Tag Archive | language development

Language Development That’s Beyond Comparisson

Remember that Sesame Street song, “One of these things is not like the other, some of these things are kind of the same….”?  Why was it a staple part of the program?  Because….being able to identify & express similarities and differences has much bigger implications than may appear.  This skill helps to strengthen memory, develop higher-order thinking skills, increase comprehension and helps promote thinking & communicating with clarity and precision.  Also as children grow, being able to compare and contrast will enhance their writing skills.  Today’s post provides and example of how to begin developing this skill with your toddler.

Here’s one activity we did today from the Leaping Lilies curriculum

 This week’s Theme: Dinosaurs

Activity DescriptionLet’s Talk: Use dinosaur figurines to engage your tot in conversation.  Encourage your tot to articulate the similarities and differences between the dinosaurs.

This Activity’s Main Area of  Development: Language Development

Specific Skill: Compare and contrast

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 2 years + 5 months


  • Vocabulary (Review some vocabulary before-hand)

– Review vocabulary that is specific to dinosaurs.  We did spikes, horns, claws, scary, friendly.

– Review ‘same’ and ‘different’.




  • Provide an Example (Show your tot how to compare and contrast)

– Modelling (meaning you do it first) is a good way to give an example.

– Doing one together can provide a guided example (they have help vs. doing it independently).  This is what we did (see video below)



  • Try it Independently (Encourage your tot to discuss the similarities and differences on his/her own)

– Gently correct mistakes and remind them of vocabulary. For example, if your to says the wrong colour or says something is the same when it really is different, you would just quickly review what the words mean.

– If your tot needs assistance, you can give clues.  Ex. (“I see this one has big sharp teeth.  Does that one have the same teeth?”)

– Let your tot choose the dinosaurs he/she would like to talk about.


Here are the girls’ attempts at comparing and contrasting independently.  It was fairly challenging for them so I gave them assistance (usually in the form of a question).

In case you can’t understand M in the video below: To contrast she notes the colours.  To compare she says they are both dinosaurs, they are both scary (and one is not happy).


This video starts out with M asking O which one she likes.   In case you can’t understand O in the video below: To compare she says they have long teeth, long arms and long claws.  To contrast she notes the colours.


The girls already compare and contrast things often when it is in relation to their life such as, “that girl has the same colour coat as me”, etc.  This also occurs frequently when reading books – click here to see a post about making connections between storybooks and self.  This idea of comparing/contrasting two things to each other vs. comparing/contrasting themselves with something is new and will continue to improve with practice.

Click here to see language development posts for 15-18 months

Click here to see language development posts for 18-24 months

Practice What You Preach

Although it can be super-cute when our babies mispronounce words, it is really beneficial to help them improve.  It’s not necessary to correct everything, all the time, but choose a few words or sounds per week to improve upon.  Choose words that your baby is confident with and uses frequently.  This is beneficial because it helps them to get what they need, to explain their thoughts and feelings and to develop their phonemic awareness (an essential skill for reading and writing).   Also, as more people begin to understand them, their confidence with language and oral self-expression increases and thus, their overall self-confidence increases.  Today’s activity is a very simple and quick exercise to practice pronunciation.

Our little twinkle toes practising her "cheese!"

Our little twinkle toes practising her “ch-ch-cheese!”

Mondays and Wednesdays I choose one activity we did today from the Reaching Roses curriculum and share our experiences (starring my twin babies)

 This week’s Theme: More Colours

Activity DescriptionWhat Colour?: Place different coloured balls into an opaque bag.  Reach a hand into the bag to pull out a ball.  What colour is it?  What other things are also this colour? Repeat what your baby says with correct pronunciation then practice the pronunciation of colours by singing about that colour. (Song from this week’s list of songs).

This Activity’s Main Area of  Development: Language Development

Specific Skill: Practice pronunciation

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 24 months!!


1.I decided to sing some songs about colours at the beginning of the activity because this is part of our learning routine.

2. We used cloths because we don’t have balls in all four colours (orange, purple, pink, brown).  I quickly explained what to do (put your arm in and pull out a cloth) and say what colour it is.  Simple!

