Sunday, September 15, 2013

PlPlaytime is a Time to Talk, Talk, Talk

Although we frequently recommend playing make-believe with your child because it nurtures vocabulary development and conversation skills, there is definitely a place in the playroom of every child for non-fantasy toys—manipulative toys in particular. The adjective “manipulative” is used to describe toys where the goal is to make something interesting happen by manipulating components. For example, a typical busy box has handles to pull, windows to open, switches to push, wheels o spin. Toddler versions of these include age-old favorites such as stacking rings, puzzles, jack-in-the-boxes, and shape-sorters.

These toys are wonderful because they promote problem solving as well as provide entertainment. Just keep in mind that conversations needn’t turn totally boring when moving parts become the focus. Make sure to go beyond unimaginative phrases like “how about that one.” Be creative. Describe the colors and movements. Talk about the characters that pop up. Make comparisons to other toys. Ask your baby which parts she likes best. Talk about who gave the toy to your child. And don’t forget to extol your baby’s virtues with more than just “Wow!” when she does a good job. How much longer can it take to add, “You’ve sure made Mickey Mouse pop right up! He pops out like Donald Duck did. Remember how Donald Duck jumped up when you turned the wheel? Let’s show Daddy when he comes home.” As we are always telling toddlers to do, “Use your words!”

Happy Signing (and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook)!


Linda Acredolo, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, the Baby Signs® Program
Professor Emeritus, UC Davis
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