Holiday Language Activities

Here are some ways to have fun with your child during the holidays 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 run a toy store during the holiday season.
Who will be the salesperson? Who will be the customer? Let your child figure out how to organize the toys on the shelf and simply add a cash register. Once the game is started, encourage flexible thinking by posing problems. Pretend to have forgotten your wallet if you are the customer, or pretend to run out of bags if you are the salesperson – can your child figure out a solution?

Use a pretend tool set and some “broken” toys to run a repair shop.
If you “believe” in Santa, you can also have your child pretend to be elves fixing the toys in time for Christmas. Have a dialogue with your child while in character. Also use body language and make sure your child can read your non-verbal cues. Maybe pretend to hammer your finger and make a dramatic face. Did your child try to comfort you?

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.

While decorating the tree, give 3-4 step directions in a natural way and see if your child can follow them.
For example, you may say “Get the big red ball and put it on the top, then get a green ball and put it on the bottom, and put the Santa in the back.” If it’s difficult, go back to 2-step directions. If it’s easy, turn up the music and see if your child can follow directions while filtering out background noise.

Put 5-6 items (e.g., cards, Hanukkah packages) in a row.
Talk about the color/shape/material, etc. Then take turns closing your eyes and trying to list all the items. This strengthens auditory memory.

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.

To facilitate increased awareness of the muscles in the mouth, try stimulating different types of receptors and see if your child’s speech is more clear after the activity.
Temperature: Make red and green ice cubes (add food coloring). When it is frozen, rub it around the lips and the inside of the cheek pockets. Taste: Do a taste test with red and green foods. Keep in mind that spicy and sour tastes “wake up the mouth”. Try pickles, limes, red pepper, and foods dipped in a little hot sauce. Vibration: Sing a song while brushing your teeth with an electric toothbrush. If they are nervous – assure them that the brushing will be over when the song is over.

Xerox the pages to your child’s favorite holiday story.
Put the pages out of order and have them sequence the story. Then have your child re-tell the story (not reading it – but putting it in their own words.)