There are lots of fun and simple Montessori games that you can use to help your child develop their language skills. I have included some below that are suitable for children aged from about 3 years upwards. These start simply and progress over time, as your child becomes ready, to more complex activities.
Keep games fairly short, only playing one at a time and then another much later or on another day so that your child stays interested and happy to discover the next game when it comes. This is important so that their brain can process the new information properly and they will be thinking about sounds and letters when they are just playing normally, and unconsciously reinforcing everything they are learning with you.
Make sure your verbal and non-verbal signals are fun, happy and excited! These games are so enjoyable and you must always convey that to your child.
Give lots of experiences with words to show that language is everywhere and so they can notice things when they are on their own and unconsciously reinforce everything, e.g. reading stories and children’s poems, singing songs together, pointing out letters when you are out and about (on shops, road signs, toys, at the supermarket), involving them when you are reading or writing (shopping lists, reading the paper, birthday cards), visiting the library and finding factual books about things that interest them.
Simple games to play can include:
• I Spy with my little eye something beginning with… (from 2 and a half years old upwards):
o 1 object in my hand )
o 2 objects or more ) use the beginning sound only
o any object in the room )
o beginning and ending sounds
o beginning and ending sounds, and listen and discover sounds in between
o think of all words with a particular sound in, e,g. ‘m’ for mummy, moo and marshmallows (has two ‘m’ sounds in), magnificent etc. (including simple and any more complex and interesting words to expand vocabulary).
• Rhyming Games (from 2 and a half years old upwards):
o Play rhyming games to help your child hear the sounds in all words and increase their vocabulary.
o Think of all the words that rhyme with… e.g. tree - bee, see, me, she, flea, knee, pea etc.
o Repeat with other sounds.
o Make up silly poems with rhyming words, e.g. There was a bee, next to the tree, I think it wanted some honey, I hope it doesn’t try to sting me, or whatever.
• Matching Game (from 3 and a half years old upwards):
o Write a letter on a bit of paper and find various objects or pictures to match its sound with – you can also go round the house looking for matching things together, inside and outside, e.g. ‘c’ with cup, cat, coins, coffee etc.
o Keep the written letter with the objects / pictures so the link is easily seen or take the letter with you when you go looking for objects around the house.
o Also try to match the sound with the ending sound or middle sounds of objects / pictures.
• Object Game (from 4 years old upwards):
o Discovering the sounds that familiar objects are made from.
o Collect a few objects with very simple spellings, e.g. box, hat, bag, doll, cup, cat, pen etc.
o Write a ‘secret’ message on a small piece of paper and then ask your child to read each letter, e.g. b, o, x. Then both of you say each sound, slowly saying them a bit quicker each time until eventually they come together to sound like the word and you ‘discover’ they make ‘box’!
o Place the paper word underneath the object, repeat the word ‘box’ and make a big deal out of them reading it all by themselves and ask if they’d like to read another secret message.
o Repeat for all the objects, each time slowly linking the sounds together with them until they can do that by themselves.
o Then mix up all the paper words and ask them to read each one and put it under its object.
o Also, afterwards encourage them to choose one or more words to write for themselves to make their own labels.
• Making Simple Phonetic Words (from 4 years old upwards):
o Use pre-written letters (e.g. fridge magnet alphabet) to make very simple words.
o Start with simple, phonetic 2 letter words, e.g. in, on, up, if etc. Decide on a word to write and ask your child what the first sound we hear is, e.g. in – ‘i’. Ask them to find that letter and place it in front of you on the table. Then ask what the next sound we hear is – ‘n’, they find the letter and we place it next to ‘i’. Then we read the word, sound it out again and read it again.
o Decide on another word and repeat.
o Continue with 3 letter words, e.g. mum, dad, leg, bed, top etc.
o Also, afterwards encourage them to choose one or more words to write for themselves.
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