Learning About Language for Young Children
Young children are just learning how to put sentences together, and their vocabulary and syntax improve by the day! These are activities for language development one way to make sure that young children are getting the experiences they need to build their language skills.
Making Soup as a Class
One of the best ways to incorporate language activities into your playtime is to encourage speech during pretend play. Let a child stir a pot of “soup” with a large spoon and then give you some to taste. After each taste, say “Wow, that was delicious! But I think it needs some more…” Name an object easily visible around the room for the children to find. The child who finds the object can then put it into the pot and stir the soup, and the game continues. Encourage children to tell you what they put in the pot. As the toddlers get older, they can choose the next objects to go in the pot.
Going on a Trip
Another great language activity involves pretending to go on a trip. Pull up a bench and have the children straddle it as if they are riding a horse. Pretend that they are going on a trip; you can choose the destination or ask one of the children to choose a destination, such as the zoo, the library, or the grocery store. Whatever the destination, help children discuss what they see when they get there. For less verbal children, try giving choices, such as “Do you see a lion or a shopping cart at this zoo?” This will encourage young children to speak, and hearing you speak will build their vocabulary and language skills as well.
Going on a Nature Walk
On a nice day, consider taking the class on a nature walk. Nature walks are excellent ways to build language skills in young children because they are seeing so many new and exciting things around them. As you walk, encourage children to point out objects that they think are interesting, and talk about what they’ve found. For example, a child might find a fall leaf on the ground. You can show the leaf to the rest of the children and say, “Look at this leaf! It used to be green, but now it turned orange. There’s a little bit of green left on the bottom here, and the edges are bright red. I’m holding it by the stem, but the leaf is wet from being on the ground. Remember how it rained last night? The leaf is wet from the rain.” Encourage children to respond by asking them what color an object is, how it feels, what shape it is, or where it came from.
Also, whenever possible take young children on educational trips so that they can experience and speak about things outside of their own neighborhoods.
These language development activities for young children are the perfect way to build receptive language (or what they understand) and their expressive language (what they can say). You’ll be surprised at how much children can understand after activities like these!