When your child begins to ask question it is certainly the cutest thing on Earth! It might not even start as the word and they may just hold their hands up as if to ask where. They are basically copying what they see us do. In order to promote questions such as “where” things or people need to disappear!
We find that using naturally occurring opportunities is always a great way to target “where”. Let’s say in your household one parent goes to work in the morning and you practice saying “Bye Bye”… after that person leaves ask “Where did ____ go?”. The more consistent you are with your language, the more likely they will try to imitate it and then ultimately say it independently. Also, do not hesitate to talk about where Mommy and Daddy actually are. They of course do not fully understand the concept of work, shopping, errands, etc. yet, but it’s teaching them that when people ask “where” it is referring to a place. It also helps give them a sense of time and routine (e.g. – we run errands in the afternoon).
And there are of course the millions of language opportunities that you can intentionally create, which is great for practicing object permanence. For instance, you can keep it simple and use a blanket and have a block disappear under the blanket and then ask “where” while also doing a confused gesture. You can also do more involved activities such as creating a sensory bin filled with rice, beans, grass, leaves, etc. Hide some of their favorite objects inside or magnets, animals, shapes, letters, etc. Before looking you can model “where” once again and then comment on what you find within the sensory bin. It’s a great vocabulary building activity!