No–Tech activities to practice language skills
- Choose books of interest to read to your child and for each page or paragraph (depending on the age of your child), ask comprehension questions, such as who, what, when, where, why and how. If they have difficulty with answering, assist them by modeling what a “where” answer sounds like; add information to your child’s answers.
- Retell stories or books “in your own words,” one-to-one or as a family. Model retelling, and then ask your child to do the same in a comfortable setting. If this is too much for your child, “chunk” the story or text and every so often have them tell a part or the story, or “what’s happened so far.”
- Read a variety of fiction and non-fiction books to your child. This will help in them in later grades when they read textbooks in science and social studies, when they read for factual information, and when they learn research methods.
- When reading together discuss new or complex word forms as you run across them. Children may benefit from highlighting or paraphrasing the following: words that are opposites (hot – cold), words that mean the same thing (big – large), and words that have more than one meaning (feet as a body part – feet as in measurement).
- Play categorization games with your child. For example, name as many animals, sports, colors, etc., as you can. Teach your child what to do and say if they don’t know an answer. Start by asking them what they do know if they answer, “I don’t know.”
- Play same/different games with your child. State two items, for example. popsicle and ice cream cone; ask how the two items are the same and different.
- If your child uses incorrect grammar structures, “I gotted a A on my project,” model the correct grammar by saying, “Oh, you got an A on your project.”
- If your child is difficult to understand because she or he uses non-specific words during stories or explanations, (for example, “We went there and got the stuff for the thing,”) you can label the non-specific words as “words that don’t tell us much,” or as “confusing words.” Model for them how to be more specific. Example: “Your class went to the library to get books for the read-a-thon,” now you tell me again.
- You can practice sequencing with your child by cutting out newspaper funnies, or cartoons. After you read them have your child put them in the correct order and tell the story. Encourage them to use terms such as, first, second, third, and then, next, last.
- Practice sequencing with your child by using a real life situation such as, “tell me how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”
- Board games such as “Outburst Junior”, “Apples to Apples Jr”, “Tri-Bond”, “Scattergories”, and “Twenty-Five Words or Less”, help increase vocabulary, understanding of categories and word retrieval skills.
- Games such as “Guess Who” and “20 Questions” aid in verbal reasoning and provide practice in asking appropriate questions. “20 Questions” also challenges auditory memory skills.
- Following recipes or steps to a craft project can improve sequencing and language comprehension skills. Having your child teach a parent or sibling a recipe, rules to a game or steps to a craft project can aid in expressive language skills and sequencing.
- Play “barrier games” together. Two people are seated across from each other with some type of visual barrier between them. One person creates something (e.g. a picture using a dot matrix, an easy paper folding activity, a route on a map) and must give exact instructions so that the other person can recreate the same thing without looking over the barrier. These games aid in using precise and clear expressive language skills as well as language comprehension skills.
- Tell stories using story starters (for example, “Jane sat down to breakfast as usual, but when she opened the cereal box something very strange happened”) or story telling picture cards. Picture cards can include any pictures of potential characters, places and objects. The story-teller chooses pictures from each category at random and has to make up a story using these pictures. Others can “add on” to the story with new cards.
- Make predictions about a story or chapter of a book you read to or with your child. Discuss what you think the book is about or what you think will happen next. As you begin reading, discuss whether your predictions were right. After reading a story or chapter of a book to or with your child, talk about the key parts of the story. Who are the main characters? Where and when does the story take place? What problems do the characters have to overcome? What do they plan to do? How do they finally solve the problem?
- Discuss short informational paragraphs read to or with your child. What is the main idea of the paragraph? What are the details?
- Use verbal problem-solving skills to discuss situations that may come up in your child’s life. What would they say or do? The Kids’ Book of Questions by Gregory Stock has a wide variety of questions and situations.
- Develop verbal problem skills by evaluating, analyzing, predicting and generating solutions for possible problems as they occur at home.
- Practice social communication skills (for example, turn-taking in conversation, eye contact, maintaining topic of conversation) in planned 3-minute conversations working on one skill at a time. Evaluate your skills.
- Strengthen passage comprehension by “reading between the lines” as you piece together segments of information in order to answer questions requiring inference. Strengthen comprehension and memory of facts by answering comprehension questions from material read.
- Practice creative storytelling by presenting story starters of imaginary characters.
- Develop vocabulary by keeping a “vocabulary notebook” to include new vocabulary heard in school and at home. Define and use the vocabulary word correctly in a sentence. Enrich meanings of words by defining multiple-meaning words, idioms, metaphors in context of stories read.
- Practice functional communication skills (i.e. clear articulation, voice quality, pitch, volume, rate) in 3 minute monologues and evaluate.
- Strengthen oral communication by expressing a personal opinion on issues.
- Develop interviewing skills by answering self-identification questions in mock interviews.
*Language activities courtesy of: http://www.edina.k12.mn.us