5 Simple Word Games to Improve your child's Language Skills - in the bath or in the car
How easy Word Games can improve children's language skills - for free!
We want our children to be great at communicating and one way we can help them is by fitting in little games that improve their vocabulary and well as their listening and thinking skills.
These are all games that would work well with children above three; most of the games can be adapted so that younger children can have a bit of extra help to join in with older siblings. None of these games need any equipment or preparation - just an adult and a child/children listening hard to each other. So these little games are perfect for bathtime, car journeys, whilst doing little jobs together or whenever you have time together
Ideas for activities to help Speaking and Listening Skills
1) Word Associations
This game is incredibly simple as the players just take it in turns saying a word that they associate with the word that has gone before e.g. pineapple, mango, sweet, kitten, cat etc. Theoretically you are not meant to hesitate, repeat a word that has already been used or say something that hasn't got a clear connection to the previous word. When we play in our family we aren't too strict, but it's good to keep a fast pace so the associations are relatively instinctive. I find it's interesting to ask children to explain any 'unusual' associations e.g. cat and grass - the child usually has a good reason!
2) Who am I?
Asking relevant questions (as well as remembering the answers!) are vital skills. For this game I think of someone I could be - anyone that everyone in the family definitely knows: it could be someone that they know personally like Grandma or a neighbour, or a famous person/character such as Marcus Rashford or Peppa Pig. Children take it in turns to ask questions to help narrow down who you are - for older children, they have to form questions that can only be answered with 'yes' or 'no'. Children take it in turns and are working as a team, trying to work together to find out who the adult is.
3) What am I?
This is very similar to the previous game except that I am an object. It's great game to help children ask 'broad' questions like 'Did you grow or were you made by humans?''Would I ever find you inside a house? etc'. I tend to answer the questions directly to begin with, but add additional helpful information to steer them in the right direction after a few questions if they aren't making much progress!
4) The neighbour's cat (using descriptive words)
This helps children learn a range of adjectives and work on their memory skills, as you take it in turns adding a word that describes the neighbour's cat - it doesn't need to make sense, the cat can be energetic and lazy at the same time!
If your child already knows letter sounds and has some idea of the alphabet then you can do the describing words alphabetically, but it's no problem if not and it's just a random list of adjectives. Each time the person whose go it is repeats the adjectives that other people have used and adds a new one e.g. 'The neighbour's cat is an angry cat' 'The neighbour's cat is an angry, beautiful cat.' 'The neighbour's cat is an angry, beautiful, calm cat'.
Again, in our family we don't make it competitive: if someone is struggling to remember a word then they get a reminder, or if they can't think of a word starting with 'q' then the rest of the family gives suggestions and they choose their favourite.
5) Make a story with these things in it
For this game, you need to come up with three random objects and we see if we can make up a story that features them all. (If you are playing in the bath, then picking a few cards at random from Janod Memory Game is a good way to choose items.) For example Lighthouse, Frog and Banana. I let the child choose if they want to make up the story themselves or for us to take it in turns adding to the story. Someone else can then come up with three different objects for the next story.
The first few times they play this game, children tend to tell extremely brief stories and mention the three words within about two sentences. That's fine but it's great to help build their story telling skills so I gently add a bit more detail to my stories to show how they can be a bit longer and ideally have a bit of a beginning/middle/end. I don't make them too long though so they kind of seem comparable with the children's stories.
Hope you and your families have a lot of fun with some of these ideas!