a great time to practice holding a basic conversation.
You can start off with a basic greeting of “Hi” and waving. You can then move onto answering, “What’s your name?” and if they do not answer, model their name. You can practice it in front of a mirror and point to them so they understand what a “name” means. We also found that holding up a picture of just his face helps.
The next step is to go over their age, which may still be a difficult concept. Since they are almost two you can begin asking “How old are you?” and modeling “two”. Holding up the number may be helpful, so they can relate it to a visual. Counting up to two and emphasizing two may also help. Many times when people ask “how” questions to a toddler the child automatically thinks “how many” and begins counting, so when you model the answer “two” make sure to say it right away. Other than that you can also go over basic question and answer pairs such as “How are you?” and “Good”.
It’s never too early to start learning about chores and how to help out in the house!Now that your child is getting better at following directions feel free to intertwine basic “chores” into the daily routine.
It could be as simple as cleaning up. From an early age we started the clean up song even when he did not speak just so he got used to the melody and words. At this point you can sing it along with them and see if they hum along or imitate any of the words. Just hearing the song will trigger cleaning up after playtime or even mealtime. Once they get used to the routine they will begin cleaning up on their own, sometimes even singing the song all by themselves!
Specific directions you can give is “Give me your cup/plate/fork and let’s put it in the sink” (they most likely cannot reach yet even with a step stool, but it’s good to practice), “Put your ____ in the dishwasher”, “Throw it in the garbage”, “Go get me a paper towel”, “Put your socks away” (or any clothing), “Walk the dog”, etc. We even found working on colors while doing laundry is an excellent receptive language task (e.g. – dark vs. light or putting all the red socks together).
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! ☺
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A great way to achieve 2-3 word phrases is to learn words other than nouns. This can include prepositions, adjectives, etc. This week we will talk specifically about using size descriptor words to expand phrases.
The first step as always is modeling what you want your child to say. In terms of size, “big” always seems to stand out. Try to find huge items in the home or outside such as big chair, big slide, etc. to comment on. A tip is to also make a big deal about it in order to emphasize it – “Wow look that’s a big moon!”. They may initially imitate the word “big”, so keep adding onto that word by verbally modeling such as “Yes it’s a big step”, “You’re right that’s a big orange”, etc.
Once they get the hang of that you can target the opposite “small”. We like to target this by starting with a big piece of fruit and cutting it up into smaller pieces to show them the difference. It’s a great activity to do with play dough as well! And feel free to use synonyms such as “tiny” when you’re teaching size. Other size concepts later on could be short vs. tall, wide vs. narrow, etc.
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!