Over the next few weeks while schools and nurseries seem to be winding down, at home, anticipation and excitement will be racing up. We have put together some fun participation and language rich activities, to support your child's communication skills.
Baking with your child
Using gingerbread man biscuit cutters you can make gingerbread men with your child. Baking is a great way to explore sensory textures, encourage turn taking and participation. You can model what ingredients need to go in to the bowl. Encourage your child to touch, smell and taste some of the ingredients. Just getting your child to pour in the ingredients and mix is an opportunity to comment on what they are doing while they are doing it. Once the gingerbread men are cooked, you can provide choices with your child about how they can be decorated. Taking pictures while you bake is a great way to go back and review the activity later where you can talk about what you did first (mix the ingredients), then next (cook the biscuits) and then last (eat them!).
If you are not ready to cook with your little one, using cutters like stencils is another way of creating a seasonal craft for the winter holidays. You can model choice making with types of colours and different pens, crayons and chalk. Comment on how you are decorating your gingerbread man, comment on what your child is doing. You can add sequins, cotton wool balls and pom poms to your design.
If your family is going out and about this winter and braving the cold, perhaps you might consider a festive walk. Just like the bear hunt story is full of things you might see on your adventure to see a bear, well there is so much to see outside. When going for a walk, talk to your child about what you might see. Using concepts such as tree, Christmas tree, menorah, lights, candles, colours (red, yellow etc), snowman, Santa, decorations, wreath. Also talk about the floor, are there big deep puddles or little splashy drops, is the floor slip and slidy and very icy?
Improving listening skills
To work on listening skills: try the following games, ask a family member to sing a Christmas song. Tell your child to clap their hands or complete an action when they hear a particular word. For example, if every time they hear the name Santa they have to put their hands on their shoulders. Adult singing can make it easier for your child by practising singing the lyrics slowly and prompting the child. You can build up this game to include two words for your child to listen out to such as Rudolph and snow.
Are you rocking around your Christmas tree. Play games like Simon Says: Adult/pupil gives instruction such as ‘Simon says rub your tummy.’ you can use the Christmas tree for providing instructions with prepositions. For example, put the cracker next to the tree. For younger children don't worry about saying Simon Says first you can work on following instructions by encouraging them to put things in front, behind, and next to the tree. Once your child has put the item in the correct location encourage them to tell you where they put the item.
Design your own Christmas cards
This is a fun activity you can do with your child. You can draw some pictures with a pencil e.g. a Christmas tree, bubble, robin, and a snowman. You can provide instructions of increasing length to your child e.g. colour the snowman blue. Or put a hat on the robin. The event of giving the card could also be made into an activity. Prior to giving the card, talk to your child about who the card is for. We can’t just hand over the card. We might need to say something first. This is a great opportunity to practice social skills, specifically body language and conversation skills. If you have 3 cards to deliver, think with your child about greetings we can use with different people. Greeting a nursery manager would be different to greeting your grandma or your best friend. Plan with your child what could be said in this situation and special social ending that are unique to this time of year. For example; have a great Christmas and new year.
Wishing you a festive holiday season from the noala team. For this festive season, we’re excited to share the launch of our family community! Granting you free access - we’ve carefully listened and understood that families going through a similar communication journey could benefit from a clinically backed support group. A little supporting hand if you’d like. Interested in joining?