The most difficult part of answering a “wh” questions is actually knowing the meaning of the “wh” word. For instance, you have to know that “who” is asking for a person, “where” is asking for a place, “what” is asking for a thing, “when” is referring to a time, and “why” is asking for a reason. “When” and “where” may still be too complicated for this age, but it’s always good to throw it in here and there.
When talking about “who” you can stick to basic things like looking through a photo album to label family members names or you can make it harder as in “Who drives a bus?”. Visual support is always welcome at this age and can be in the form of pictures, illustrations in books, videos, etc. And remind them that “who” is asking for a person.
As for “what”, it could be as simple as asking “What is this?” while using a flashcard, reading a book, etc. This usually only encourages a one-word response since it is not open-ended. You can make it slightly more complicated by saying “What do you see?”, “What do you need?”, etc. This allows for them to use a start phrase such as “I see a duck”. You can then go onto more difficult questions such as “What does a cow say?”, “What do you wear when it’s hot?”
When referring to “where” they have to know that you are asking about a place, so we find that when you’re walking down the street, driving, etc. it is helpful to talk about where you are going. You can even talk about the immediate here and now and ask “Where are you right now?” (e.g. – at home, in the car, in the stroller, etc.). It also gradually helps them understand concepts that are not tangible such as “Where is daddy?” (e.g. – work, on a business trip, etc.) – actual pictures of daddy at his workplace would also be great!
Your child has come to a point where they can play independently and it is time for them to join their play with words. At first, they may be labeling objects they’re picking up or see. Let’s say they’re in their play kitchen and they say “banana”. You can expand on it by creating a phrase “Let’s PEEL the banana”. Emphasize novel words and unique parts of a phrase to allow it to stand out to your child.
It’s all about input they are receiving. The more verbal modeling that you provide during play, everyday errands, etc. the more likely they are to start narrating their own actions. Feel free to initiate structured play with them. For instance, grab a tea set and start setting it up by saying phrases such as “Here’s a plate”. Then, take the teapot and say “Pouring tea”, pretend to drink it and say “Drinking tea” or “Wow! It’s hot!”, etc.
Another alternative is to chime in when they have already initiated play with an item on their own. “Oh the car is going up up up the garage!”, “The car needs gas!”, “We’re driving fast!”, etc. They do not have to repeat everything you are saying, but you are giving their actions words and meaning. You are also adding new vocabulary to their repertoire. For example, they may already know “car”, but “gas” might be a new word. To give it extra meaning, talk about getting gas when you’re actually at the gas station. Real life situations will encourage them to make more connections and make them more apt to using new words and longer phrases when on their own.
Do you hear your toddler producing /s/ with their tongue out? It’s never too early to model the correct production and try to correct it. Lisps are often very difficult to correct as a child gets older, so our motto is the earlier the better!
This part is too complicated for toddlers, but just so you know as an adult we produce the /s/ sound by putting our tongue tip on the alveolar ridge (bumpy ridge right behind our top teeth). You can show a toddler this by having them look at you or looking at a mirror while you overemphasize the sound to try to show them where their tongue goes. Sometimes we even like to use a tongue depressor or our finger to show them where our bumpy ridge is – for older children we even put a little bit of peanut butter on the spot so they know where their tongue is supposed to touch.
As for the manner in which the sound is produced it is called a fricative, which means it is a “hissing” type sound and air escapes through the teeth causing friction. One thing you can do which works with my toddler is bringing your teeth together or telling them to bite down while producing /s/. This may sound a bit exaggerated, but it makes sure their tongue does not come out.
Many other articulation errors are age-appropriate and can be categorized into phonological processes or patterns, but it is definitely important to keep an eye out and always model correct production. These issues sometimes grow into articulation disorders (which later may manifest themselves into problems with reading and writing) and you want your child to be understood by all listeners and to be able to form friendships easily.
We have two resources if you need further help. Our interactive iBooks: Vowels & Diphthongs and our Consonants iBook.
It’s never too early to start learning about chores and how to help out in the house!Now that your child is getting better at following directions feel free to intertwine basic “chores” into the daily routine.
It could be as simple as cleaning up. From an early age we started the clean up song even when he did not speak just so he got used to the melody and words. At this point you can sing it along with them and see if they hum along or imitate any of the words. Just hearing the song will trigger cleaning up after playtime or even mealtime. Once they get used to the routine they will begin cleaning up on their own, sometimes even singing the song all by themselves!
Specific directions you can give is “Give me your cup/plate/fork and let’s put it in the sink” (they most likely cannot reach yet even with a step stool, but it’s good to practice), “Put your ____ in the dishwasher”, “Throw it in the garbage”, “Go get me a paper towel”, “Put your socks away” (or any clothing), “Walk the dog”, etc. We even found working on colors while doing laundry is an excellent receptive language task (e.g. – dark vs. light or putting all the red socks together).
It’s the saddest thing when kiddos are sick, but if they can express themselves when they are it makes it 10 times easier for us! Here are some go-to phrases to teach and model for your child.
“I don’t feel good” or “I feel sick”
“Tummy hurt” or any “Body part + hurt”
Comments such as “Yucky” or “Gross”
“I need sleep” or anything else they may need such as an ice pack or even a hug
“I want daddy”
Many will also ask “wh” questions like “why” and it’s a prefect opportunity to explain to them what is going on in their body! Hope the germs stay away and you all stay healthy! Summer is right around the corner ☺
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!
A great way to achieve 2-3 word phrases is to learn words other than nouns. This can include prepositions, adjectives, etc. This week we will talk specifically about using size descriptor words to expand phrases.
The first step as always is modeling what you want your child to say. In terms of size, “big” always seems to stand out. Try to find huge items in the home or outside such as big chair, big slide, etc. to comment on. A tip is to also make a big deal about it in order to emphasize it – “Wow look that’s a big moon!”. They may initially imitate the word “big”, so keep adding onto that word by verbally modeling such as “Yes it’s a big step”, “You’re right that’s a big orange”, etc.
Once they get the hang of that you can target the opposite “small”. We like to target this by starting with a big piece of fruit and cutting it up into smaller pieces to show them the difference. It’s a great activity to do with play dough as well! And feel free to use synonyms such as “tiny” when you’re teaching size. Other size concepts later on could be short vs. tall, wide vs. narrow, etc.