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
Last week I spoke about the benefits of reading to your baby/child from day dot. Here are a list of some of my favourite books for children aged 0-3 years.
'Once I heard a little wombat' is a particularly good one to add to your reading list if you haven't already. The rhyming text in the book keeps small children entertained and helps them to recognise patterns in speech. Toddlers will love to act or dance the actions performed by the animals. This book also was awarded top place at the Speech Pathologist Book of the Year Awards, ages 0-3 years.
'Dear Zoo' is fantastic for engaging little ones with it's interactive flaps and repetitive text that allows children to begin to engage and 'read' the story themselves. Have fun making each animal noise together as your child opens each flap to teach early sound production. Great for teaching animal vocabulary too!
'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' has become a classic that all children love. Great for teaching early story sequencing skills, food vocabulary, counting skills and concepts.
If you missed my recent blog on the benefits of reading to children daily you can see it below: http://www.speechsmart.com.au/blog/number-1-on-my-play-chat-learn-activity-list-read-together-daily
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.
Phonological awareness "refers to the focus on the sounds of spoken language" that is, for a child to come to the realisation that a continuous stream of speech can be separated by individual words, that those words can also be broken up into one or more 'beats' or syllables, and that syllables are made up of a sequence of separate, single sounds (D. Konza, 2014). The most important of these phonological components for reading development is the awareness of the individual sounds or phonemes, that is phonemic awareness.
"Once children understand that words can be broken up into a series of sounds, they need to learn the relationship between those sounds and the letters used to ‘map’ them onto paper: the alphabetic code. An understanding of the relationship between sounds and the letters that represent them (graphemes) is at the heart of reading an alphabetic language, thus the decoding step is non-negotiable if children are to become independent readers (Hulme et al, 2012 as cited in D. Konza, 2014)".
Some children find it very difficult to "pull apart" words to perceive them as a series of separate phonemes (i.e. sounds) because the continuous nature of speech compresses them into a series of overlapping sounds through a process called co-articulation, disguising the segmental nature of speech. Children who find it difficult to hear the separate sounds in words cannot make the link between the sounds of speech and print symbols, making learning to read and spell our alphabetic language an enormous challenge. These children will need extra help to learn this skill! Children also need good oral language skills as this provides the platform for the development of phonological skills (D. Konza, 2014).
Speech Pathologists assess children's phonological awareness skills, their letter-sound knowledge (coding skills) and their language skills. When difficulties are observed in one or more of these areas the speech pathologist works with parents and teacher's to strengthen a child's skills in these areas to maximise the child's potential for success at school in reading, spelling and across the curriculum. If your child is starting school or progressing into grade 1 or 2 and has poor phonological awareness skills (e.g. finds it difficult to clap out how many syllables are in words 2 syllables or longer, finds it hard to identify the sound a word starts with such as 'cat' starts with the 'k' sound, bike starts with the 'b' sound) and/or has a weakness in their oral language skills (e.g. uses non-specific words such as 'that thing' or 'that one' or 'it' frequently, struggles with following directions or understanding language, and/or find it difficult to put words together to form grammatical sentences and to express themselves clearly) a speech pathology assessment and talking to their teacher about what can be done to support them further is strongly recommended.
In her very well written article, 'Teaching Reading: Why the “Fab Five” should be the “Big Six”' Deslea Konza, 2014, proposes that the current curriculum needs to change to include 'six' components critical to the development of reading rather than the current 5 with the addition of 'oral language' making it the "Big Six" and I'm in total agreement:
• phonemic awareness
• oral language
It just makes sense!
This article is really worth reading for any speech pathologist supporting children with literacy problems and for teachers and parents who's children have language and literacy difficulties.
Teaching Reading: Why the “Fab Five” should be the “Big Six” Deslea Konza, Edith Cowan University.
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.