Have Fun With Playdough This Easter Holidays!
I use playdough all the time with young kids to support communication development. It's a great activity to get communication happening and there's lots kids can learn through playdough!
Having a set of good cookie or playdough cutters is great for modelling lots of different vocabulary targets (e.g. house, butterfly, plane) and working on early categorisation skills (e.g. Lets put all the vehicles over here and all the animals over here). Playdough play is also great for encouraging use of action words (e.g. cutting, pushing, rolling) and early concept words (e.g. big/little, long/short - "I've rolled a big ball. Your ball is li____?", "My snake is long, your snake is sh____."). You can use playdough for making many different shapes and objects to talk about such as making a persons body or face out of playdough (e.g. model the names of different body parts as you talk about what you are making, such as "To make a person we need a body, head, legs, and arms. What else do we need?"). Try making different animals such as a snake for modelling different animal noises and early sound play (e.g. "Snake says SSSsssss").
Playdough is a great sensory activity and can also be used to encourage development of early social skills such as turn taking, joint attention, sharing, making a choice, requesting, asking for help. It's a great activity to keep young kids occupied on a play date too. They love to get in and help make it and see the colours go through the dough. I like to make my own playdough for peace of mind that if they decide to taste it (lets face it, most kids give it a taste test at some stage) there aren't any hidden nasties.
Joan's Playdough Recipe:
more bubbles please
more big bubbles
blow bubbles up
bubbles up high
come here bubbles
Speech Smart Therapy
Number 2 on my 'Play, Chat, Learn' list: Blow bubbles together.
Why Bubbles Are The Best:
What your child might learn from sharing bubbles with you:
- Looking at you and smiling to share the experience (social engagement and joint attention).
- Asking you to play bubbles with him/her by bringing you the bubble jar, reaching for or pointing to the jar, using a gesture/sign for bubbles, or saying a sound, word or sentence (requesting to play – an important social skill).
- Asking for more bubbles by bringing you the bubble jar, pointing, using a gesture/sign to indicate bubbles, making a sound or saying a word or sentence (requesting – teaches children the 'power of communication' in getting more of what they want).
- Asking you to help open the bubble jar so you can blow more bubbles by bringing you the jar, pointing to the bubble jar, using a gesture, sound, word or sentence (requesting ‘help’ – an important social skill).
- Copying gestures you use and words you say about the bubbles (imitation – a foundation skill in learning to talk and learning to use language).
- Using sounds, words and sentences to talk about the bubbles and what they’re doing (commenting – a foundation language skill for expressing what is happening around them).
- Taking turns blowing or popping bubbles (turn taking - an extremely important social skill).
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What do I do if I have concerns about my child's communication?
Speech Smart Therapy
Literacy is one of the most important foundations for success in school and life. In addition, research shows that in Australia: not all children arrive at school ready to take advantage of the learning opportunities provided. At school 1 in 5 children start school behind – poorly equipped to benefit from the social and learning opportunities (ABS, 2013 as cited in '2013 Lets Read Literature Review).
Read Below to find out about:
Number 1: Read Together Daily:
3 - 12 months
Kindergarten Level in NSW
Why is this important?
Literacy is one of the most important foundations for success in school and life. In addition, research shows that in Australia: not all children arrive at school ready to take advantage of the learning opportunities provided. At school 1 in 5 children start school behind – poorly equipped to benefit from the social and learning opportunities (ABS, 2013 as cited in '2013 Lets Read Literature Review). Unfortunately, those who do not arrive at school with early literacy skills sometimes never catch up (Duncan et al., 2007; Chatterji, 2006; Roberts et al., 2005; Lonigan and Shanahan, 2010 as cited in '2013 Lets Read Literature Review'). The research indicates that the signs of vulnerability in literacy development are already evident from school entry.
Hence, please read to your child everyday from when they are a baby even if it's just for 10-15 minutes before bed time. If you do have any concerns about your child's speech, language, phonological awareness or literacy skills please go and talk to a specialist teacher and seek support from a speech pathologist skilled in the assessment, identification and treatment of children with difficulties in these areas. Early intervention and support will make all the difference to your child's future wellbeing and enjoyment of school.
Without the right support early on for children who experience early difficulties learning to read, they are unlikely to catch up to their peers and the longer it is left the more likely that the gap in ability will widen as schooling progresses. A poor foundation in literacy development in the early years increases vulnerability in literacy development and acquisition and decreases formal educational achievement (2013 Lets Read Literature Review). This has implications for general wellbeing because it is a predictor of a life characterised by a lack of formal education, limited employment opportunities, lower income and reduced access to healthcare.
For more great information on this topic go to the 'Lets Read' website.
Sarah's 'Play, Chat, Learn' Activity List For Parents:
4. Teddy bears or dolls picnic.
5. Dolls house and little people play with toy furniture.
6. Toy train and vehicles play.
7. Favourite toys hide n' seek.
8. Bath time play
10. Craft: paint, cut, paste, build and/or colour in activities.
TV, Technology and Social Media Use - Getting The Balance Right Can Be A Challenge! So What Are The Recommended Guidelines For Parents Of Young Children?
