Using the rhyme below with your child, pretend your hands are blocks. This symbolic play promotes your child’s creativity. It also teaches them that one object can represent another object in the same way that print words stand for real objects.
I take my little wooden blocks (make fist)
And stack them one by one. (place fists over and over on top of each other)
I stack them higher, higher (raise fists, still stacking)
And when my task is done, I’ve made some big tall buildings (arms over head)
Just like they have downtown. I give a push. (jab forward with index finger)
They start to sway… (arms raised, sway body back and forth)
CRASH! (clap hands)
They all fall down! (arms fall to sides, or children fall to floor)
One benefit of playing make-believe at home (besides being so fun) is that it encourages vocabulary and language development. The cool characters and settings that we see so often in picture books, such as With Any Luck, I’ll Drive a Drive, can inspire new ideas for playtime. Are you ready to be a construction worker or a fire fighter?
Play gives you and your children lots of opportunities to pretend. Pretend to be monsters as you recite the following rhyme. Remember children learn best by doing so acting out the meaning of words while you are playing will help your child remember new vocabulary.
Monsters galore, can you roar? (Roar)
Monsters galore, can you soar? (Flying motions)
Monsters galore, please shut the door. (Clap)
Monsters galore, fall on the floor! (Sit/fall down)
Play offers many enjoyable opportunities to develop language. The most critical aspect of play as it relates to language is that children learn to think symbolically. Play is not just fun. It is also how children learn and understand new concepts and ideas.
Playing matching games helps children see what is alike and different in objects and letters. Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron Meshon shows the differences in baseball in two cultures. As you read this book, talk about the differences in each picture. This will help your child learn new vocabulary as well as that the world is multicultural.
Many stories offer a chance for you to play with the concepts in the book. In A Birthday for Cow by Jan Thomas, the animals make a cake. Incorporating props such as a mixing bowl and spoon into the reading of the story, or retelling the story afterwards will help children understand the story better, and have fun at the same time.
Allow your child time for free play. Provide a variety of toys and objects that are safe for babies, and let them direct how they want to play with the object. Even if it just looks like they are putting a toy in their mouth or knocking things over, they are learning!
One type of play is make-believe play. When children are engaging in imaginative play, ask them to tell you about what they are doing. This will help them practice telling stories, which builds narrative and vocabulary skills. When you have a conversation with them and add to their stories, you are enhancing those skills.
From birth, babies play to learn about their world. Not only is playing with your baby a good bonding experience, but it is also one of the best ways for babies to learn language and literacy skills and build motor skills.
There are many fun counting rhymes. Play a game with your baby’s stuffed animals by lining them up in a row. Take one animal away each time you say the rhyme.
Five Pets in the Window
Five pets in the window for the whole world to see.
Look, someone is coming, who says,
“You’re the perfect pet for me.
Play offers many enjoyable opportunities to develop language. The most critical aspect of play as it relates to language development is that children learn to think symbolically. They learn that one thing can represent another thing. It is this very kind of thinking that is used in language.
Have your child use his/her whole body to act out Pepito the Brave. This will help your child internalize and understand what is happening in the story. This process will later help them understand what they read.