Here are a few quick clips to demonstrate

This first clip shows the basic interaction of the exercise:


This next clip has more of an example of how to practice pronunciation (they didn’t have much difficulty saying brown in the video above):


The following video is an example of how to proceed if your baby can’t guess the colour.  Also, I chose “purple grapes” as an example of purple because they have difficulty saying ‘grapes’ and it is a word they use frequently (that only myself & Mr. Y can decipher):


***You can use this activity to learn any vocabulary (put in figurines or pictures) and/or any sound (put in objects that all contain the same sound.  Ex. pig, pot, princess, peas, etc.)

Want more language development activities?  Click here for 18-24 months OR click here for 15-18 months


This post was based on an activity included in the Reaching Roses curriculum.  Click here to learn more!

Decisions, Decisions!

Decision making is one of the most important skills babies can develop.  The ability to make a decision will help a baby to become a well-adjusted, confident child and then a healthy, mature adult.  Decision making is not necessarily a naturally simple task, and though we may not realize, it takes practice.  Let’s give our babies and children the opportunity to practice making decisions.  There are so many benefits from doing an activity like this (I’ve listed some below), I really encourage you to try it with the children you care for.

We went out of town this weekend and are on the road today so I prepared this post ahead of time (it’s an activity that we did last week).  This week we are moving on to a new theme “Transportation” – though today’s post doesn’t reflect the new theme.

Mondays and Wednesdays I choose one activity we did today from the Reaching Roses curriculum and share our experiences (starring my twin babies)

Theme: Meal Time

Activity Description Snack Time: Prepare a snack of several different elements (ex. Fruits & veggies, crackers, yogurt, etc.)  Pick up two of the foods and ask your baby, “Do you want this (carrot) or this (cheese)?  After a choice is made and the food is eaten, repeat with two different foods.  Continue.

This Activity’s Main Area of  Development: Cognitive

Specific Skill: Making a choice

O&M’s Ages (at the time of making this post): 19 months

M's says, "Hmmm....."

M’s says, “Hmmm…..”

O trying to decide

O trying to decide










What are some benefits of decision making activities?

  • They provide an opportunity to develop language and communication skills
  • They improve your baby’s self-awareness (they need to consider their preferences and comfort levels)
  • They help increase your baby’s self-confidence (they gain some control over their lives)
  • They provide an opportunity for self-expression
  • They will lead to better habits and taking responsibility (eating, dressing, helping with chores – because it is their choice)
  • They can help deal with and deflect tantrums

1. The first thing I did was review the food that was available for snack, asking the babies to repeat the words.  Then I began to offer a choice of two snacks just as is written in the activity description and I encouraged “please & thank you”.  The video below shows the basic interaction.


2. Next is an example of how teaching a baby to express what they want can help stop a tantrum or future tantrums.  In this example I am explaining that in order to get what she wants, she need to use words.  However, understanding the concept of making a choice can help deflect other tantrums too.  For example, if your baby is screaming and refusing to help clean you can offer a choice, “Would you like to clean the cars or the blocks?” or refusing to get dressed, “Would you like to wear this shirt or this shirt?”.  Giving them a choice and some control over the situation often causes the tantrum to melt away.  But first your baby needs to understand that you are offering the opportunity to make a choice. (That’s where these kinds of activities come in handy). Be advised this video starts out with some screaming…you might want to turn the volume down.


3. The following two videos show some examples of encouraging verbal communication.

This video shows how instead of simply allowing M to point to what she wants, I encourage her to say what it is, I repeat what she says with correct pronunciation and I encourage her to add “please”.  O complies first so I give it to her first and this leads to an example of how we share (using counting to take turns).


This video shows how to encourage more complex language (two or three words sentences instead of one word). O points to the goldfish she wants but instead of giving it to her right away, or asking her to say “fish”, I ask her to say three words.


A Show of Hands……(and feet)

Hi everybody!  Here’s another post I’ve been looking forward to doing; a Sing-along!  Every activity plan in Clever Clovers and Reaching Roses (coming soon) has a sing-along included (with song ideas and lyrics provided at the end of each activity plan).  Singing with your baby is so beneficial for so many reasons but this post is focused on the language development component (mainly vocabulary).

Mondays and Wednesdays I choose one activity we did today from the Clever Clovers curriculum and share our experiences (starring my twin babies)

 This week’s Theme: Hands & Feet

Activity Description: Sing Along: Sing songs about hands and feet. (See song list following the lesson plan for ideas).

