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:
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.
- 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.
-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.