Early childhood education is imperative for the development of cognitive and language skills. The key to language development is to have certain activities built into your child's routine. If you can succeed in making learning fun, it won't be long before you find your preschooler talking in complete and elaborate sentences. Trying to create activities for preschoolers can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't need to be. Here are 20 language development ideas that ideas you can try!
1. Sing an Alphabet Song
There's something about music that makes things stick. There are plenty of songs of catchy songs on YouTube that'll take you through the alphabet with both visual and phonetic elements on display. There are plenty of options available--don't shy away from picking a silly song if that's what appeals to your child.
Learn more: Jack Hartmann Kids Music Channel
2. Photography with a twist
Allow your child to borrow your camera and take 3 pictures. It could be their favorite book, toy, or any other household item. Ask them to describe their pictures in vivid detail - what are the objects that they photographed called, and what are they used for? This will give them a chance to hone their expressive language skills as well as explore their creative side.
3. Role Play
Already a popular activity amongst children, role play should be encouraged because it allows for the simulation of real-life social situations and provides a unique language learning experience through social interaction. Ideas for fantasy play can range from playing house to princess tea parties- let your toddler's imagination run wild and watch their receptive language skills grow overnight!
Learn more: Playground Resource
4. Alphabet Puzzle Mat
This widely available alphabet mat is a great addition to any playroom- it's durable, inexpensive, and educational. Interlocking the foam pieces to make a giant puzzle serves multiple purposes; it keeps kids engaged, provides a safe and attractive play space, and helps enhance language through repetition.
Smaller, child-friendly whiteboards are easily available in the market. Grab a few of those, along with some dry erase markers, and randomly call out letters or words for your child to spell out. Alternatively, ask your child to draw a scene from their favorite story on the whiteboard and then describe it.
6. Letter Familiarity Activity
This is a fantastic letter recognition game. Trace over a bunch of letters on a piece of cardboard (you can recycle a carton!). Cut the body letters out and ask your child to paint and decorate them, identifying each of them as they proceed. This provides for a language participation through art.
Learn more: Preschool Toolkit
7. Pasta Arts & Crafts
This fun craft is a great way to teach preschoolers to write their names using everyday items. The perfect time to do this would be when you're cooking pasta for dinner anyway. Get a piece of paper or a paper plate, make your child trace out their name on it, and then reserve some raw pasta for them to stick onto the letters of their name. Creative crafts as such are especially versatile since they simultaneously provide unique language opportunities along with honing fine motor skills.
Learn more: Education.com
8. Ask Questions
This one is deceptively simple. Make it a habit to ask them several open-ended questions on a daily basis. How was their day? Why do you think things happened the way they did? Encourage them to answer in complete sentences. This adds a personal and emotional bonding dimension to vocabulary development along with promoting expressive language development.
Learn more: Imperfect Families
9. Read billboards on road trips
Creating the right kind of learning environment for language activities is imperative to developing your child's expressive language ability. Once your child can sound out a few basic letters, encourage them to read the billboards that you drive past- this is a great alternative to handing them a tablet or phone!
10. Doll Theatre
Ask your child to put on a skit using toy figures/dolls as the main characters. In doing so, they will think of a fun story to tell and develop key communication skills as they make imaginary characters have conversations amongst themselves.
Learn more: Harlequin Puppet Theatre
11. Pretend Phone Conversations
In the world of smartphones, children are not motivated to play with toy phones anymore. Fortunately, there are several realistic-looking toy iPhones that can be purchased for preschoolers, which they can then use to have pretend conversations. This will encourage them to learn effective communication. Alternatively, they can be given a real phone so they can video call a family member to talk to them.
12. Wooden Block Activities
Activities for preschoolers should help integrate learning with play. Wooden blocks which have letters of the alphabet printed on them do just that! Children are likely to subconsciously memorize the letters as they play with the blocks.
13. Show and Tell
Tell your child to pick their favorite stuffed toy (or real pet!) and do a little show and tell about it. If required, you can prompt the child with questions about the toy.
14. Surprise Letterbox
This game is best played in a group setting. Create a "surprise letterbox" by using wrapping paper on an old shoebox and creating a slit on the lid. Now, write out the entire alphabet using sticky notes and put them inside.
Learn more: Country Living Magazine
15. Outdoor Sketching
Take a notepad and a few pencils. Go outside for a few minutes and tell your children to draw anything that they see. They can then share the details of their drawing with their partner.
Learn more: Frugal Fun for Boys
16. Grocery Store Fun
Take your preschooler along with you for a grocery run, asking her fun questions like:
How many items are in the cart?
How many colors do you see?
Which item is the largest?
17. Shaving Cream Letters
Put a piece of cling over a serving tray. Empty around half a bottle of shaving cream onto it and let your child experiment with and practice letters on it. This is a great sensory experience, and your child won't even know they're practicing!
Learn more: Mess for Less
18. Descriptive Words Game
Name any object, and ask your child to come up with words describing that object. For example, if you say "car", they can respond by saying "red" / "big"/"shiny", and so on.
Learn more: Twinkl
19. A Walk in The Park
There are various receptive language activities that can be tried, but this remains a hot favorite! Go to the neighborhood park for a walk and comment on everything that you see- people, animals, flowers, etc. Entertaining any questions that they might have and letting them tell you about what they know is a bonus!