This Activity’s Main Area of  Development: Language

Specific Skill: Connecting language to objects and motions

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 17 months + 2 Weeks

1. As many of you know, I often use a sing-along as part of our learning routine.  That is, I use it as a warm-up activity to whatever main activity we are going to do.  I find this works because they get to know the songs better (with a lot of repetition) and it prepares them for what will follow.

Pictures from today’s sing-along.  (I love how expressive they are becoming)

If you're happy and you know it, shout hooray!

If you’re happy and you know it, shout hooray!

M "sings"

M “sings”










O & random, silly singing sounds

O & random, silly singing sounds

You're funny, you're funny too!

Looking at each other while singing








O: "You're funny M!"

O: “You’re funny M!”

M: "You're funny too, O!)

M: “You’re funny too, O!








Silly falling-down during the hokey-pokey!

Silly falling during the hokey-pokey!

I couldn't NOT include the spontaneous kissing shot!

I couldn’t NOT include the spontaneous kissing!















How to teach songs to babies: (excuse my voice…I almost didn’t post these for fear of annoying you)



  • When singing, don’t be afraid to “pause” the song to give encouraging instructions.  For example, if your baby is not responding or doing the actions, you can pause after each line and say “do it like this!” or if your baby is just starting to participate you can pause and say “well done, good clapping!”(ex), then continue singing the next line.   This strategy is evident in a couple of the videos above.  Below is a slight example of this (in this case, they were being very silly so I had to pause and remind them of what they should be doing)


  • Personally, when I introduce a new song, I don’t use a recording of it.  I find it too fast and often distracting (in the case of language acquisition).  Once my babies/students become more familiar with a song, then I add music and/or a recording.


Extended Learning:

As a final activity, to sum up AND to calm them down, I sat them down to review the parts of the body they have learned.  We have already completed the My Face! activity plan, so this was a great opportunity to bring that prior learning of language/knowledge/comprehension forward. (See: Bringing Language Forward, pg.4 of the Clever Clovers Curriculum Guide)

Down on the Farm

We have come to the end of the Farm Animals activity plan from Clever Clovers.  What better way to culminate all of our mooing, baaing and cock-a-doodle-dooing, than by visiting a farm!  The weather was a bit more frigid than anticipated and the pig pen was dismantled, but other than that, we had a lovely time!

On alternating Fridays I blog about our final activity (starring my twin babies)

This week’s Theme: Farm Animals

Activity Description: Visit a farm, petting zoo or winter fair (where livestock is present)

This Activity’s Main Area of  Development: Cognitive, Gross Motor, Language, Social, Emotional

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 17 months + 1 week

1. We had to drive about an hour to get there so when we were in the car, I was explaining to them that we were going to a farm, where they could walk around and see ducks and cows and sheep!  They were excited.

2. When we arrived, as we were walking towards the farm, I was saying, look!  There is the big, red barn.  (I’m not sure how much they heard because they saw a bunch of Canadian Geese and starting yelling “duck & quack, quack!”)…. LOL!  If you’re not familiar with our visit to feed the “ducks” a couple of weeks ago, click here.

Sitting outside of the big red barn
Sitting outside of the big red barn

Here are some pictures from our visit:

O was waving "hello"

Curious beings

O being brave with the "horse"

O being brave with the “horse”








M's favourite: Rooster (it wasn't even one of our weekly words, she picked it up through stories and such.

M’s fave: Rooster (it wasn’t one of our weekly words), she picked it up through stories.

Cock-a-doodle-doo!  The rooster is the only fowl that she doesn't refer to as a duck.

Cock-a-doodle-doo! The rooster is the only fowl that she doesn’t refer to as a duck.









O spies some baby chicks.

O spies some baby chicks.


Quack, quack, M says (even though they are chickens)

Quack, quack, M says (even though they are hens)









M liked the cow but was tired and wanted to be carried.

M liked the cow but was tired and wanted to be carried.


M with the ducks (and other birds)

M with the ducks (and other birds)











So where are the videos you ask?  It seems that when I thought I was recording, I was not.  AND when I thought I was not recording, yup, you got it….I was.  So there’s a whole lot of feet and ground footage….I am pretty disappointed because there was so much excitement that I thought I was capturing.

I think taking children to a farm or petting zoo is a pretty common thing to do and obviously provides so much opportunity for exploration and learning.  But, because we have been learning about farm animals for two weeks, this outing was even more beneficial to learning.  That is, because the target language was needed/used in context (in a fun and natural way), this will help solidify their understanding.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!