Tag Archives: 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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Language Development

Improve Your Child’s Expressive Language through Video Games – Language Development

Is your child struggling to make himself understood?

If your child has an expressive language disorder, you know how frustrating it can be. I know there were times when one of my children was desperate to tell me about something important in school, but just wasn't able to get his point across clearly.

He felt badly because he really wanted my advice about what to do, and I felt badly because I wanted to help him but didn't have enough info to help him.

Most of the exercises for helping your child speak better are artificial and just not fun.

If you've ever had to sit through the typical exercises given for helping your child's expressive language skills, you know they can get pretty boring.

Often you have to ask your child to state the correct word (fill in the blank), answer questions, or something other school like activity. And after a whole day of school, which was probably not the easiest experience for your child to begin with.

Let's just say that most parents and kids lose their enthusiasm real quick.

On top of everything, those exercises feel artificial. Real life is more spontaneous, and full of more social interaction than a fill in the blank. You just can't imagine  how it'll all transfer over to real-life.

Creating a game guide of his favorite video game will help your child speak better.

Talk to your child about his favorite video game, on the other hand, and watch instantly as his eyes light up, his voice becomes more animated - he's psyched and ready to go on for days.

They're a subject he has extensive experience with (so he's an expert- a great ego boost), and is enthusiastic about. Plus he gets to create a useful product for others to learn from: that makes him a winner, "cool."

At the same time, your child will be polishing his sequencing skills, improving his sentence structure, learning how to paraphrase, as well as a host of other skills. Ready to dive in?

How to Play:

1) Explain to your child that they are going to create a game guide for other kids on how to play their favorite video game. Younger children might choose to make a basic guide, while older children and teenagers can choose to make a walkthrough, or an “expert” or guru guide.

2) Let your child decide what format her presentation will be in. She can choose to make a video, a podcast, or a PowerPoint presentation. If she chooses to make a video, she can use a screen capture program such as Camtasia to record what is seen on the computer screen.

If your child chooses to make a podcast or other audio recording, there are many free programs she can use to audit their recording. Audacity is one such program that is both free and of high quality.

PowerPoint presentations can include screenshots (use the “print screen” button on your keyboard and crop out the unnecessary stuff), but you can also add music (try Musicloops for free music) to spice things up.

3) Help your child sketch out a basic outline for their presentation. Explain to them that in order to be effective, it minimally needs to include the following elements:

  • Goal of the game
  • Basic explanation of what you need to do on each level
  • Tips and hints

Have your child first create each section individually as a rough draft; they can put the parts together later.

4) Next, have your child turn on the video game. They will create material as they play, so they will have a better idea of what they need to write. If they can’t pause the game after each level, then let them play the game once through and then write material for each section immediately afterwards.

Younger children might need you to help them: ask them questions about the game, and write down their answers (if they have difficulty writing) or give them time to write the answers on their own.

5) Help your child revise and edit each section. Don’t worry about spelling or punctuation; let spell check do that for your child. You are more concerned with your child’s ability to give over information in a clear, fairly concise manner.

That means your child should make sure that someone who is a complete newbie to the game should be able to understand their guide. Encourage them to show it to a family member or a friend (if they’re feeling brave) who is not familiar with the game, explaining that this is what everyone who creates a how-to guide does before they publish their work.

6) Create the final product. If your child is making a PPT presentation, she can write everything out on slides, taking screenshots when necessary. She should first write it out, taking the screenshots afterwards; she might need your help with this, as it requires quick hands and some pasting and cropping.

If your child is creating a video, he now has a good idea of a script. He needn’t memorize it; since he’s written it and he’s of course familiar with the game, it merely acts as a prompt for him to ensure he’s said everything he should say.

7)  Share it with the world. The best part of creating this guide is sharing it with other game fans. Your child can post it on gamer sites, or he can upload it to the following free sites:

  • Video: Your child can upload to just YouTube, or he can use TubeMogul or Traffic Geyser to upload the video to multiple sites.
    • PowerPoint Presentation: Your child can submit their PPT to these sites for free:   Slideshare, Slideboom, Authorstream, and Slideburner. You can also easily turn their PPT into a PDF using PrimoPDF, which is free. You can then submit the PDF version to these sites: Calameo, Butterfly, Yudu , Esnips, and Scribd.
  • Podcast or audio presentation: Submit to these sites for free: podcast.com, iTunes, dayo, and podcastalley.
  • Written report: Since your child’s report will be very similar to a step-by-step tutorial, your child can submit it to these sites for free:  e-how.com, tutorialized.com, Good-Tutorials.com, and Designm.ag.

Whichever site your child chooses to submit their guide, they can use Pingler and SocialMarker to submit the URL of their product to dozens of social bookmarking sites. Both are free and will help their guide get noticed, hopefully sending traffic from other like-minded gamers.

