Teaching the 5-W-H Questions: Part 3

By Christine Marchant

If you read my previous posts, you’d notice that I have a system to teaching the 5-W-H questions.

By the time the child has surpassed level two and is ready for level three, he is not impressed with the ‘preschool’ attempts.  The magnetic fishing and the Caribou games no longer hold his interest.  Using basic pictures will often bore him to death!  There is no right or wrong way to teach, but the best way is to match your system to the child’s learning style.  It is important to observe if the child is an active or passive learner.  The active learner loves games and action. The passive learner prefers work sheets, scrabble and card games etc.  I have watched many therapists teach the 5-W-H questions to children.  Most of them are for younger children, I have had a few older children that are a bigger challenge.  The little children are happy with ANY game you come up with, while the older ones are more tricky.  With the older children, I find just saying: “this is our target—this is what we are doing and when we are finished, then you can play your game” is the more effective.  We set up their favorite game, then we do “target” then your turn, “target” then your turn.  My rules are that we do two cycles of “target’ games, then we do one game “free style” game.  Free style is playing the game any way the child wants to.  It’s ok if the child rigs it for them to win EVERY TIME!   I don’t care!  Just get the child hooked.

Teaching before and after is often a challenge.  It’s vague and abstract thinking.  It’s been proven that we can envision the past easier than the future.  That’s why I teach “before” first.

1) Find books or photos that show a TON of details in each photo.  I use books, flash cards, and random photos saved on to my Ipad.

2) I bring out their favorite game, then the photos.

3) At this level, the child is already hooked into the program.  The first player looks at the photo, and describes what is in the photo, then says what he thinks might have happened just before this photo.

4) The other players can agree or disagree.  This opens an interesting conversation.

5) Follow the same pattern that I shared in the previous posts:

What do you suppose happened before the girl fell off her bike?

Who do you suppose she was with?

Why do you suppose she fall off the bike?

Where do you suppose she was?

When do you suppose this happened?

How did we come up with the “before” information?

6) When all players are satisfied with the answers, the player takes their turn.

7) By providing their favorite game, the child is usually motivated to do the “work”.

8) Sometimes, at this level, the child finds it difficult and tries to avoid the “work”.  If this happens, just sit quiet and say, first we do the “target” then you can play the game. The desire to play usually is enough.

I find it very rewarding to see the children go on this journey.  I love seeing the look of amazement and understanding in their eyes as they become more aware of their world.  I decided in high school that I wanted to work with children and I’ve enjoyed every year.  I have one more post on this topic, which involves teaching “after” and then I move on to teaching other aspects of language.

The Importance of Outdoor Play

By Simran Saroya

Outdoor is essential in a child’s life just as fruits and vegetables are. Natural elements incorporated into a child’s play is very important, it allows them to start understanding this world and how it works as well as build knowledge. Allowing the child to play outdoors will strengthen muscle strength and coordination, allow for deeper exploration and help them gain self-confidence.  

 Sometimes we think that a playground MUST be present for a child to have fun. In reality, a child can have fun in any environment with almost anything. From swinging on the swing and gaining a new perspective to digging in the dirt and analyzing the world around them. By adding additional equipment for your child to use outdoors you are adding to their learning through play but it is not necessarily needed. 

 Through this exciting process it was always nice to have someone accompany them. Having a buddy while discovering new things always make things more exciting. Being present and engaged with the child is a fun way to help your child learn new skills and information. An adult being present to answer their curious questions will allow the child to deeper understand the concept and build/ strengthen your relationship. There are six crucial benefits to keep in mind when your child wants to play outside. 

  1. Learning 
  1. Building Social Skills 
  1. Being Creative 
  1. Health 
  1. Exploring New Environments 

A child playing alongside peers or adults is co-learning and co-imagining which actually helps with building social skills and benefits their learning. Acorns may just look like acorns to us adults but to a child it could be food play or a treasure, you never know what their little minds will come up with. Roleplay is the most common way a child mimics the adults around them. This behavior is having them use their imaginative and creative side to come up with these scenarios. Using their imagination allows them to be creative and explore further and deeper into their play. Playing outside also has long term health benefits such as reduction of stress, regulation of the body and vitamin D consumption.  

 Now, you may be stuck with the question “How do I get my child to play outside?”. 

 In the world of technology today it is getting harder and harder to get their minds less engaged in screens and more engaged in the natural environments. Some ideas I can suggest include the following: to have a picnic, draw with chalk, turn on the sprinklers, go find some treasure or even ride bicycles together or with a friend. The chilly winter shouldn’t’ stop you either! In the winter the child can build snowmen, snow angels and paint the snow. Summer or winter, the child will find something to do outdoors regardless of the situation. Being prepared for the weather is the adults job, let the children do the rest. 