Children are growing up in an environment saturated by technology both traditional and new and are using it at an increasing rate. It's exciting to think about the potential use of these devices and new technologies in educating our children but there's an increasing concern that their overuse during crucial periods of brain development could have long lasting detrimental impact.
As a mother of 3 boys I know it can be challenging to get the balance right between allowing some television watching and computer game playing as well as ensuring they have plenty of outside activety time and play time. I've found it helpful from an early age to establish clear rules as a family around television and technology use. As a family we've needed to regularly discuss and adjust these rules as the boys have got older.
I know this topic can be controversial and lots of people have strong opinions on what's okay and what's not. Some families I've talked to have very strict rules around television and social media use and others have few or no rules at all and the television is allowed to be on most of the time. What I do know is it is really important for the development of young children's minds that we get this balance right. To do so we need to know what the health guidelines are for young children regarding television, technology and social media use. Getting the balance right and having clear household guidelines while children are young sets a foundation for getting the balance right as they get older. I feel it's important as a parent and a health professional to stay up to date with what the research tells us and to share this knowledge.
It's important to be aware that population-based studies continue to show a connection between excessive television watching in early childhood and cognitive, language, and social/emotional delays, likely secondary to reduced parent-child interaction when the television is on and poorer family functioning with high media use. Research also tells us that the content of what we let our kids watch is also crucial: switching from violent content (e.g. violent cartoons on some of the kids channels) to educational/prosocial content (e.g. Playschool, Seasame Street, Mr Maker) results in significant improvement in behaviour.
Research tells us that we as parents need to be mindful of our own social media use as heavy parent use of mobile devices is associated with reduced verbal and nonverbal interactions between parents and children and may be associated with more parent-child conflict. Since reading the article I've certainly been a lot more mindful of the behaviour I'm modelling to my children when I reach to check my iphone when we are out and about. We need to be mindful that children copy our behaviours and heavy media use by a parent is a strong predictor that the child will also have excessive screen time habits. Hence, we as parents reducing our own media use and focusing on enhancing our parent-child interactions may be a very important area of behaviour change to focus on.
A lot more research in this area is needed but there is enough information to be able to provide families with specific guidance in managing their young children's media use. Hence, I've summarised guidelines from an article published in November 2016 in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, providing clear guidelines for parents on what's okay and what's not for children from 0-5 years of age. As pointed out in the article, this period is a time of crucial brain development where secure attachment and relationships are established and the foundations for health behaviours are determined.
Recommended Guidelines for Parents of Young Children:
Written by Sarah Creagh using content from the following publication:
Media and Young Minds, Council On Communication and Media Pediatrics 2016;138 (5)
Top 10 To Do List To Help Teach Your 6-12 Month Old Baby To Learn to Talk (Strategies Are Also Useful for Older Babies Up to 18 months Who Aren't Using Many Words Yet)
Speech and Language Development in 6-12 month olds
This is such an exciting age where your baby learns and develops so much. Here are some of the exciting things your baby will learn to do:
* Turns and looks in the direction of sounds
* Listens when spoken to
*Responds to simple spoken requests e.g. "come here", "up", "ta"
* Copies gestures (e.g. clapping hands)
* Uses simple gestures such as shaking head for "no" or waving "bye-bye"
* Laughs in response to something
*Enjoys playing simple social games such as peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake
*Understands first words such as familiar peoples names (e.g. "Nana") or common items such as “cup,” or “milk”
*Babbles using long and short groups of sounds he/she repeats (“dada, mama, bibibi”) and will start to vary sounds (e.g.babadaga) once skilled at repeating them.
*Babbles to get and keep attention
* Imitates different speech sounds he/she hears (e.g. ah oh, brrrm)
* Has one or two words (“hi,” “dog,” “Dada,” or “Mama”) by first birthday
Babbling and attempting to copy sounds and first words is a critical stage of speech and language development and sets the foundation for future speech and language development. If your baby doesn't seem to play with making sounds or hasn't gone through the babbling stage by 12 months of age, a speech pathology assessment is recommended.
Top 10 To Do List To Help Babies Learn to Talk:
wee - when pushing on a swing.
pop - when popping bubbles
moo, baa, neigh, woof - animal noises when playing with toy animals
Brrrmm brrmm - when pushing a toy car to each other
ha ha ha - when patting panting dog
Grrr - when pretending to be a lion
Mmmm - when eating something nice
raspberry blowing - when pretending to be a horse or playing with toy horse
wee - when lifting up high
eeow - when flying toy plane or pretending to be a plane
oh oh - when drop something
toot toot - when playing with toy truck or watching real truck go past
Written By Sarah Creagh, Speech Pathologist.
Child Development Milestones - 6 months - Queensland Government
'Early Communication Skills' Handout, Speech Pathology Department, Priness Margaret Hospital
Helping Your Baby To Talk, Speech Pathology Australia
Author - Sarah Creagh
I'm a speech pathologist with a passion for working in partnership with parents to support children to reach their maximum potential.