The holidays are a fun and festive time for families but we all know they can be financially devastating! Not only are gifts expensive, but many special activities such as Santa brunches and Polar Express train rides can be quite pricey to participate in, especially for those with more than one child! Do not forget to include some classic, free, and festive family time by taking your kiddos out looking for holiday lights! Tis the season for language and learning opportunities! Let’s discuss the different ways you can use this activity to help support some vocabulary and communication development.
Just a reminder: We always want to work at or slightly above our child’s language level. So if you trying to elicit 1-2 word utterances, you will be modeling a range of 1-3 word utterances for your child. Utilizing core vocabulary so that you can present multiple useful words in different contexts allows for repeated exposure. Here are some examples of simple utterances with core words that can be modeled while looking at lights:
MORE: more lights, more houses, more walking (or “more driving” depending on how you are traveling to view the lights) more Santa, more snowmen, more colors, more white lights, more candy canes, more snowflakes, I see more.
GO: Let’s go, time to go, go there, go by Santa, go see, go see more, go home, go out, we go, I go.
SEE: I see lights, I see Santa, I see sleigh, I see candy canes, I see colors, I see trees, I see decorations, see more, let's go see.
Additional simple comments: Wow, pretty, I like, So nice!
If your child is using longer utterances, here are some language skills you can target while looking at lights. Remember to model each skill and then ask your child to reciprocate by sharing their opinion.
What types of decorations are your favorite? You can also ask your child to share something they like or do not like at each stop.
Examples to model:
“I love multi-color lights like these.”
“I think blow-up displays like this snowman are fun!”
Talk about how displays are similar or different. Again, model so your child can reciprocate!
“This house has big snowflakes, but that one has small ones!”
“Both these houses have candy canes on the lawn.”
“This house is trimmed with white lights and that one has only colors.”
You can also use this time to teach new vocabulary words. Using words that have the same meaning in conversation is a natural way to teach about this topic.
“Did you see that LARGE snowman on the lawn? There’s a BIG one over there too!”
“There’s another TINY reindeer. I like these SMALL ones.”
If this is an area of weakness for your child, practicing during a fun, family activity may be more motivating and less stressful than participating in an academic task. Some questions you can ask are:
WHAT do you see?
WHICH one do you like?
WHERE is _________? (i.e. “Where is the snowman?”)
WHO is on the lawn?
*Note* If your child has too much difficulty responding to questions, you don’t want this to become frustrating! So feel free to simply model asking AND answering questions!
For example you could say:
“What is on the top of the tree? A star!”
“Where is the snowman? Over there on the lawn.”
Remember that we want FUN and FESTIVE, NOT FORCED. So it is important to keep all these interactions as natural and conversational as possible! Also make sure that you are only commenting when they are sharing your gaze and looking at the same decoration so as not to create confusion.