Sometimes we have to resort to those high-tech iDevices that will keep our kids mesmerized for minutes at a time. But sometimes, taking a break from the battery operated plaything can give you the chance to tailor your language environment during play with your child, to maximize word learning.
Blocks! They are cheap, easy to transport, and give a lot of opportunity for building vocabulary and social language skills. I know they are somewhere in that toy box... here’s what you can do:
For the younger toddler, stacking is a great fine motor activity, which can also be paired with language. Placing blocks inside a container and dumping them out can also entertain your little one for quite sometime! Maybe make a homemade shape sorter from an old tissue box or oatmeal container, if you’re feeling ambitious.
In addition to stacking, you can also make a choo-choo train that moves to different “buildings” or “towers.” Use verbs such as “go, push, move” while you narrate the train’s movements.
Introduce prepositions such as in, on, and under. Start with just one of them, use lots of repetition and encourage your child to respond to simple questions. “Where is the red block? It’s on the box! You say it.”
Practice turn-taking with building towers. “Mommy’s turn, now your turn!” Compare your towers by using superlative concepts:
- big, bigger, biggest
- small, smaller, smallest
- long, longer, longest
- short, shorter, shortest
Talk about size/number concepts (some, many, few, more, less). “Who has more blocks? Mommy or Daddy? Mommy has more blocks”
Other vocabulary words to target during play with these traditional cubed toys:
Remember that the main way your child will learn to talk and acquire language... is you. Provide a rich language environment to maximize their opportunity for new word learning.