Most importantly, your child will be on their way to improving their expressive language skills, all in a fun and novel way.

If you liked this post, why not like it on Facebook? Better yet, why not tell me what you think in the comments below?

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Language Development

Expressive Language: Why Your Child Doesn’t Ask Why

So you've managed to improve your child’s expressive language skills. They can converse with people outside of your family.

They understand that conversation is a back and forth process, with one person asking, while the other answers.

And yet, you find that your child’s speech is curiously flat. After careful consideration, you realize that they still don’t ask “why.” If you have other children, you can’t but help but be struck by the difference: on the one hand, a child as young as two will ask over and over again, “Why Mommy?” On the other hand, your language-delayed child seems to be content with things as they are.

You know she’s intelligent, so what gives?

The answer lies in your child’s inability to understand.

Understanding something is not an either/or situation.

Most of us think of understanding as either/or: either you understand something, or you don’t. In reality, being able to understand something is much more complex than that. Understanding is something that takes place on different levels, over a period of time. It changes constantly as we use what we already know about something in order to interpret and gain insights about something new.

Furthermore, your child’s ability to understand depends on what kind of material they’re being asked to understand (visual, auditory, etc.) how much they need to understand at once, and whether children are capable of self-evaluating their understanding.

Here are some common reasons that affect your child’s ability to understand:

Weak language development

Even though your child might seem to be better at speaking, there are numerous levels of language that your child needs to be good at in order to communicate effectively.

Many children’s language development looks a lot like a mine field in a third world country: some safe areas, with lots of areas that may or may not be okay. For example, your child might seem fine in everyday conversation, but his knowledge of words and their meanings could hamper how much he understands things at home and at school.

Another child might seem fine at home in all areas, but the special vocabulary that school requires might not be in his repertoire.

Your child needs to be proficient in language at the word, sentence, and paragraph level. They also need to have the ability to reflect on how language works, and be able to apply language in social situations.

Incomplete concept formation

A concept is basically a bunch of specific ideas that can be grouped together to form a general idea. For example, if I want to understand what a car is, I would have to take into account the specific features that make a car what it is – and not a helicopter, raft, or ice floe. Here’s an example of the beginnings of a concept map for a car:


Now of course there’s a lot more you could add to this concept map (and not being a car fanatic I’m sure you could correct me on a few points :), but you get the idea.

Being able to hold in mind a concept leaves you free to consider the bigger picture, instead of holding on to thousands of details. Some children, however, have trouble seeing the big picture, even though they have all the details. They can’t intuit a concept from the bits and pieces that they have.

Slow data processing

Ever tried to work on a computer that was functioning slowly for some reason? It may have been a good computer- even a newer model – but for reasons unknown seemed to take forever to process the most basic of things.

Some children, though intelligent, are a little like that. They need more time than most people, whether at home or at school, realize. Perhaps they think things through more thoroughly, or on a deeper level. Regardless of the reason, they’ll get there if you’ll just give them the time.

Unfortunately, with our fast-paced life, these children don’t often get the time they need in order to get to the finish line. They may appear bewildered and confused: they were still processing the first half of what you (or the teacher) said, but you’ve already sped along to the conclusion.

Small chunk size capacity

Some children can only process a certain amount of material at a time. While their friends and classmates are busy swallowing whole bucket loads of information, they’re daintily nibbling on a bowlful. As time goes on, children are expected to handle larger and larger amounts of information at a time, these children often fall behind.

 

Too creative, or too intent on playing by the rules

Being creative can be a boon in a lot of ways. Interpreting a picture, giving your opinion about why a character acted as they did, or composing a dramatic first-person story are all examples where creativity is especially valued.

Sometimes, however, children are expected to stick “to the facts, and nothing but the facts.” A child who is too much of a “top-down processor,” or who interprets information largely upon how they think or feel, might have trouble knowing when to elaborate, and when to play by the rules.

The opposite can also occur: children who are so black and white, so intent on staying between the lines, that they fail when they need to give their own original input. These children are called “bottom- down processors.” They do great on math tests, fill in the blank, or other clear cut situations, but fail miserably in situations that aren’t clear cut, require brainstorming, essays, or original stories.

These are just some of the reasons why your child has trouble asking why questions. I’ll admit, it’s a little complicated. But before you start hopping off to spend a lot of money on social stories books, reading comprehension series, or other materials, you need to pinpoint why your child is having the trouble they're having.

It’s a lot like taking an aspirin for a severe stomach ache: it might be indigestion, and it might not be. Wouldn’t you rather get to the bottom of things before you go under the knife?

 

Questions? Comments? I'd love to hear from you - share your thoughts below!

