Whether it is breakfast, lunch, or dinner, fruit salad is a delicious snack for many of us! You can use the task of preparing the fruit salad as a useful activity to teach your child new words! Doing this task together helps to build your child’s language skills, and trains their motor skills at the same time.
Before beginning to make the fruit salad, take your child to the shops to buy the ingredients you will use. Embrace every opportunity to help your child become familiar with new vocabulary. Make sure to choose a place with minimal background noise when going shopping for the fruit. Smaller markets or food shops can be better listening environments than a supermarket, as they’re often quieter, with less people, stress, and background music.
Plan the Shopping Trip
This early preparation will help your child learn the language more quickly—the more engagement they have with the vocabulary the sooner they will begin to say the words.
- Before you go shopping, talk to your child about your plans. Tell them you want to make some fruit salad. See if they know what this is and what ingredients are usually used.
- Find pictures of fruit salad to show your child, and point out the different fruits that people use. If you already have some of the fruit you will use, show it to your child. Ask them what else you might need to buy, or what they might like to eat.
- Cut pictures out of magazines and make a visual shopping list with your child.
Buy the Ingredients
The more you talk about the fruit, repeating the name and other descriptive language, the sooner your child will match the name with the fruit.
- Find out what fruit your child can already label by asking for the fruit first, but make sure not to point or gesture where they are. Say: “I am looking for the apples” and pause while your child looks for the apples.
- If they don’t point, pick up, or direct their gaze to the apples, it may mean they have not learned to match the name with the fruit—it’s time to teach it! Pick up an apple and talk about the name, the color, the shape, the smell and the texture.
- If your child can already match the word “apple” to the object, you can still teach them new vocabulary by talking about the apple’s color, texture, smell, and taste. You might also ask your child what they would like to eat the apple with, for example “Do you like to eat the apple with muesli for breakfast, or with ice cream for dessert?”
- Repeat these steps with all the fruit you are going to use for your fruit salad.
Once you are back home with your groceries and have all the fruit you need, ask your child what other tools you will need for preparing the fruit salad. This will include a knife, cutting board, and bowls. Ask your child to get these from their place in the kitchen, or to identify the object before you reach for them. This strategy of using listening first helps you to find out what words they know and which ones they are still learning.
Cut the Fruit Salad
Now that you have all the preparation tools and the ingredients, you’re ready to make the fruit salad! Make the preparation a conversation where you and your child both speak in turn. This helps your child to learn about taking turns in conversation, as well as teaching them new words.
- Cut the fruit into different shapes and sizes and talk about this with your child. “I’m going to cut this one like a triangle. What other things look like a triangle?” or, “What shape is this?” and wait for them to give the correct shape name, or teach them these new words.
- Ask your child in what order they would like to cut up the fruit. “Which fruit would you like to cut first?” You can see if they remember the new words they learnt on the shopping trip.
- Ask your child if they have a favorite kind of fruit, or why they like one more than another. You can also ask them what kind of fruit their relatives or friends like. “Does your little sister like strawberries too, or does she prefer banana?
- Look closely at the fruit and talk about its skin, seeds, and texture.
- Then it’s finally time to eat! Ask your child how they are going to eat their fruit salad. “Are you going to add yogurt?” “Are you going to eat it inside or outside?” “Is it for dessert, or an afternoon snack?”
However you like to eat your fruit salad, we hope you and your child enjoy it!
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