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Take Home Idea

​​​Try the tips below to help children develop expressive language skills.

Play “I Spy…”Bird image

I Spy is a great, fun way to use descriptive language. I Spy is a great way to introduce the idea of using descriptors instead of the labels for objects because your child knows you will only talk about items within view.​

LabelI Spy Descriptor
​​Bird"I Spy something...that flies in sky and has feathers."
Jacket"I Spy something...we wear outside to keep warm."

Use language at your child’s level and add “clues” as needed to help your child be successful at the game. Take lots of turns with other friends and family members so your child has many opportunities to hear models of descriptive language and has the chance to p​​ractice descriptive language.

Mystery or Surprise Box

This game is similar to “I Spy” but removes the visual cues. Hide objects in a box or bag and describe the item before it is removed from the box. For example, “I see something you find in the bathroom. You use it to clean your teeth.” To make this task less challenging, show your child the items as they are placed in the box. That way your child has been familiarized with the items you will be describing.

Barrier Board Games

When playing barrier board games, you will need to have a physical barrier to separate your materials from your child’s materials. You can use a large book or box for example. Barrier board games have a strict “No Peeking” policy. Materials might include toys, coloring book pages, or pictures. You and your child should have the same materials on each side of the barrier.


Your materials

Your child's materials

Describe an item from your side of the barrier: “I have a toy we play with outside and it bounces. Can you find one?” Pick up your items to see if your child was able to find the match.​

To make this task more challenging, use more difficult language. Ask your child to follow a direction, such as, “Put the ball in the boat.” Then, remove the barrier to compare. Celebrate when you have a match! Remember to take turns so your child has opportunities to use and develop expressive language skills.