Although learning language is a life-long process, developing language skills is really important in the early years of a child’s life. Engaging in conversations during daily routines and play, using descriptive words and labels, playing games with sounds, telling stories and singing songs, reading books, all foster language development.
Listening & Speaking
Language development includes listening and speaking skills. During circle time each day, we sing a little song or do a little rhyme. Five Little Eggs is one of the rhymes we learned. This one includes each child’s name as we repeat it. The repetition encourages the children to memorize it and say it together, incorporating listening and speaking skills. They love to hear their name when it’s their turn!
Using props like these wood eggs, a yellow scarf for straw and a basket for a nest, makes the rhyme come alive and keeps the group’s interest. It also encourages the children to revisit the activity again later and retell the rhyme themselves.
The theme poster is an excellent tool to use at circle time to build listening and speaking skills. I ask questions such as:
- Can you find something red?
- What is your favorite farm animal?
- I spy something round? What is it?
Open-ended questions are better for encouraging conversation.
I always enjoy the Rhyme Time poster. Nursery rhymes are not outdated! Nursery rhymes introduce language concepts such as alliteration: the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words as heard in “Goosie Goosie Gander”. Also onomatopoeias, which are the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named like “Baa Baa Black Sheep”. Don’t forget about imaginative imagery. Children hear these rhymes and act out what they imagine the characters are doing. Children develop their mouth and tongue muscles by using the different sounds in the rhyme.
We repeat the nursery rhymes a few times and then talk about the rhyming words. We also look for letters. Using a pointer makes this super fun and helps the children see that we read from left to right when I point to the words. I prompt the first child to look for a letter. After he or she finds it, they pass the pointer to another child and tell them which letter to look for. This really gets everyone involved.
Singing little songs makes learning language fun and memorable. We loved The Sun is Coming Up on Sunrise/Sunset day of Down on the Farm. This little song helped reinforce the concept of “sunrise” and “sunset” which could be vocabulary they are not familiar with.
Letters & Words
Little games make learning letters fun. On “egg day” of Down on the Farm, we used our alphabet bean bags as eggs. We just used a few, not all the alphabet bean bags. We walked around the letters singing “The Farmer in the Dell”. The kids took turns stopping to pick up the “egg” with the first letter of their name.
Phonological awareness is also important for preschoolers to learn. They can learn at an early age that letters make sounds to form words. Below, you see the In the Mud game. When pigs are hot how do you think they cool down? They lay in the mud! This game reinforces letter and word recognition. The child matches the pig piece to the mud puddle or the animals to the letters that correspond to the beginning sound in the animal’s name.
Each month we focus on three letters. A phonic photo poster, vocabulary letter cards and photos to go with each letter. We always talk about other words or names that start with the letter featured too.
One activity we did with the cards. Let’s look for the word that says “pig”. What does pig start with? What does “p” sound like? They do very well with this. With our mixed age group, the younger ones learn from the older kids.
Here’s a word family game. It may seem too advanced for preschoolers but I have some ready for this. The pocket cube is included with Mother Goose Time and used throughout the month.
Using the letter cards and stick manipulatives to make letter Hh. Fabulous hands on letter learning!
Here’s another letter recognition game called Fill the Silo. Kids always love games with a spinner!
I had these name tags from the Dollar Tree so I made name puzzles out of them. I cut apart the pieces and put them in an envelope with their name written on it. They loved it!
I Can Read! books are awesome! We always look forward to them. In this one, “we go” is the repeated phrase. Using the photo clues, the children can read the book. It isn’t an expectation the preschoolers will read, but it encourages emergent reading skills.
Perhaps the best language learning materials from Mother Goose Time are their books. Not only are the books adorable and fun, they come with a Storytelling Scene and Character Pieces. New this year, are coordinating puzzles. The book included in Down on the Farm is called “There’s a Cow in My House” and the music CD has a song with the same words. The repetition of the story throughout the month reinforces language skills. My group has the song and story memorized!
So many ways to learn language!
There’s a Cow in My House book!
We color, draw, and write every day. Once children start writing letters, usually around 4 years of age, you can’t stop them! The letter and vocabulary cards are perfect for kids to look at and copy down words. While working on our horseshoe collages, this 4 year old went to get the “horse” word card and wrote “horse” on her paper.
The words are written in lower case so beginning writers start to learn to write lower case letters too.
She traced the letters with multiple colors. Everything is better in rainbow!
My Little Journals are great for beginning writers. Some of the children trace the letters or shapes. Some follow the prompts I give for writing in their journals and some are just at the scribbling stage. It’s all okay. They are all writing! I love the journal pages below, where the 4-year-old drew pictures of horses and wrote “Horse”.
There are even more language resources sent each month that are not shown in this post, including:
- cookie cutter letters
- sight word pointers
- name tags
- draw & dictate activity
- Participation Story
- Make Your Own Bilingual Book
I hope you’ve enjoyed this overview of Developing Language Skills with Mother Goose Time. You can see the quality of learning that results from using this fun and playful curriculum. The Mother Goose Time blog has several posts and helpful videos covering language and literacy. Be sure to check them out!