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! ☺
At this point your child is trying to imitate sounds and words. They may even be saying quite a few words on their own. Some may also be trying out phrases they’ve been hearing you say the past 18 months. It is a fact that every child is different, but one piece of advice is to keep your language consistent to make it easy for your child to understand, store in their memory, and someday use on their own. Here are some phrases that we often hear toddlers say early on and ones you might want to emphasize on a daily basis.
-Hi/Bye Bye + person/item
-More + item
-No + item
-I want + item
-Person + up/down
-Come + person
-Out + person
-Here you go
-Turn the page
-Wait + person
-Where + person/item?
-What is it?
-Why + person?
Your toddler is still quite a blank slate. Whether you are part of a different culture or not, we think it’s a beautiful thing to introduce them to other cultures! Here are some ways you can do so!
Taking a Trip – I know this one is easier said than done, but going to another country or even another state opens your toddler’s eyes to another world! It exposes them to different foods, languages, interactions, and more!
Museums – Often museums such as the Museo Del Barrio in Spanish Harlem or Museum of Native American History downtown near City Hall offers celebrations and music classes to introduce different cultures to little ones. It’s a great way to have them a get a taste of the traditions and beats they’ve never heard before!
Bilingual Storytimes – If you get a chance check out one of the local libraries or playspaces for storytime opportunities in a different language. Often they will use puppets, finger play, repetitive stories, and songs from the specific culture. Even if your child learns a couple words it’s great way to show them that there are other cultures out there and we should embrace them.
Classes – If you see your child is interested in other languages or you want them to speak a 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) language that your family speaks it’s never too early to bring them to language classes. Teachers often make it fun and hands-on so they can generalize new words quickly!
Overall, our goal to introducing Roman to other cultures is to increase his cultural awareness. We think it is important for him to know that people live differently, interact in various ways, celebrate in unique styles, and more! This is what makes the world a beautiful place!
Now that your child’s schedule and behavior is more predictable take them out to eat! It’s a great way to practice first words and social skills. Yes at times it could be stressful, but for the most part it is a great learning experience about restaurant “etiquette” as well. It’s also great preparation for vacation since you cannot always eat in. Here are some opportunities for language learning!
Greetings – Have your child wave or say “Hi” and “Bye” to anyone who seats you and the waiters and waitresses.
Polite Markers – Have them practice the sign for “Thank you” or even saying an approximation of it. You verbally modeling polite makers is great too!
Asking for Help – Opening items and using utensils can often be difficult for toddlers, so it is a perfect opportunity to ask for assistance.
Using Utensils and Cups – At this age your child should try to be feeding themselves and learning to drink from a cup. Use physical prompting as needed.
Ordering and Labeling Food – If they’re up to it you can have them order food in 1-2 word phrases… they can always imitate what you say! If they do not order independently have them point at a picture of their desired breakfast, lunch, or dinner. When it arrives point and label each item.
Requesting toys – Many restaurants have items such as crayons to keep kids busy. Have your child request an item if possible.
Talk about Temperature, Taste, Color, Texture, and Smell – Comment on foods by using words such as “hot”, “cold”, “yummy”, “salty”, “sour”, “sweet”, “bumpy”, etc.
Practice Basic Conversation – Ask basic questions such as “Do you like it?” or “Do you want more?” to target answers such as “yes” or “more”.
Last week we talked about top sensory activities and this week we’re targeting a specific activity – water play. We chose water play because our children are near water so often – while washing dishes, brushing teeth, taking a bath, while outside, etc. You don’t have to have a pool to play – just fill up a bucket! Below are some words you can target while playing in water!
- In/Out/Under (we love doing this with ocean animals!)
- Pour (best with cups)
- Turn on/Turn off
- Race/Ready Set Go
- Marco Polo! ☺
Now that your toddler is crawling and walking all about this is the best time to try a few unique experiences with them. Before you head out, think of some target words that you want them to learn throughout the experience. For instance, if you are going to a farm you can name farm animals, the food that is in season, actions that the animals are doing, novel words such as wagon or flowers, etc. Here are a few fun places we think encourage the most language… they might not be new to us, but for them it’s very exciting! Let your kids explore and go wild – of course without getting into any trouble!
– Amusement Park
– Fire Station
– Post Office
– Toy Store