Kristina is one of the moms behind the amazing blog, Toddler Approved. Kristina is the mom to a preschooler and a baby. I’ve featured Toddler Approved many times on It’s Playtime, so a guest post swap on our blogs was a must!

She’s very fun at sneaking in learning. Especially name recognition. One of my all time favorite posts at Toddler Approved is her name twister game. It seems she may have a boy full of energy, just like Henry! (Her number hockey game is also a must see!)

Today, I’m over at her blog. We’re not only swapping blogs, we’re swapping literacy ideas. Since I’m not an educator, this made me kind of nervous. But, Henry and I discovered a fun twist on reading that I think you should all give a try tonight. I’ve even challenged you all!

Kristina has a very valuable post written here that I am ecstatic to share with you:

Hi friends! I am so excited to be visiting from over at Toddler Approved! Jamie invited me to share some tips about how to incorporate language learning into every day interactions with our children.

As a teacher for children with communication disabilities (and a parent of a baby and preschooler), I have always been amazed at how many times we as adults can miss opportunities to teach children language while we play and interact with them.

Here are FIVE of my favorite ways to embed language learning in playtime… (Sometimes I am even sneaky about it.)

1. Organize your play space in a way that requires your child to communicate. Keep play materials visible, but make sure that some highly motivating materials are out of reach!
When a child is asking for a toy they really want, you can motivate them to use a complete sentence to make a request, you can help them practice using polite language (please/thank you), and you can help them to interact with their peers by prompting them to ask their friend for help or helping them work together to problem solve.

2. Build on your child’s interests and delve into complex vocabulary.
Have you ever caught yourself using a really hard word with your preschooler and then thought…

“I should dumb that down a bit?”


Words that are new and unique to kids stick in their memories! My three-year-old son is obsessed with volcanoes right now so we made a play-doh volcano the other day and learned some tough sixth grade level volcano vocabulary words like caldera, fissure, and shield. He loved the activity AND learning new words. I am a firm believer that when we challenge kids with hard things, they will often prove to us that they can do more than we think!

3. Use photos of your child and family members in projects, playtime, and other activities.
Nothing is more motivating to toddlers and preschoolers than themselves!
My friends and family laugh at how many photos I take, but my son will talk and talk about what he did and can describe events so much better because he has a visual cue to help him along.

4. Get moving!
I’ve discovered that when I pair learning language with moving, kids learn 150% more than they would have if they were sitting still at a table doing a project. The act of doing… along with talking and seeing, really gets their brains moving!
Our Ocean Animal Movement activity is by far my most shared blog post, and that is probably because kids enjoy moving their bodies while learning about ocean animals and building on their vocabulary.

5. Create and play with interesting materials that are open-ended and can be used in a variety of ways, and then model language while you create.
I don’t know about your house, but the toys and materials at our house that are electronic or can only be used in a specific one-two ways get tossed aside pretty quickly.
Blocks, Little People, trains, cars, Legos, pipe cleaners, pom poms, lids, play-doh, boxes, and other materials that can be used in multiple ways are the favorites around here.
I love to set up materials and play spaces with interesting materials, and see what happens. Exploration leads to asking lots of questions and learning new vocabulary at our house.

These FIVE tips are pretty basic, but they can really enhance your child’s language learning.



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