Snack is my favorite time to teach language because who doesn’t love to eat?! Kids also are quick to help out in the kitchen so it’s easy to get ’em talking during snack.
Today’s post will be all about making your own snack but if you need a quicker and cleaner snack idea, check out this post.
When you’re using a food activity to create language opportunities, you can approach it two different ways. You can either focus on eliciting spontaneous language from the child or you can pick a specific language target to work on.
(If you’re a parent that just wants to try to get your child talking, skip the next section : )
Specific Language Targets
If you’re going with a specific target, you need to be very specific about what it is. Creating language opportunities takes prior knowledge of what your child can do independently, with help, and what is still challenging. Does your child need to increase their basic vocabulary? Are you working on prepositions? What about -ing verbs? Is this activity to increase MLU?
After you’ve picked your general language target, you need to get down to the specifics of what you want to teach. You don’t want to be vague like “Oh, we’re just working on prepositions.” Nope, you need to plan which prepositions you are going to target and also take into consideration what is the typical acquisition of prepositions.
For today’s example, let’s talk about how we’d incorporate language while making pudding.
Let’s get this pudding started!
This next section is in “Choose Your Own Adventure” style so that you can see how you could individualize this activity. Each bullet point will be a specific step with custom approaches you can take. “A” will the best easiest option and “B” will be more ‘language involved.’
- Materials to Make the Pudding
- Get out all of the materials ahead of time but place them out of sight. Ask your child what they think you’ll need to make pudding. As you talk about the items you would need, pull out each item individually.
- Encourage your child to say what they think you’ll need to make pudding. You can give the clues and hints about where to find the items. As your child labels the items you’ll need, you can go and get them together.
- Example: “We need something cold and white. It’s in the fridge. What do you think it is?”
- Following the Directions
- Read the directions to your child and together decide which materials you need for each step. Start making the pudding together.
- Read a direction and then complete the step by having your child explain back to you what to do. This is where you can really work on your specific language target.
- For example, let’s say your child tells you to “Pour the milk” and you’re working on prepositions. Use some sabotage a pretend to almost pour the milk in the wrong location. By being silly, your child will need to give you very specific directions to stop you from pouring milk on your head!
- Asking for Turns
- When you’re making the pudding, talk about taking turns doing things like stirring the pudding or pouring the milk. Encourage your child to say what they want to do.
- Prompt your child to ask for a turn with phrases like “I wonder what you want to do next.” Saying “I wonder” will naturally create a situation where your child is more likely to respond in a full sentence like “I want to stir the pudding” instead of a one word answer like “Stir.”
When it’s time to chow down
Once the pudding is made and it’s time to eat it, you can keep the language activity going. Talking about the steps to make the puddings, what were silly things that happened, favorite steps in the activity and make predictions and things that could have happened. Like what would the pudding be like if we put orange juice in it?
Now that you’ve been really intentional and deliberate with your language targets, you can focus on just encouraging the child to continue talking. This is your opportunity to review the target language using Auditory Bombardment.
My students love making pudding! We can literally keep this language activity going for 20 minutes and the students will pay attention because it’s really interactive, they get to take turns helping make the pudding, and I’ve made it super silly with sabotage! If we want to mix it up, we’ll add things like marshmallows or even raspberries into the pudding or get vanilla pudding and add food coloring. Pudding is very easy to customize!
Give it a try and let us know how it went in the comments below.