The Value Of Word Games
I went to the shops and I bought a….giraffe…and a hot-air balloon…and a bright pink suitcase…and a packet of wiggly spaghetti …
We are sure you remember how to play this memory game, each player repeats the entire sentence adding a new item to the list at the end. This is an old one, but remember to the young toddler everything is new and you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to having fun. Children love (and need) repetition, you’ll tire of games like these long before an active little learner! And one of the most important aspects is interaction with others, especially interaction with interested and enthusiastic adults. There are endless word games available on the internet but (assuming your child has the IT skills necessary to play them) a computer will not really be able to laugh or smile at your child’s efforts. It will not be able to say, ‘That’s just like the other day when we …’ or ‘That reminds me of the time that granny….’
Language is ultimately about communication with others and mediating our experiences. Learning for the young child is about being able to put experiences into context and make connections between experiences.
Children need to play alongside each other and gradually learn how to interact, but under the age of four you cannot guarantee that they are going to have mind-blowing conversations with each other! It is very important also for them to have quality interaction with adults who can extend their experiences of language and provide ‘models’ of language use for children to explore.
Enriching The Play
- Make it silly! The sillier the better, children will be delighted and push the boundaries of their language experience to match your silliness. (Although at a certain age children can get scatological – just a phase we assure you!)
- Make it alphabetical – this is quite a challenge even for older players, but it can make the memory aspect easier!
- Adjective, verb, noun – you don’t have to explain parts of speech just model this for children and see if they can copy and adapt parts your model – eg I went to the shop and bought pink, wriggling worms…and silly, sliding snakes… and jolly, joking spiders.
- Categorize it – this is useful for reluctant children who might be more enthusiastic if you focus upon their interests and allow them to show off their knowledge – your list might be for different makes and models of car or dinosaurs.