You know that thing about two birds with one stone? This is an easy-to-adapt activity that does just that with "categories" and "conjunctions."
Categories are included in early childhood core standards, standardized language assessments, and are part of language and cognitive development.... so they are worth working on with your child. Now your child can learn how to visually sort and categorize by grouping pictures or toys but what about the language skills to explain the process? #conjunctions
What are Conjunctions?
Conjunctions are a great grammar target to pair with categories and sorting. Conjunctions are the words: but, and, then, if, or, yet, so. These are the words you throw into the middle of a long sentence like "I'm thirsty so I'll get some water" or "I like cookies but I want ice cream." Conjunctions are what you naturally use to explain cause and effect, identify similarities and differences, and to sequence events.
Conjunctions & Language Topics
Here are a few ideas of conjunctions that you can pair up with language topics. For example, if you're working on narrative skills and need to help your child practice explaining the sequence of events, then "and, so, then, after, before" would be good conjunctions to introduce.
Cause/Effect = So, If, Then, Or
Similarities/Differences = But, And, Or, Because
Sequence Events = Then, And, So, Then, After, Before
There are a lot more conjunctions like "since" and "until." I feel like "so, but, and" are the easiest to teach first and they pair up so nicely with sorting and categorization!
Activities to Teach Conjunctions
You can teach conjunctions in a variety of ways. Here a few quick ideas:
- Informal Interactions with Auditory Bombardment
- Sorting Activities
The easiest strategy (I think) to informally introduce your target word is auditory bombardment. Auditory bombardment is an informal teaching strategy because you're using it in casual conversation and making it a part of your child's language environment. You will model the target word in your conversation. It's kinda like "inception" learning, your child doesn't even know it's happening!
Use your target word in a variety of situations so that your child has a lot of exposures to the word. Throw your target word into conversations and comments at bedtime, playtime, when cooking, or when buckling up in the carseat.
Here are a few examples:
- "I'm hungry so I'm going to make dinner."
- "I need the keys so I can unlock the car."
- "We buckle the carseat so we are safe."
- "I like to play with puzzles but the puzzles are gone so I'll play with the cars."
- "This jacket is blue but this jacket is green."
Customize your plan of action to fit your child's interests. Using "toy dump" to instigate your activity is a good strategy to get your child involved as a your little helper.
"Accidentally" dump out a bunch of toys are sort them why you put them away. Be intentional about the toys that are mixed together so that there are natural groups.
You could combine farm and wild animals, dinosaurs and zoo animals, or different types of blocks. Try sorting by categories, shapes, colors, and sizes.
You could use these Mega Bloks to sort colors!
Be sure to use your conjunctions when you clean up!
- "This is a lego so it goes in the bucket."
- "That is a book so it goes on the bookshelf. "
- "This is a dinosaur and this is a wild animal."
- "This car is red but this truck isn't red."
- "This truck doesn't go here because it's not an animal."
- "This is big but that is even bigger!"
Sorting Laundry into Categories
Getting stuff done around the house is seriously hard work especially when your little helper likes to get out all the things. I feel like I'm always trying to catch up on housework and never have it all done.
Sorting clothes is one of those two-birds-with-one-stone activities.
You get laundry done. Score!
The little helper is engaged with a productive activity. Win!
You work on your child's language skills. #3birds1stone
So while you're sorting clothes, use as many sentences as you can with conjunctions and encourage your child to do the same.
Need help with language prompting? Check out this post.
Here are some things you could say while sorting laundry:
- "These socks are the same color so they go together."
- "This is daddy's shirt so it goes here."
- "Uh oh, these are your socks so they don't go with daddy's shirts."
- "These go together because they are both pink."
Putting Away Groceries
You can talk about the kinds of food you got at the grocery store while you're putting away groceries. Here are some examples:
- "The carrot is a vegetable so it goes in the crisper."
- "This carrot is big but these carrots are small."
- "The peanut butter and turkey are proteins but the cereal isn't."
That's a Wrap
By this point, I'm confident that you've got the hang of this whole "conjunctions" and "categories" business! Use auditory bombardment to informally teach your child conjunctions and throw together a few pre-planned situations where your child can practice use the target conjunctions herself.
Developing language skills takes time but what better way than by seizing the day?
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