Category : Expressive Language

Expressive Language

Hands on Learning Games: Use Wordless Picture Books to Improve Your Child’s Expressive Language

Does your child have difficulty expressing himself? Often children with delayed language development have a meager vocabulary to draw from when speaking. They may have a lot to say, but don’t know what words to use.

Being able to speak fluently requires numerous skills. Your child needs to have a rich vocabulary of words, as well as be able to recall those words quickly.  He needs to be able to understand his listener’s point of view, so that he can add important information if necessary. And lastly, he also needs to know how to organize his thoughts so that what he says is coherent and makes sense.

In previous posts I’ve mentioned several ways your child can improve her expressive language skills: creating stories from a fun trip, playing the command card game, -even creating a strategy guide for their favorite video game.

In this hands-on learning game, your child will use wordless picture books to build her vocabulary, improve her memory, and practice her sequencing skills.

Materials:

Your favorite wordless picture book. There are plenty to choose from, but here’s a list of great wordless picture books to browse.

How to Play:

1) Flip through the book and decide whether or not you will focus on nouns or verbs. This depends on what you want to accomplish with your child, as well as which the book lends itself.

If the book has a different character for each page (similar to “The Farmer in the Dell” or “Brown Bear” –which is not wordless but still a great choice) then you would choose to focus on nouns. If the book has one main character, then you would choose verbs.

2) Assign one word to each page. You can ask your child to think of the word by saying, “What is that?” or “What are they doing?” When your child answers, condense that answer to one word, and repeat it as you point to the picture. If your child has difficulty naming the picture, tell them the correct word.

3) After 2 to 3 pictures, ask your child to name the noun or verb for each page. You can choose to use the pictures as a clue if your child is younger or has moderate to severe language delays.  Otherwise, you can simply close the book and ask them to name the words that they heard.

Don’t worry if this is difficult for them in the beginning; help them out if necessary by giving a hint (first letter, first few sounds in the word). It’s better for your child to be successful with hints than fail with no help at all.

TIP: You can have your child name and remember pictures in groups of 3, so that they never have to remember more than three pages at a time. If this is too easy for your child, you can have your child remember 4 at a time, or require that they remember all of the pages.

You would do this by: first having your child remember the first 3 pages, then add on one page, asking your child to remember all 4. Continue adding on a new page until your child knows all of the pages in the book.

 

 

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Expressive Language

Hands on Learning Games: Teach Your Child Words that Describe Space (Over, Inside, Below,etc.)

Often children with weak language development have great difficulty using words that describe where they or other objects are in space. You might find your child saying "inside" when she meant to say "outside," or substituting under for over.

Children easily confuse these words -called concepts of space- because it is difficult for them to form a mental image of what they represent. These are words have no meaning in and of themselves; they have to be followed or preceeded by another, more descriptive word.

One of the ways you can help your child understand and remember what you mean is to play games that help him visualize what these words mean. Here are 2 games you can play with your child to help them master concepts of space:

Twister Fister

This is a variation on the popular game "Twister." However, instead of getting all tangled up on a game mat, your child will fit themselves inside, under, over, etc. impossible spaces.

Materials:

- One set of cards with descriptive words on one side. Suggested words are: inside, outside, over, under, around, next to, beside, on, and  in.

- On the other side of each card, paste a picture of an object that's appropriate for that word. Then make an X to demonstrate where the child should place themselves.

For example, one card can have "under" written on one side, with a picture of a table on the other side. Under the table you would draw a large red X.

How to Play:

1. Put the set of cards on the table. Make sure that the side with the word is face-up.

2. Let your child choose a card from the pile. If they can read, they should read the word on the card. If not, you can read it for them.

3. They may then flip the card over and see what their task is. Explain to them if necessary that the X tells them where they should go.

Demonstrate if necessary. Be sure to emphasize the key word: "This is UNDER. Sit UNDER the table."

4. Your child can play this game with a partner. Deal the cards out between the two children. The child who finishes their cards the first is the winner.

TIP: You can make this game harder by making a separate set of cards with only the key words on it. Your child chooses a card, and then has to find (on her own) an item where the action can be carried out.

The Farm Game

This is a classic Montessori game that you can play at home. In it, you use a farm set to teach your child space concepts. You don't actually have to use a real farm set; you could make one out of cardboard, or you could substitute another setting, such as a police station, fire station, doll house, or other playset. You could also make up your own playset using blocks or Legos.

Materials:

-Play animals or people

- Playset, as explained above.