 

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Language Development

3 Reasons Why Your Child Has Weak Expressive Language Skills

help your child speak betterDoes your preschooler have difficulty describing to you what went on during her day?

Does she have trouble naming objects, substituting other words like “thingie” or “that round thing with cream inside,” instead of the real word? Does she seem to describe things in the wrong order, telling you what happened last, instead of first?

There are several reasons why your child has trouble expressing themselves. Here are a few of the most important ones:

Children who have expressive language weaknesses are usually very strong visually.

Visual thinkers often have trouble with sequencing, since they are associative thinkers. If you imagine the tag cloud on a blog, then you have a good idea of how a visual thinker processes information. Ideas are not necessarily connected to each other in a linear fashion, one idea following the other in an orderly fashion.

Instead, children may jump from one topic to another, seemingly in a random order. You might see this when your child discusses something with you. She may begin talking about the new dog her best friend has, move on to swimming class, and then end up animatedly discussing the trip you took last summer.

To auditory thinkers her thinking seems disorganized and flighty, since it doesn’t follow a logical, sequential order. For your daughter, however, there was a logical order. The dog is of a breed that is good at swimming – hence swimming class came to mind. Swimming made her think of water, which reminded her of the waterfall the family saw on the trip last summer.

Your child’s visual and auditory systems don’t work well together.

In order to process language effectively, your child’s auditory and visual system need to work together most of the time. Children who have trouble expressing themselves are sometimes so strong visually that their visual system shuts down their auditory system.

On the extreme end, for example with autistic children, the visual system is so strong that the auditory system appears not to work at all. Concerned parents might initially wonder if their child is deaf, but eventually notice that their child can hear sounds when they choose (are able) to.

Other children on the spectrum, for instance, children with ADHD or moderate language disorders, seem to have great difficulty paying attention. These children don’t always respond when their names are called, have trouble following directions, or have difficulty understanding what they read or hear.

A strong visual system can actually be a wonderful benefit; many famous inventors and thinkers were visual geniuses. But in order to benefit your child has to learn how to help both systems to work together.

A weak memory makes it hard for your child to remember what he hears.

One of the most difficult factors that affect how your child processes language is their ability to remember what they hear. Since there are different types of memory, different children can be affected in different ways.

For some children, what they hear seems to go in one ear and out the other. Others can practice a math fact, letter name, or history question over and over again – only to find out in the morning that it was if they had never learned the material.

Still others may perplex parents and teachers, seemingly possessed with stellar memories. These kids can remember the teeniest bit of information, whether it was 3 days ago or 3 years ago. However when you ask them to remember a particular fact, it’s as if the system has short-circuited, and they are unable to give the right answer.

All of the above can have a serious impact on children’s language skills. Fortunately, you can help your child to improve these skills. Hands on learning games that focus on these skills can make a huge difference in helping your child express themselves more effectively.

 

 

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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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Language Development

Language Development: Why is my child having trouble learning his ABC’s?

Most parents look forward with a bit of trepidation to their children learning to read. It’s a big step, and there is perhaps no other skill more important to your child’s development than reading.

So when your child finds learning to read difficult, it can be as devastating to you as it is to your child.

There are several reasons why your child might have trouble learning their alphabet. Of course all children are different, and you might find that your child’s reading difficulties are caused by more than thing on this list. However, be assured that your child will learn to read eventually.

Weak auditory memory

A strong auditory memory is what allows your child to remember what they hear. If your child’s auditory memory is weak, they’ll have trouble remembering that the m in man is the same sound as the m in map.

Recognizing initial sounds is one of the first steps in most phonics programs, so if your child has this problem, you’ll probably notice even before your child starts kindergarten.

Weak auditory – visual language association

This sounds complicated, but it really means that your child has trouble putting together an auditory piece of info with a visual one. Practically, that means that they can’t seem to associate the sound m with the letter m.

This was a minor problem for one son of mine, and a huge problem with a second. The second son also had a weak auditory memory on top of it, which made things that much harder.

Weak visual discrimination skills

In order for your child to read well, they need to be able to tell one letter from another. A child who has weak visual discrimination skills, finds this difficult to do. They may simply need glasses , which is easy to fix.

Believe it or not, this happens more frequently than parents realize, which is why I always insist kids get an eye exam before I do an evaluation. It’s not always easy to tell when a child needs glasses, especially if they’re young.

Weak visual closure skills

Visual closure is the skill that lets children put the whole picture together from the parts. So for example, let’s say you’re building a toy airplane for your daughter. A child with visual closure issues would have trouble looking at the pieces on the table and recognizing that you’re building an airplane.

Practically, if your child has weak visual closure skills, she might be able to read a word like hat, but when given the individual letters, won’t be able to make the word hat from them.

