Easy and fun games to play with your child and build their language skills!
Staying at home with your child! Immersing your child into a language-rich environment will impact their lifetime language skills and help them to be articulate speakers in the future. Confinement is challenging but offers a golden time to create this language-rich environment through conversations and games. We prepared this blog to share with you some ideas to support their language learning during this fundamental age 0-6 years old. It is important to remember that the 0-3 years is the foundation of language learning even if this is not visible to us. And when the time come at around 3 years, the child starts speaking. The whole 0-6 is the foundation for lifetime language skills. No joke!
These exercises are in English but we can play in Arabic, English or any other language. Better to talk to the child with the native language.
Reading books: (from 0-6)
We all want our children to develop the love of reading. For this we should start from day 1 to read for them. The love of reading grows with children before the age of 6.We should make this habit of reading for them every day, either during the day and/or in the evening. For their age, we need to keep the text short so children find it easy to take the book by themselves and read alone. It is important to have realistic photos and stories: no speaking animals or objects or flying humans as the child is currently focusing on understanding the real world and any unrealistic ideas add to their confusion about real life. Every night before sleeping or in the afternoon plan reading activities, is a great habit that our children will pick up for a lifetime.
Puppets/ finger puppets:
These activities are fun for children and adults and are great opportunities for creating a rich language environment for our children. We need to ensure that we don't have talking animals or objects and realistic stories. This is important to help the child to find references in the real world.
The orientation game
You are exhausted and your child wants to play with you? This is the perfect game for you! ( even if you are not tired)
This game help expand the child's vocabulary and orient themselves around objects existing in their environment.
Ask your child to go near an object in your house: Can you go near the curtain? Can you go touch the door? Can you find a vase? Can you bring a spoon? Can you point to a pillow? Children love it, they love moving and they love finding objects. If a child goes to the table instead of door, we say this is a table, I need you to go near the door. We can show the door if the child doesn’t know.
The action game
This is an introduction to the concept of verbs.
We ask the child to do an action. This is an introduction to the concept of verbs.
We ask the child: Can you jump? Can you sit? Can you stand? Can you talk? Can you sing, clap, blink, etc?
Another advanced version of this game is for noticing adverbs: children love it.
Can you speak softly, can you sing loudly, can you walk slowly, can you jump quickly … etc.
Question game: for 3-6
First version: I tell story: the child and their teacher baked some bread
Then I start to ask my child: who baked the bread?
What were the ingredients that you put in the dough in the bread/
What did the teachers and the children bake?
This helps the child to know the origin of things
Can you tell me where we get the milk from?
The child says for instance: The supermarket.
Then we ask: and where does the supermarket get the milk from?
The child: From the farmer.
And the parent asks: and where does the farmer get the milk from?
The child: from the cow!
We can play this game with everything: fruits, vegetables, herbs, oil, …
A- Real objects game ( for children from 0- 3 years)
Picture of Real object shelf from our classroom with real fruits, vegetables, tulips, bathroom materials, and office supplies (these are rotated).
We take three objects of the same category - either 3 fruits, or 3 vegetables, or 3 bathroom accessories.
We will use as an example three fruits (well washed) :orange, banana, cantaloupe
We show the first object (orange). We smell it. We roll it in our hand and touch it and name it three times: Orange, Orange, Orange.
Then we hand the object to our child to explore it by themselves and we repeat it three times leaving a time for the child to repeat it (if they can). If the child is at an age where they can talk, they will repeat after you spontaneously, so we don’t ask them to speak. We don’t correct them just repeat the name while the object is in the child’s hand three times.
We do the same with the second and third objects.
2- Once introduced to the three objects, we ask the child to show us where the orange is; can you place the banana here; can you hold the cantaloupe there.
We let the child play and to recognise the objects. If the child shows us the orange instead of the banana, we say: This is a banana I need the orange.
We can play this game with bathroom objects, kitchen utensils, and so on…
We play for a while until the child is no longer interested. We ask them do you want to play more? And then, depending on the answer, we carry on playing or leave.