- cards with space words written on them (see above game for detailed list)

1) Set up the playset. Your child may arrange things as he sees fit, but just make sure he has items that are appropriate for each action.

2) Have your child draw a card. She then chooses an animal or a person, and decides where to place them. For example, if she draws the word "under," she can take the horse and place them under a toy tree.

3) Your child continues drawing cards and choosing animals or people until all cards are used up.

TIP: You can make this game a little more complicated by making up a little story as your child goes through the game. For example, you could say, "One day the little brown horse (your child then has to take the horse) was outside in the fields (she then has to place him outside in the "field").

"It started to rain, so she ran and stood under a tree." You and your child can take turns telling the story, if your child is able, or you can just let your child choose the animal or the action, if she likes.

 

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Expressive Language

Hands-on Learning Games: Improve Your Child’s Vocabulary

This hands-on learning game is great for improving your child's vocabulary. A game that is easy to make and fun to play, both gifted children and children who have speech delays will benefit from playing.

Parents whose children suffer from language delays can use this game to help build up their child's everyday vocabulary, or to teach new concepts.

Often children who have language delays have trouble learning and recalling the names of common objects. This results from a weak auditory memory. They may also speak in very simple sentences, and struggle in general to express themselves.

On the other hand, many children with language delays are great spatially, and have good visual memories. They are often able to find their way around easily, are good at finding lost items. They may also be talented in fields like dance, sports, or building things.

Because this game uses your child's strong visual memory to help bolster his weak auditory skills, your child will actually acquire and retain what he learns. Seeing the actual object is a strong reinforcer for him, especially if it is something found in his house.

Parents of gifted children will also find this game useful. You can use this game as a springboard for new concepts. If your gifted child is still too young to read, you can use the cards and pictures to teach her the names of various things, such as the parts of a flower, the names of common trees, or unusual parts of the body.

If your child can already read, she can use the game alone as an introduction to material she will read later on.

Materials:

Index cards with box

How to Make the Game:

If you'd like to teach common household objects, make a card for each object you'd like to teach. All words should be items that you actually have in the house. You can use also use this game to teach transportation, wild animals, parts of the body, names of different types of trees, or practically anything else. For less common items, you can use miniatures, or pictures of the actual object pasted onto an index card.

1) Choose your items. Make a list of about ten items. Write clearly in print the name of the object; the word should be at least 1 1/2 inches long. It's probably easier and quicker to type it, and print it out on cardstock.

2)Read a card out loud. Choose one card, and read it aloud to your child. Then ask your child to find the object. If the child has difficulty, show them where the object is, and have them place the card next to or on top of the item.

3)Play with no more than 10-15 cards at a time. No more than 20% of the cards you use should be new to your child. If these are all new vocabulary, then start with 5 cards, adding more only when your child knows nearly all of them.

Tip: You can also learn actions this way; read the card out loud, and show the child the action that goes with it. Don't limit yourself to walk, run, and skip. Try out dribble, slouch, or saunter for a change. If you show your child what you mean, these words need not be harder than any other.

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Expressive Language Miscellaneous

3 Everyday Activities You Do Everyday That Can Improve Your Child’s Expressive Language Skills

One of the hardest things about helping your child improve their expressive language skills is getting all the materials you need to work with your child ready to go.

You can teach your child through everyday activities around the house

As a mom of 7, I know that sometimes by the time you find the game, set it up, and get ready to play, it might already time for dinner and baths! That's why I'm always looking for opportunities to build in learning that don't require any extra work- just a little bit of mental planning.

In previous posts, I wrote about improving your child's learning skills at the park, or while shopping with your child. Now I'd like to give you some easy games you can play with your child right at home.

I use these games with my own kids, and teach them to parents just like you. So dig in, and leave a comment below!

1. Help your child learn to state categories of common objects

There are plenty of sorting and categorization games out there. Most of them require that your child sort actual objects, or pictures of objects, according to the correct category.

That's a great activity, but it's really just the  beginning. Your child also needs to be able to name the category as well. A lot of children, however, find it difficult to do this with pictures; it's too abstract.

A better bet: you can teach your child the same thing as you and he clean up his room together. First sweep everything on the floor into a big pile. Then have your child separate everything out into several smaller piles: one for clothing, one for toys, one for books, and one for garbage if need be.

Once your child is about halfway through sorting, you'll be able to cue him to focus on categories as he puts his things away. For example, when he picks up a sock, say, "Oh, that's a sock. That's clothing. Put it with the rest of the clothing." Gradually as your child picks up other items, you can ask them to tell you what it is - clothing, toys, books, or garbage.

