24 Months 3 Weeks – Concept of Recurrence

Roman wanting more chips At this point your child may have graduated from using just “more” to get more of an item.  You are going to see more novel word combinations such as “I want that too” or “I want another one”.  The best way to encourage these phrases is by verbally modeling them yourself and creating opportunities for your children to use them.  

To create these opportunities, only give your children a little bit of each item.  For instance, if their eating Cheerios just give them 5 since they are obviously going to want more.  You can then show it to them in your hand to motivate a phrase that requires recurrence (or a fancy word for more!).  

There are many times throughout the day you can do this such as mealtime, snack time, play time (e.g. – withholding blocks), story time (e.g. – do not turn the page and have them ask for  more of the book), bath time, etc.  We love finding fun, new ways to extend phrases!

24 Months – Narrating One’s Own Actions During Play

Roman lining up his toys in pretend play 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.  

23 Months 3 Weeks – Playing Doctor & How to Encourage Language

Roman loves flowers By this time your toddler is really getting a handle of basic body parts such as eyes, nose, mouth, legs, etc.  It’s a perfect time to build on that during play.  For instance, you can use it while playing a game of tickling, modified Simon Says, or our favorite pretend play with a doctor kit.

A medical kit contains a ton of items such as a bandaid, stethoscope, needle, thermometer, etc. and it gives your child a chance to act out a familiar routine.  If your child is labeling individual body parts, you can use the pretend play to expand to 2-3 word phrases.  If you’re focused on your nose you can say “Uh Oh!  Nose (is) broken!” or “Oh no!  (My) nose hurts!  Many children find it funny when “something goes wrong”, so the language will stand out to them!

Later on, you can expand work on more advanced body parts such as “elbow” and requesting specific items such as “shot”.  It’s also a way to work on initiating questions such as “Are you okay?”, “What hurts?”, “What happened?”, etc.  You can even work on commenting using temperature such as “You feel hot”.  It even works on the skills of empathy and how others could be feeling.  All in all, it’s a great way to expand their imagination and may even make them less scared of going to the real doctor!  

23 Months 2 Weeks – Never Too Early to Work on the /s/ Sound

Do you hear your toddler producing /s/ with their tongue out? It’s never too early to model the correct production and try to correct it.  Lisps are often very difficult to correct as a child gets older, so our motto is the earlier the better!

This part is too complicated for toddlers, but just so you know as an adult we produce the /s/ sound by putting our tongue tip on the alveolar ridge (bumpy ridge right behind our top teeth).  You can show a toddler this by having them look at you or looking at a mirror while you overemphasize the sound to try to show them where their tongue goes.  Sometimes we even like to use a tongue depressor or our finger to show them where our bumpy ridge is – for older children we even put a little bit of peanut butter on the spot so they know where their tongue is supposed to touch.  

TAG As for the manner in which the sound is produced it is called a fricative, which means it is a “hissing” type sound and air escapes through the teeth causing friction.  One thing you can do which works with my toddler is bringing your teeth together or telling them to bite down while producing /s/.  This may sound a bit exaggerated, but it makes sure their tongue does not come out.

Many other articulation errors are age-appropriate and can be categorized into phonological processes or patterns, but it is definitely important to keep an eye out and always model correct production.  These issues sometimes grow into articulation disorders (which later may manifest themselves into problems with reading and writing) and you want your child to be understood by all listeners and to be able to form friendships easily.  

TAGWe have two resources if you need further help. Our interactive iBooks: Vowels & Diphthongs and our Consonants iBook.

22 Months 1 Week – Combining Chores with Following Directions

Roman dancing. 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).

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21 Months 1 Week – Using Size Descriptor Words

Roman Happy 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.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Roman big and heavyThe 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.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Roman loves targetOnce 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.

21 Months – Helping your Toddler Create Phrases with Possessive Words

roman with his lightsWe 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!

20 Months 2 Weeks – Creating “Uh Oh” Situations to Encourage Commenting 

Water spilledAs 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!”.                                                                                          

Blocks falling downDuring 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.  

UHOhiBookCover

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!  

21 Months 1 Week – Using Size Descriptor Words

Roman Happy 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.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Roman big and heavyThe 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.                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Roman loves targetOnce 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.