B- Replicas ( 2-3 years):
If we have miniature objects like transportation toys: airplane, car , train; or kitchen utensils: cup, fork and dish… we play the same way introducing the 3 objects one by one and ask the child to find the object and place it somewhere else.
C- Classified cards ( pictures by theme) :( for children from 2- 6)
Because you are AMI Montessori parents, you can benefit from the AMI Montessori resources that have been made available for you. You can find many classified cards to print. If your child can't read, just print the photo without the word. https://montessoridigital.org/classified-cards-all
If we have realistic photos of objects (no cartoonish pictures) animals, transportation, fruits, home furniture) we can show our children any new thing like planets, garden utensils, etc, to enrich their vocabulary. We play this game the same way. Introduce the 3 objects one by one and ask the child to find the object and place it somewhere else.
Sound game: age 3,5 years
This activity helps the child to understand that words are made out of sounds. Later we can show the child that the sounds have symbols that are no other than the alphabet and letters!
Take a tray and place three small objects on it, e.g.: a spoon, vase and bottle.
The way we pronounce the sounds are in the phonetic way, silent letter ‘s’ not ‘es’
Ask your child to show you the object starting with ‘s’, then can you show me a letter that starts with ‘b’, ‘v’.
When the child is conscious about the initial sound of each word we can ask them for the sounds that come at the end of the words. For instance: can you show me a letter that ends with ‘Z’ for vase, or the letter that ends with ‘L’ for bottle.
When the child understands this, we can ask them for the middle sounds of the word, for instance can you show me a word that has ‘p’ in the middle, for spoon.
This game will let the child understand that the word we are using for the objects has sounds in the beginning, in the middle and at the end. This is a preparation for writing as well!
Written language (3,5 years and above)
This section has been discussed with the parents concerned, and these are additional support for them. We are available for more one to one support.
1- Discovering the letters:
When our child realizes that words are made out of sounds (after the sound game), we tell them do you want to know how it is written? And we usually start with the child’s initial.
In the classroom we use sandpaper letters.
The teacher traces the letter to show the child how it is written. We give the child a chance to trace the letter and name it.
And after each tracing, we say the phonetic sound of the letter. For instance for the letter z, I say the silent z, and not the usual ‘zi’ or ‘zed’.
Then I show a second letter the same way: no more than three letters each time
How to do this at home?
We can print the letters and cut themout. Then present to the child, letter by letter (3 max). For each letter we trace it with the tray shown below.
Please note that we first show the children the cursive low case letters. it is easier for them when they start writing. We will introduce the print letter later with the reading activities.
This tray can be filled with sand, salt, flour, etc.
Document to print at home (attachments)
We need to print at least 5 copies of each alphabet and we will use them to replace the movable alphabet as well, as shown below.
We only present one language ( alphabet) at a time
2- Playing with the letters
When the child discovers the letter they need to build a relation so they can remember it.
We play can you give me the letter d, can you place v in here, can you put the s there? We play as much as possible as long as a child is enjoying it. This is how the child will impress the letter in their mind.
We can make other games with the letters, for instance put them aside and ask the child go and find a letter and bring it back. They love moving and finding. We can even hide the letter and ask them to find a specific letter each time.
3- Naming the letter
Then I show the child one of the three letters and ask What is this letter? so the child will be able to name the letter. I do the same with all three letters.
Writing with movable alphabet
When we are sure the child knows all the letters, we can start writing with the movable alphabet. We should not give a pen to a child at this point. We ask the child: Do you want to write your name, the name of parents, a friend or a sentence, or story?
The child can express their own thoughts and write them before they can read the thoughts of others.
We didn't cover reading under this section. The child can write ‘cat’ this way: ‘Kat’, and that is fine for the moment, later they will learn.
It takesso many steps to achieve writing as we work a lot on the hands and articulation so that the child is ready to hold a pen and write. We will try to cover the different steps to reach this, either directly with parents or in future publications.