The holiday season is here! It is a busy time for everyone, filled with holiday gatherings, visits from family and friends, and shopping–but it is also the perfect time for you to maximize your child’s language skills. Here are 3 quick and easy brain builders for you to incorporate into the next few weeks to make sure your child continues to meet his/her speech/language goals.
1. Guess My Gift
This is a great game and one of my favorite brain builders for children aged 6-10. It helps with word retrieval, language processing, auditory memory, and even inferencing skills. You and your child can take turns giving each other hints about their favorite present desires. When I play, I tell the child that they will get 3 clues, and I try to give my clues in an organized and predictable way each time (category/function/descriptor). For example:
“I want something that is a pet. It likes to purr and has whiskers.”
It is then the child’s turn to give you clues. For an added bonus, you can have the child write the items in the form of a list so that they can practice writing skills as well.
2. Catalog Browse
Somehow, I am on the mailing list for every major catalog ever. I hate to waste paper, so I like to repurpose my clothing and furniture catalogs. With younger children (age 3-5), I like to find an assortment of pictures and have the child place into categories (i.e. furniture, clothing, toys). With my 5-6 year olds, we use the catalogs to play a game of “I Spy”. My 6-8 year olds can use the catalogs to practice their descriptive language use by talking about the characteristics of the clothing/furniture on each page and by comparing different items in the catalog.
3. Cooking Projects
Children love to be helpers in the kitchen. Thanks to Pinterest, there are a million different ideas for every holiday, such as these dreidels or these reindeer. You can even use cookie cutters to talk about shapes with your little 2-3 year olds! Cooking is a great way for children to practice their sequencing skills (what comes first, next, and last)…and obviously there is a delicious treat at the end!
4. Holiday Cards
With the rise of the internet, the art of letter-writing is a dying trend. Kids LOVE writing letters, and my students can’t get enough of addressing envelopes! This is a great way for your school aged child to practice their spelling and writing organization. I like to give the child a format to follow, rather than just having them write “Happy Holidays, Love Jocelyn”. Try this one:
Dear Aunt ____________,
Question to the reader
Statement about yourself
5. Wrap Presents
This is another great way for children to use crafts and practice sequencing steps of an activity. Wrapping gifts is a very teachable skill (and a very easy task for small fingers!) Your child will love being able to help wrap gifts for their aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. You can even have your child design their own wrapping paper! Start by giving your child one step at a time (i.e. First, measure the paper around the box). If you see that they can do this, go to 2 or 3 steps at a time (i.e. Next fold each corner in like a triangle and tape upward).
Addressing your child’s speech and language goals don’t have to take a pause during the busy season with these brain builders!
Happy holidays to all and good luck adding some holiday cheer for your little dear.