Sometimes my imagination fails me. I’m at a loss with new ideas for games to play with my little girl. I love playing with her, they are precious moments in which we connect, talk and listen in turns, and share our words.
So I was very pleased when I was sent Chatting with Children by I CAN, The Children’s Communication Charity. Chatting with Children is a set of 30 interactive activity and game cards to help build preschoolers’ confidence in their language development and communication skills. Chatting with Children is aimed at children aged three to five.
The activity and game cards are presented in a sturdy box, which is always useful for storage. The cards are divided into four essential areas of communication and really nicely illustrated. There’s Big Ears The Elephant for listening and attention games, Brave The Bear for understanding what is said, Brilliant The Butterfly for learning and using new words, Chatterbox The Canary for speaking in sentences, and my little one’s favourite, Mischievous The Monkey for talking socially activities. The instructions for each activity are presented very clearly, they detail the learning opportunities, and suggest ways of making the activity easier, or more challenging, depending upon the skill set of your child.
The cards are a nice large size, and when we first opened the box, my two and a half year old whiled away the time by taking all the cards out and placing them back in the box again and again, and again. Luckily, my little one was a very early talker and I consider her language skills to be quite advanced for her age, so although the activities are pitched from three and upwards, I found she got on really well with quite a few of them. I think as long as your toddler is talking and understanding quite well, there are enough games she or he will be able to play. Some of the games my little one wasn’t ready for, being more advanced for older children, but this is no bad thing, as she’ll get plenty of fun and learning from these activities over the coming years.
At the moment there are four activities/games my little one particularly enjoys…
1. Stop And Go. The game where she runs around and around in circles banging loudly on her tambourine (or on any other object) until I say Stop, whereby she stops, and when I say Go, she continues the din once more! To make the game a little more challenging I whisper Stop and Go to encourage her to pay attention, and listen carefully for my commands.
2. Listen For The Word. We had a lot of fun with this. The aim is to listen for and respond to key words, mixed up with other words in the sentences of a story. So we chose ‘We’re Going On A Bear Hunt’, and every time my little one heard the word bear, she was to give her very best growl. Needless to say, we smiled and laughed grrrrrrrring and rooooaring.
3. Copy Cats. This games encourages turn taking skills, and to look at and pay attention to another person. I put my right leg forward. Little one does the same. I stick my tongue out. Little one does the same. We swap. Little one wiggles and waggles her bottom. I do the same. Little one shoves her finger up her nose. Er, I do the same. I can’t stop laughing at my toddler’s inventiveness.
4. Mummy Says. Another version of the favourite Simon Says. Little one really enjoys my instructions of touch your nose, touch your toes, wiggle your bottom, smile like a cheshire cat. Then I up the ante by joining instructions together, which she cleverly follows without a hitch!
The great thing about these activity cards is that you can pull them out for a quick five minute game, and they provide plenty of ideas for indoor things to do now the days are getting wetter and shorter. And of course, they are a great tool for improving your child’s language and social skills in preparation for school.
Chatting with Children is available in paper back for £7.99 plus p&p or hardback for £12.00 plus p&p, and you can purchase it from the I Can bookshop.
The complete Early Talkers Boxset (Babbling Babies, Toddler Talk and Chatting with Children) is also available in paperback for £19.99 plus p&p from the I Can bookshop.
All proceeds go towards I CAN’s work with the 1.2 million children in the UK who have long-term speech, language and communication difficulties.