Learning Language Is Child's Play
Play is meaningful and important to the development of language skills in early childhood. Through play and interaction, children learn how to talk, listen, read, and write. Young children make numerous language discoveries as they play, explore, and interact with others. Language skills are primary avenues to learning because they allow children to talk about their own life experiences.
Parents and teachers can make use of the engaging and motivating nature of play to encourage language development by creating activities that instruct as they provide enjoyable, genuine play experiences. The more story-like the play activity is, the more memorable it will be.
Here are a couple examples of play-based activities:
- Build skills in social interaction and storytelling by imagining the conversation and actions involved in different scenarios. You could talk through going on a picnic for example, or making lunch, baking, or building a house out of blocks, giving the child space to direct the action and create the dialog.
- Build letter sound awareness by playing a game like “Leo the Lion” with a stuffed lion toy. Explain that Leo seems to lose his library book wherever he goes, as you make Leo search for the book you’ve placed in the room. Ask the child to help Leo by saying, “Leo! Leo! Your library book is over there!” and pointing to the book. Leo can lose his book repeatedly, and the game can continue by having Peter Possum search for his pencil or Sammy Snake retrieve his socks. During this play activity, the child will have opportunities for interaction and practice of initial letter sounds. As you play, you might talk with the child about other things Leo and his animal friends might like to do, such as lick lollipops, look through binoculars, or leap across a line.
Click here for a list of age-appropriate activities that encourage language development.
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