Winter Language Activities

Here are some ways to have fun with your child while building stronger language skills.

snowflake Pretend Play

Since language is a system of symbols, playing with symbols helps children learn about language. There are many ways to get in character and enter into a CHILD DIRECTED dialogue.

Pretend to play in the snow.
Use flour, white floam, or pretend snow (Doodlehopper sells “snow in a bucket” that has a nice texture) to create a snowy scene. Find all the cars, dump trucks, and bulldozers in your house. On a mat, pretend that the cars are snowed in. Your characters can scoop or bulldoze the snow away to free the cars!

Pretend to go ice skating.
Put some water on a cookie sheet and freeze it to make an icy “pond”. Take dollhouse characters, little people, or even pirates (use what you have in the house) and pretend the characters are “skating” on the ice. You might want to have a doctor kit nearby. You can take turns playing doctor if somebody gets hurt, have ice skating races with the characters, or even figure skating competitions. Have fun with it and follow your child’s lead.

snowflake Auditory Comprehension

Auditory comprehension is the ability to make meaning out of spoken language. Children need to be able to filter out background noise, focus on the speaker, interpret linguistic concepts (e.g. concepts of time and space), and follow multistep directions.

Sort hot and cold items.
Put hot and cold items in a bag and mix them up. For example, you may include a piece of ice, a hair dryer, a picture of the sun, a picture of a snowman, a popsicle, hot bread, etc. Ask your child to put all the cold items on a blue piece of paper and all the hot items on a red piece of paper. If this is difficult, begin the sort for your child and see if they can join in. If it is easy, extend the activity by talking about how the items are the same and/or different.

Pretend to be polar bears.
Science experiments are a good way to enhance cognitive development. After reading Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do You Hear?make polar bear claws with Crisco and a bucket of ice cold water. Be warned that this is a messy activity. Ask your child to put his hand in a bucket of ice water. He can describe what it feels like. Then explain that Polar Bears swim in icy water. You may wonder aloud how a polar bear stays warm. If your child is interested, explain that a polar bear has fat to keep him warm. Then cover your child’s hand completely in crisco and put a ziploc bag over the hand to make a “polar bear claw”. Now ask your child to put his hand back in the water. Ask him if it feels different than it did without the “claw”. This is a great way to strengthen the concepts of hot/cold, and same/different while learning about how animals adjust to their habitat.

snowflake Expressive Language

There is a significant range of “normal” for expressive language skills during the preschool years. In general, the preschooler needs to be intelligible, able to express his wants and needs, and able to negotiate increasingly complex social situations.

Make hot chocolate.
Use a 3-step sequence while making hot chocolate with your child. You will want to model the words “first”, “next”, and “last” while engaged in this activity. For example, “First we heat up the milk, then we stir in the chocolate, last we add a marshmallow.” After the activity, ask your child “How do we make hot chocolate?” If she can’t repeat the sequence independently, you may prompt her with questions.

Play “Don’t Break the Ice”.
After playing the game one time, pretend to forget the rules. Have your child use his language to explain the game to you. How many steps can he include? Is he able to consider your perspective (a person who has claimed to forget the rules) while explaining the game, or does he assume you know what he knows? Observe your child’s communication and prompt him as needed.