We’ve talked about how musical sounds can help to teach language to your child, and here are two more ways that you can build these skills: with rhymes and songs.
When playing these games it can help to use child-directed speech; because child-directed speech helps you talk to your child and share important information, in a way that also helps him or her to better hear the important parts of grammar in speech. These parts are for example the word endings and the “s” sound in plural words, the stresses on key words, and important pauses like those where a comma would be in written speech.
Teach Language with Rhyme Time!
Rhymes are a great way to teach your child about language, because they use repetitive language, both words and sentence structures, and they are often paired with an enjoyable melody.
You can say rhymes with your child in a few different ways:
- Just using the words in the rhyme
- Using the words paired with actions
- Using the words while tapping or clapping out the beat
To make telling rhymes more interactive and play based, it could help to grab some relevant toys to help your child connect the rhyme’s content with real-life objects.
Here are two different rhymes we suggest:
Two Little Dickie Birds
This rhyme is all about birds, so if you have some toy birds or paper printouts, bring them along.
Two little dickie birds
Two little dickie birds sitting on a wall
One named Peter one named Paul
Fly away Peter
Fly away Paul
Come back Peter
Come back Paul
As you’re talking through the rhyme take the birds and play along with them: set them on a wall, have them fly away, and then return.
This Little Piggy
Just like the one above, this rhyme focusses on animals: pigs, specifically. So grab some toy pigs or paper printouts.
This little piggy went to market.
This little piggy went to market.
This little piggy stayed at home.
This little piggy has roast beef,
This little piggy had none.
And this little piggy cried “Wee! Wee! Wee!” all the way home.
When teaching your child rhymes it’s best to stick with a few proven or familiar ones for you and your family, instead of always introducing new ones. That way, your child can become familiar with certain rhymes, have a chance to get to learn them, and really get the most enjoyment out of them through repetition and familiarity.
Introducing Fingerplay to Teach Language
Fingerplay is combining rhymes, like those above, with hand movements. This is best for children who have started to develop their fine motor skills, usually from age 3, but can be introduced with younger children as well.
One example of fingerplay would be wiggling your child’s toes to correspond with each of the pigs in This Little Piggy: the big toe for the first pig, the second toe for the second pig, and so on. Then for the last line, “Wee! Wee! Wee!”, you can wiggle all your child’s toes or just tickle his feet.
And for Two Little Dickie Birds, here’s one of the common fingerplays to correspond with each line. Start by holding your hands down in a fist and then sticking out one finger from each hand.
- Two little dickie birds
Wiggle each finger to attract attention.
- Two little dickie birds sitting on a wall
Wiggle just the left finger.
- One named Peter one named Paul
Wiggle just the right finger.
- Fly away Peter
Pull your hand away and close it into a fist.
- Fly away Paul
Pull your other hand away and close it into a fist.
- Come back Peter
Reverse step 4: pull your hand away and stick out the finger.
- Come back Paul
Reverse step 5: pull the other hand away and stick out the finger again.
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This post was written with help from Julie Kosaner.