You can do the same thing when you bring  home groceries from the  store. Letting your child help you put everything away will also help her improve her visual memory, as well, since she has to remember where everything goes.

The trick to making this work is to have your child put away most of the items in a category before he starts on another category. That way, when he puts things away, you can remind him "Oh, that's a vegetable too. Put it with the rest of the vegetables."

Later when everything's put away you can point to the vegetable bin and say, "Here's where we put all the __" letting your child fill in the blank. Do the thing with the other food items: dairy, frozen foods, and so on.

2. Encourage your child to use her descriptive skills by describing lost objects.

How many times has your child lost something, and needed your help to find it? Our usual response is to just go and help our kids find it, or to have them check the last place they had it.

Instead, try asking your child to describe what the object looks like, where it was last, or what they were doing, using more details. So for example, if your child says "I can't find my flashlight!" Ask your child to tell you more: "What color was it? Can you tell me what it looked like so I can help you find it? Was it small or big?"

Even if you already know what it looks like, you can often feign ignorance with younger children, and get them to explain themselves.

For older children, you can encourage them to talk about what they were doing when they had the missing item, by rephrasing what they've said, and saying, "and then what did you do?"

3. Encourage your child to explain why they want something.

It happens probably a dozen times a day or more: your child wants something from you. But whether you plan to give your child the item or not, it's a good idea to ask your child why. That forces them to use words to express themselves, and helps them attach their feelings to their needs. This is a form of sequencing that's critical for kids with weak language development.

And by the way, did you notice these are all great activities for improving your child's sequencing skills?

Would you like to see more activities like this? Let me know in the comments below.


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Expressive Language

Hands on Learning: How Chocolate Chip Cookies Can Improve Your Preschooler’s Expressive Language

If you’ve ever done traditional speech therapy exercises with your child, you know how boring they can get sometimes.

Okay, maybe I shouldn’t say that, but…it’s true more times than not. The bigger problem with standard speech therapy exercises, however, is they just don’t seem to connect with your child’s life: they feel like school homework.

This hands on learning game is a speech therapy exercise in disguise: it’s great for improving your child’s expressive language, and your child will have fun too – guaranteed!

This is how the game works: you’ll bake a fun recipe with your child, taking pictures of the steps along the way. While your child is busy eating the products of her creation, she will sequence the pictures in the order they happened, telling you briefly about each picture.

My three little ones (ages 6, 4 ½, and 3 ½) did this hands on learning activity in less than hour. Because it was a relevant, recent experience full of a lot of meaning, even the child with the most serious language issues was able to briefly explain each picture.

Materials

-your favorite child friendly recipe

How to Play

1) Lay out the ingredients you will use for your recipe in one spot. Take a picture.

2) Start making the recipe, taking pictures at key points. For example, we made chocolate cookies. So I took pictures when we mixed in an ingredient, when we stirred, when we actually shaped the cookies, when the unbaked cookies were waiting to be put in the oven, on a plate after being baked, and – while the kids ate and enjoyed them!

That’s a lot of steps, which would normally be too hard for your child to sequence. But with a little help from siblings or myself, every child was able to say what each picture represented and sequence the pictures in the order that they took place.

TIP: If you have a child that can read already, you can write down what the child says on a sentence strip, one strip for each picture. Your child can then read the strip, and then find the picture that matches it.

If your child has trouble sequencing or is very young, print out two copies of each picture. Then tape all of them together sequentially in one long strip. Now your child can simply match his individual pictures to the ones on the strip.
 
 

 

 

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Expressive Language

Hands-on Learning Games: Improve Your Child’s Vocabulary

improve your child's vocabulary

The ability to communicate effectively is one of the most important skills a child needs in order to succeed in school. Children who can persuade, defend, elaborate- or even   exaggerate - have a distinct advantage over their less fortunate peers.

A child who possesses a good command of language is better able to manipulate ideas in his head, examine the various shadings of word meaning, and connect ideas common to several seemingly unrelated topics.

The child who is unfortunate enough to suffer from weak language skills, on the other hand, is often misunderstood, maligned, and made fun of. He may be considered less intelligent than his peers or other family members, since his inability to express himself is often assumed to be due to a lack of intelligence.

If your child often has difficulty recalling words, describing his day at school, or explaining why he feels he should stay up later, then you already know how frustrating this can be.