This problem is harder to see if your child’s teacher relies heavily on sight words. However in most classes, all alphabet learning involves building words, so your child would have trouble as soon as they start putting words together.

Weak auditory closure

This is similar to visual closure, except it involves sounds. So your child would have trouble blending words together(c-a-t). This can also become doubly complicated if your child also has even a mild weakness in auditory memory: by the time they get to the last letter, they might have forgotten what the initial letters were, and so be unable to read the word.

These may seem overwhelming, but don’t worry! I’ll be writing posts later on with specific activities that you can use to help your child overcome these weaknesses.

 

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Language Development

Practical Tips on How to Teach Your Child to Ask Questions

Practical Tips on How to Teach Your Child To Ask QuestionsIn my post yesterday I gave you some background on why your child finds it so hard to ask questions.

It was a bit complicated, I know, but I hope you weren’t discouraged, because there are some easy tips you can use to help your child develop a healthy curiosity in everything around her. In fact, these are the exact same methods I used over the last several months to help my foster daughter, who was severely delayed, learn to ask questions.

I actually caught myself the other day telling her, “NO MORE QUESTIONS” – at least for the next 15 minutes or so. (Okay, I wouldn’t recommend that, but hey- it was a really looooong day :)).

The tips below are really more than tips: they are alternate ways of speaking and acting with your child that will radically affect your child’s ability to question. I guarantee that if you use these methods a few times a week, you’ll see a significant improvement in your child.

Model asking questions

Asking questions might seem like a skill that comes naturally. After all, even babies and young children do it, albeit with gestures or facial expressions. However, we can not only teach our children how to ask questions, but we can teach them how to ask good questions.

One of the most effective ways of doing this is by modeling this skill for our children. There’s no need to conduct a scientific experiment in order to do so, however. There are numerous occurrences throughout the day that are great opportunities for sharing with your child the joys of why. Here are some tips on how

Create absurd situations

In order for your child to know how to ask questions, he first needs to notice that there is something unusual about the situation. You can help your child do this by using objects in ways they weren’t meant to be used, or putting them in places they don’t belong, in order to spark your child’s curiosity.

This works well for many children with language delays, since they usually have good visual memories (in contrast to weak auditory memory) and often remember where an object should be, who it belongs to, or what it should be used for – even if they don’t have the words to express themselves.

  • For example, when it’s time to put the groceries, take the milk, and put it in a cabinet. Look at your child with a surprised look on your face, and say “I wonder if I can leave the milk here.”

Even if they seem unperturbed, continue by asking your child, “Does milk go here?” If they have a hard time answering, give them a clue, “No, the milk goes in the refrigera-“ and let your child fill in the blank.

Then ask your child to put it away where it belongs. As they put it away, say with an exaggerated tone, “I see; if I don’t put it here it will spoil.”

One important thing to remember is that there’s a difference between asking questions, and knowing the answer to those questions. There’s no reason why you should expect your child to know or even remember the answers to the questions you ask.

This process of questioning is a lot like brainstorming, where your goal is to encourage as many questions as possible, without self-consciousness or censure.

That’s why the second part where you say why the milk can’t go in the cabinet is less important than the moment when your child looks at you with a question in his eyes. That look of “that was strange, Mommy” is what you’re after.

  • Try “accidentally” putting on your child’s shoes. Look bewildered as you try and fit it on your foot, and ask yourself while your child looks on, “I wonder why it doesn’t fit?” Then examine the shoe, examine your foot, measure one against the other, and look confused.

(Think of it as an audition for the clown act in Barnum and Bailey Brother’s circus).

Treat failure as a learning opportunity

Some parents rush in to correct their children when they see disaster occurring. Even when there’s no possibility of someone being hurt or something being damaged, these parents worry their children will feel badly about themselves if they experience failure.

In reality, failure is a lesson. It’s an invaluable opportunity to learn from your mistakes. Plus, it’s intimately connected to learning how to question: your child sees that something they anticipated didn’t work out as expected. Now they need to ask themselves, “why did that happen?”

Personally, I know how hard it is to watch a child fail, or even struggle. I’ve seen my LD children struggle over numerous things, and I’m not sure if it gets easier with time. I can say, however, that allowing my children to fail –even just a little bit- is key to their success. As Jonathan Fields says in his book called Uncertainty, the fear and doubt we experience when we worry about failure can serve as fuel for brilliance.

Why not let your child shine?

So next time you see your child headed for a mistake, stop. Step out of your role as a parent, and think of yourself as a coach. You don’t always have to warn your son or daughter about what “might” happen. Often, the natural consequences that occur are enough to teach your child what to do. If not, help your child use problem-solving in order to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again.

Are there any specific instances where you feel stuck teaching your child to question? Leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to help you out!

 

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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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