Create and learn

With Christmas approaching and school winding down, now is a great time to spend some quality time with kids creating gifts for family and friends. Spending time together is great for keeping the kids happy and helps build quality relationships. It is also a great time for learning. If you talk together as you create your kids will be learning all kinds of things without even realising it. The Talking Matters pintrest page is filled with great activities for kids of all ages. In this blog we will look at few of the best ones and how they can be used to develop kids language skills.

Ideas for toddlers

Hand print Christmas tree A lovely gift for a grandparent or special family friend.

Lots of wonderful ideas for messy crafty play, I am sure you could find something for a little person to make and then frame it for an adoring grandparent, who might love some action photos of the making process to go with it. All made from cheap things from the "one dollar shop".

Play Christmas tree wall hanging. A lovely wall decoration that your kids can play with and which will keep little visitors entertained as well.

When making things with toddlers:

Use the opportunity to teach your child new words. Toddlers learn lots and lots of new words at this age, through repetition and practice. Simple craft activities give you the chance to let your toddler hear the same words over and over. As well as names of new things take the chance to let your toddler hear action words: cut, print, push, mix, pour, and describing words: colours, size, shape, texture, smell.

Help your child to combine words together: Craft activities give your child the chance to hear words used in new ways. Use contrasts to help your child learn concepts and expand the way they combine words, "big star, little star, shiny star, pink, star, cut star, paste star, one star, two stars, more stars and so on.

For more ideas of developing language in toddlers click here.

Preschoolers

Oh wow! I am sure there are calories in just reading this great post. Kids love to cook and they can learn all kinds of things while making snacks for visitors or gifts for family and friends. Click here for a wonderful collection of 100 Christmas cookies.

25 Christmas themed books A great collection of Christmas themed books for preschool and junior primary aged children. Check out the local library and read one per night leading up to Christmas for a cosy, sharing family time.

Clothes pin butterfly A great activity for developing concentration and fine motor skills as a preparation for school type tasks later on as well as a great opportunity to learn counting, colours and concepts. The result is a lovely gift for a favourite aunt or neighbour.

When creating with preschoolers:

Help your child refine their grammar and speech skills, by talking together and modelling back clearly any words or sentences that are not quite right. "look at my butterfwy", "yes a butterfly, a very pretty butterfly" "I maked it for grandma" "yes you made it for grandma, I am sure she will love that you made it yourself".

Help your child learn to link sentences together into texts such as stories and procedures. One great way to do this is by sharing stories together, then encouraging your child to tell you the story back from the pictures. Another way is to talk about the steps in an activity. You can talk about the way you made something, what you did first, next and last. You can also take photos as you go and look at them with your child and talk about the steps in order.

For more ideas for developing language in preschoolers click here.

Junior primary

Kids of this age love jokes. Here are some Christmas themed jokes that you could use for kids to practice speech sounds, reading or writing skills. You could learn some jokes to tell family members, put them into an advent calendar to read each day, write them into cards for friends or make your own crackers for Christmas day using crepe paper and cardboard cylinders left over from wrapping paper.

Activities advent calendar As a change from lollies this advent calendar idea has a fun activity to do each day.

Pipe cleaner alien A slightly more complex craft activity that an older child could make for a younger child. They could write a script for their alien characters, make some props and make a film to go with their aliens or take photos and make a book to give to their younger friend or cousin.

The biggest language challenge for children of this age is to develop literacy skills. Literacy and language are closely related so the more you talk with your school aged kids the better their literacy skills will be. Using fun reading and writing activities with a real purpose can help encourage reluctant readers. Remember to be positive and encouraging, so your child learns to enjoy literacy activities and to feel successful.

For early literacy skills for beginners click here. For more literacy activities click here.

Older kids

Why not make a fun play castle from cardboard boxes and cylinders to give to a younger child as a gift to play with on Christmas day. Add some small figurines and write a story to go with your castle and characters, that can be read together and acted out.

This idea is for valentines day but could make some nice Christmas themed gift tags or fridge magnets for friends and relatives. Just use Christmas coloured crayons and Christmas themed mini muffin trays. Try to write a different personal message on each one.

Okay this is from a birthday party activity, but what a great idea for Christmas night, glowstick blowing pins. to keep the kids busy and happy.

If all that does not inspire you enough try this fantastic post for 155+ Christmas crafts and activities for kids of all ages.

The Talking Matters team hopes all our families, colleagues, friends and followers have a fun and happy time preparing for the Christmas season.

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