Language based travel games for the whole family
Ah, modern holidays! Long hours in the car, delayed planes, bored children, that internal groan when someone suggests yet another game of I Spy… Does anyone even like I Spy? This holiday, try something different to pep up your trip and see if it really is about the journey, not the destination.
Pass the bomb: All right, don’t try that one on the plane! This is a car version of the “Pass the Bomb” game by Piatnik. In this game of association, players name words relating to a theme or category whilst passing a ticking bomb to one another before the bomb “explodes”. For example, if the theme is park, possible words are: flowers, bush, swings, birds, dogs, etc. In the car, players take turns at saying words before passing a red vehicle (a "bomb") in the oncoming lane. Think of all sorts of categories: straightforward ones like fruits, bush animals but also more obscure ones, like famous inventors, celestial bodies, spiky things.
Even if they can read and especially if they hate reading
Who needs convincing that reading aloud to children is a good idea? Not many people, it seems. According to Scholastic’s Kids and Family Reading Report, 77% of parents with children aged between 0 and 5 say they started reading to their child before they turned one. Unfortunately, that percentage drops significantly after age 5, despite both parents and children saying that they enjoy reading together. By that stage, children begin to read by themselves and perhaps parents feel that their job is done. Actually, there are many reasons to keep reading aloud to children even if they are independent readers. And for children who struggle to read, even more so. Kids with literacy difficulties and reluctant readers risk missing out on the many advantages of reading.
But, what are those benefits?
Applications are closing in September. In this blog, I try to answer FAQ's about LDC's.
"My child's teacher is suggesting a referral to an LDC. Do you think he needs it?" Unique to Perth (WA), LDC’s or Language Development Centres are independent public schools for children with language difficulties. They were created in the 80’s as an initiative of Marie Donovan, who was principal at the WA Deaf School. She noticed that non-Deaf students with language difficulties were progressing well in this environment and that their language needs weren’t always supported in mainstream schools. Following a trip to the UK and supported by a group of parents advocating on behalf of their children with language difficulties, Marie convinced her school director to open the first LDC class in 1984. At the time, it wasn’t common for speech pathologists to work in schools but Marie thought that they had an essential role to play in education. I am not about to disagree with her. Thank you, Marie! There are now 5 LDC’s across the Perth area: Fremantle, West Coast, North East, South East and Peel where eligible students receive a specialised language programme to support their education and literacy needs. Referrals typically need to be sent in September (see at the end of this article for exact dates in 2017).
For many parents, the possibility of a referral to an LDC raises questions, so I turned to Anna Taylor, speech pathologist at the North East Metro LDC with a few FAQ’s. Anna consulted with her team to answer those questions and I hope I can do justice to her very comprehensive answers. I also asked a couple of parents for their feedback on their LDC experience.
A look at a game that puts the fun back into reading
When it’s your job to make learning fun, you need imagination, a good sense of fun and resources that allow you to use both. Select the right activity and kids will work hard without even realising it. Many kids with literacy difficulties find reading a bit of a mountain to climb and I am always on the lookout for bite size reading activities for them. With this in mind, I recently purchased Tim’s Quiz, from Little Learners Love Literacy. I already have LLLL resources which I like a lot, so I was keen to try this one.
Tim’s Quiz is a set of 168 short decodable questions for beginning readers. The questions include digraphs, CVC, CCVC, CVCC*, common sight words and longer decodable words. Can cats hop? Are kittens the best pets? Is it a good plan to go camping in the jungle? The game consists of picking question cards, reading them, discussing them and sorting them according to their answers. Children get to decode, read, build fluency, comprehension and oral language AND they have fun while reading. The game really fits my purpose of short, sharp reading activities, but it delivers much more.
Hanen e-seminar review and discount code
When he was 3, his mother was advised to speak English only as learning two languages might confuse him and further compound his language difficulties.
This true story (and not the only one of its kind) happened many years ago. As a bilingual speech pathologist, I can attest that this advice, thankfully, is no longer the norm and that children with a language delay can learn two languages. Does that seem a bit counter-intuitive to you? As a professional, if you are going to encourage parents to raise their child bilingual in the presence of a language delay, you need solid evidence to back up your recommendations. Enter Hanen’s e-seminar: Boosting bilingual environments for young children: what the research says, a two-hour presentation for speech pathologists, students and professionals who work with children. I was asked to review this e-seminar and I just had to say yes. What’s not to love about on-demand online learning: get comfortable in your own space, pour yourself a cup of tea, get ready to take notes… At the end of this blog, you will find an access code to obtain a 40 % discount on this seminar. Read on to know what you’ll find in this seminar:
Making speech happen with late talkers
About 10 to 20% of toddlers are known as late talkers, i.e. 18 month to 20 month old children with less than 10 words and children aged 21 months to 30 months with less than 50 words and/or no two-word combinations. With adequate support, most of these children go on to develop appropriate language skills. I previously wrote about developing first words with late talkers. In this blog, I discuss simple strategies to help children expand the range of sounds they use so they can talk more.
Children need ongoing reading practice in order to make progress. This is especially true for beginning and struggling readers who can be reluctant to read. So, how can parents lighten the load without compromising on reading outcomes?
It is much easier (and effective) to do a little bit often, rather than a long session once in a blue moon. Some children may balk at the sight of books and school readers, so try working with single word flashcards instead. Seize the opportunity to do a bit of “on the fly” reading and to include reading as part of active play.
Speech pathologists are always on the lookout for new games and therapy ideas. With this in mind, I recently found the Home Speech Home website. It is full of resources, ideas, tips and resources for purchase. There is a blog, to which I subscribe. Through this blog, I found a fun app called What’s the Pic Articulation This articulation app is based on the age old principle of rewarding students for repeating target sounds over and over! In a nutshell, the app has a hidden picture that students have to identify. The picture is covered by smaller “stickers” (cookies, cute little pigs, funny babies, etc).
What makes a great book? There are many reasons to like books. For a speech pathologist, a good book is one that gets the conversation going.
Books with vivid pictures and very few or no words will elicit comments from children. Adults can respond to the children’s comments and follow their lead rather than the other way around. I like books by Sarah Garland. As the situations depicted in the books are familiar to the children, they are more likely to comment and start a conversation. Use the books as a starting point for language sessions involving role-play, vocabulary building, comprehension activities and a variety of creative activities.
Similarly, books with busy pictures are excellent. There’s always plenty happening and one discovers something new every time. Having no words in them, they work in any language, a plus for a bilingual clinic!
Last week marked the 50th anniversary of Playschool, an iconic educational children’s TV programme that has been captivating several generations of Australian children. Big Ted, Little Ted, Humpty and Jemima… they don’t look their age at all. In honour of this anniversary, the App Store was featuring Playschool apps last week. A recent study by Lisa Kervin of the University of Wollongong suggests that screen time that engages both parents and kids at the same time can be rewarding for both. There is one app I really like that does just that: it is ABC’s Art Maker. Featuring well-loved Playschool characters, the app is aimed at 2-6 year olds (but I know from experience that older kids – such as me – like it a lot too)!
Looking for language tips, activities and ideas? This blog is for parents, speech pathologists, teachers, educators and anyone with an interest in speech and language.