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5 fun games to help your child learn to understand language

Updated: Feb 16, 2021

The first step to speaking a language, is of course, learning to understand it. If you are concerned that your child is not saying many words, use these games to teach new words.

1) 'Simon Says!' This one's an eternal favourite and there is a very good reason why. You need no equipment or prep work to play this game. While you can use this game to teach a number of words, it works particularly well for verbs (action words). You say 'Simon says, 'jump!'' and your child jumps. If you give an instruction without 'Simon says', your child must not carry it out. Give your child a chance to be the caller. Use the boring verbs (jump, run, walk), but also throw in lots of exciting ones: rub your belly, wiggle your butt, hop on one foot etc

2) 'I spy with my eye' or 'Queen of Sheba' : They are both variations of essentially the same concept. Needs no prep or extra material. You can use this with children who are learning basic concepts including those of size, colour, shape etc. You say 'I spy with my eye, something red' and your child tells you what that item is. (Or you say, 'The Queen of Sheba wants something red' and your child gets it for you). Use concepts as complex as your child can understand. You can ask for square, red things, small, round things, things that are a bit blue, but mostly green. The limit is what your child understands (and what's available in your house, of course!)

3) Feely bags: Feely bags are a great way to teach both understanding of language and spoken language. Choose an old pillow case and put some small objects in it (examples, toothbrush, spoon, a doll, a ball etc). You describe the object (you can describe an object by function or how it looks: something that you eat with, something with bristles etc) to your child and he finds it by just feeling the outside of the bag.

4) Obstacle course: This is a great way to teach prepositions (position words). Okay, it needs a little bit of prep and you must be prepared to move your furniture around. First, form an obstacle course using your tables, chairs and cushions. Lay some bedsheets on the floor for added fun. Give your child little instructions that contain position words. 'Go behind the sofa and then under the table', 'Go around the cushions and crawl between the chairs'. Other words you can try with this activity: on,off, between, behind, along, through.

5) Who am I? This is a great game to teach adjectives (describing words). If your child is very young, support this activity using pictures. Choose 5 pictures of animals or people. Look at the pictures together with your child and talk about specific features that the animal or the person has (long tail, pointy nose, short hair, curly hair, wearing glasses, wearing a blur T-shirt etc). Then put the pictures away and begin describing one of them. Your child needs to guess the picture you described. Take turns describing and guessing.

For all of these activities, keep your sentences as short as your child needs it to be. Long, complicated instructions with too many details will make the game seem tedious. Avoid this. Try and push him only a little bit each time. Have fun teaching your child!

And have you tried our Brainy English app (by Brainy Bug Resources)? With hundreds of words and sentences, our app is designed to make English easy for your child.

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