Fortunately, it is possible to help your child improve his vocabulary within a relatively short period of time. The following hands-on learning game is easy to make and fun to play. It can be played with children as young as 3 years old, and is also good for ESL learners or for those wishing to teach their child a second language.

Materials:

-index cards

-recipe box

-rubber bands

How to Make the Game:

-Choose 10 names of objects you would find around the house, and write them on the cards. Make sure that your child knows at least 8 of the 10 names. This is to ensure that he feels successful when he plays the game. No one wants to play a game where they don’t know the answers, and making sure he is at least 80% successful ensures that he is sufficiently challenged and motivated enough to play the game.

- If your child is a non-reader, show him the card, and tell him what it says. Ask him to look around and find the object. Readers can read the card on their own.

-When he finds the object, instruct him to lay the card on top of or next to the object.

-When your child doesn’t know one of the words, name the card, and show him where he object is. Instruct him to place the card next to it.

-Once your child masters a card he doesn’t know, add another card with the name of an unfamiliar object.

TIP:

-       This game can be played with an endless amount of variations. Instead of writing a noun on the cards, you can write a verb or adjective. You can write short sentences, and ask your child to act them out: “Sit on the floor and kick the door.”

-       You can write a short paragraph for the reader, and ask them to act it out. This can help them understand the finer meanings of words that he might not otherwise understand.

An example might be: “The girl looked around her, eyes wide with fear. Clutching her sweater in one hand, she slowly turned around in a circle, peering at the shadows which shifted around her in the failing light.”

Acting it out will also allow her to demonstrate her understanding of the piece for you in a way that is less stressful than the “simple state and repeat the definition,” method.
 
 

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Expressive Language

Hands-On Learning Games: Improve Your Child’s Expressive Language Skills

expressive language skills

Hands-on learning games are a great way of helping your child build his expressive language skills. Being able to express one's self is a crucial skill that affects every aspect of your child's life. Not being able to explain himself, persuade his listeners, or simply share a funny event because he has an expressive language disorder can seriously impact your child 's self-esteem.

Imagine being unable to explain why you had a bad day in class, or why you want to go to a friend's house. Or, what if you wanted to convince your sister to let you borrow her bike, but you didn't have the words you needed to persuade her?

You may find your child is easily frustrated, since he can't use language effectively. He might resort to hitting, kicking, or even biting when he doesn't get his way, because he cannot use language to help him solve conflicts with others.

The best way to help your child is to give her plenty of opportunities to play with language, in a fun, engaging activity that doesn't pressure her to produce. This hands-on learning game is perfect as it allows your child to strengthen her language in a totally naturally way, and even lets her use visuals to help get her point across.

In order to play this game, you will need to take a trip first with your child to a fun place. During the trip, make sure to take separate pictures of  everyone who goes with you on the trip. You should also take pictures of all the main events. For example, if you go to an amusement park, take a picture of each ride and game that your child plays.

You should also take pictures of your child as they leave the house to go on the trip. If you plan to travel by car, take a picture of your child sitting in the car. You will use all of these pictures to act as cues to help your child tell a story about his trip.

Materials:

Card stock (to print out the pictures on)

Regular size photo album (to store the pictures in a story format)

How to Play:

  1. You're going to make a story of your child's trip using the pictures you took. First, organize the pictures in the order in which they occurred. You can separate the pictures according to the different events that took place during the trip.
  2. Your child should sit on the floor or at a large table with plenty of space to move the pictures around. Point to a picture of your child, and ask, "Who's this?" in a playful manner.
  3. Place that picture to your child's left.
  4. Now take an event picture, and place it to the right of the first picture. You have now created a sentence, only with pictures instead of words.
  5. Say to your child, "This is - (your child should say his name, or "me ," if he is able to.) Next point to the event picture, and ask your child to name it.
  6. Lastly, your child should put the two together : "I rode on the merry-go-round."
  7. Underneath the merry-go round picture place another event picture. Point to the picture of your child, prompting him to say, "I rode in the  bumper cars."
  8. Continue with the rest of the pictures.

Tip: You can make this game harder by letting your child sequence all the pictures himself. Instead of telling you the story bit-by bit with in sentence form, he should first arrange the pictures in story form, and then tell the entire story using his own words.

Don't forget to reward your child at the end of your learning session! It need not be a large reward, but it should be something that is enticing to your child. It could be a treat, or it could be being allowed to stay up a half-hour past bedtime, or going to a park you don't usually visit.
 
 

 
 

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