Did you know that floor play with blocks, cars and dolls improves language and attention skills in young children? What better way to build critical brain skills that will help your child learn to play with others as well as improve listening and speaking ability.
Car “talk” –Ages one through three years – Most toddlers, boys and girls, love to move cars along imaginary streets. You can draw a pretend city with chalk outside on the sidewalk for this game, or design a pretend city with roads outlined with string for inside. Ask your tot to choose a few cars and trucks from the toy box and tape a piece of paper with a different alphabet letter to the top of each car. (If there is a speech sound your child has trouble making like an ‘s’or a ‘k’ it is fine to include that as one of the letters). As you move the cars along the make-believe streets use the letters to guide the sounds the cars and trucks make – "ka ka ka ka", for the car with a letter ‘K’ on top, "er er er" as the siren of a fire-engine with an ‘R’ on top. Your child can of course choose a sound he likes to make for one of the cars as well.
Keep the letters on the top of each car when you put them away so that another day you can see if your child can remember which car made what sound. This game introduces your tot to letters, helps build good speech, and lets the two of you enjoy playing together.
Building Brains through Blocks --Ages one and one-half to four years – Set up two sets of large building blocks on the floor. Sit next to one set of blocks and start to build something – perhaps you could pretend you are building a large city office building, a street with a few houses, or your own apartment building, Ask your child to help you decide:
· how tall to make the building – concept of size
· how many rooms the building should have –concept of number
· where to put the doors and windows—concept of location
· how to make a roof – creative solutions to a problem( a newspaper might suffice for a roof or an old magazine)
After one building is constructed with the first set of blocks ask your child to build something herself, perhaps a store, church, or gas station nearby. Decide together:
· what the new building will be – concept of types of buildings
· where it will be located in your new town or city –concept of location
· how it will look – will it be similar to the house or different - concept of same and different from the first house
As your child builds with you try to describe the actions your child is taking. For example, “Look you made a room on top of the first room, is that a bedroom?” or “My you are making this building so tall!” Don’t feel you have to show your child how to make buildings, enjoy your child’s creativity and go with her ideas. Just use your words to help the child hear the language that describes his actions.
The research team of Dr. Dimitri Christaki and his colleagues in the department of pediatrics and health services at University of Washington in Seattle published some interesting research in the journal Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine in 2007 showing the power of block play. Among a group of parents who agreed to keep a diary of play with their children, the children whose parents reported playing with building blocks had better language and attention skills than those who did not.SMART TOYS! - BUILD BRAINS