 Remember: Play does not have to be structured, let the child take the lead sometimes!

The Importance of Indoor Play

By: Simran Saroya

Sometimes we feel that it is easy to hand our children the iPad or phone to keep them occupied. Even on a snow day or a rainy day there are ways to make these situations positive interactions. Giving them a phone or tablet is easy but not the most interesting choice for your child. Indoor play can consist of more stimulating, fun and active play that will help your child’s brain develop.

When we think about indoor play, we talk about roleplaying, games and engagement opportunities. If you are baking cookies, having the child present and engaged is a form of play for them where they can use their senses and create something new. When thinking about play we should consider all five senses: look, listen, touch, smell and taste. Where can my child use these five senses with me?

Through play children are able to create healthy brain architecture which allows them to have better peer social interactions, use their imagination and creativity and engage with the world around them. Play is so important for children; it is the foundation to all the learning that is going to happen here on forward.  Play can also strengthen physical, emotional and cognitive strength within the child.

Now indoor play, how do you play inside on a rainy day or a day where the outdoors is not easily accessible? Here is a list of things you can do indoors with your child!

  1. Board games
  2. Scavenger hunt
  3. Make slime!
  4. Cook with your child (cookies, jello, rice krispies, or even prep for dinner)
  5. Read stories
  6. Visit an indoor play place (Telus Spark, Glenbow, swimming, Calgary public library)

Let your child take the lead and have them decide what they would like to do indoors with you or with a friend. This way the child feels a sense of independence in choosing an activity or game. Children create and preserve friendships through play therefore indoor and outdoor play are both essential in a child’s growth and development.

Understanding the benefits in your child’s play can be a bit confusing. Play fosters cognitive growth meaning that is essential for healthy brain development. Sometimes we believe that play must have a goal behind it, a structure to it. In reality, free play positively affects neurological connections by making those circuits in the brain stronger. Free play will allow your child to build communication skills, self-confidence and intelligence. Through play children become less anxious and more resilient to deal with real life situations. Once the adults in the child’s life understand how important it is to play, the child will benefit and the adults will benefit. Promoting play as quality time spent indoors will strengthen your relationship with your child and allow for meaning making and a world of connections to be brought to the table. It is amazing what their little minds can come up with!

Story Cubes: A Play Based Learning Opportunity

By: Stephanie Magnussen

At Connecting Dots, the therapists are skilled at creating play based learning activities based on the individual child’s needs.  When learning is play based, the child looks forward to sessions with the therapists and this excitement makes it easier for the child to be engaged in the activity.  Based on each individual’s contract, the therapists will work with the child a few times each month.  I work as an aide, and am therefore with the clients and families multiple times a week, enacting the therapists’ and family’s goals through creative and play based approaches.  I was looking for a game for one of my clients that promoted long sentences, complex ideas, and smooth speech when I found Story Cubes.  Story Cubes are affordable and fun and have been working really well with my clients!

Story Cubes are a set of nine, six-sided dice that have an image on each side.  Each player rolls three to four dice at a time and has to create a story based on the images.  When I use it with my clients, I have a sheet of paper next to us that has the important elements of a story: Plot, Setting, Characters, Conflict, Solution, and Theme.  Based on the developmental goals of the child, theme is optional to include as it can be abstract.  In the first roll, player one must create the setting and identify the main character.  The second roll introduces more characters, and expands on the plot.  The conflict is introduced between the second to fourth roll and the solution is achieved in the fourth to eighth roll.  Of course there can be as many rolls as one likes, but I find that kids can get distracted by too many details, and the stories make more sense when there are six to eight story turns total.  After ever two turns, I refer back to the piece of paper that has the list of important story details and the child recounts what has happened so far and identifies each of the major components of our story.  If I am trying to promote smooth, clear speech with my client, I keep a tally of all of the smooth sentences that are over eight words that my client has said.  I involve the client in this, so it isn’t anxiety provoking for him or her.  I’ll say things like, “Wow!  That was a really smooth sentence!  I think you should make a tally on the smooth sentence side,” or “Take a deep breath before you start your next sentence because it is going to be a long one!”  After a few sessions, I can see the progress of smooth versus bumpy sentences during story cubes when comparing the smooth vs. bumpy tallies.  For older children and when appropriate, after the game is finished, I ask what the theme of our story was.  It is always so interesting to see how creative kids can be and it makes for more speech opportunities to give the client the chance to describe the theme.

Story Cubes have been a great tool to use with my clients because it also allows them to be creative and silly.  It promotes organized thinking because although it is a free flowing game, certain components of the story have to be identified by certain rolls.  Also, the child can’t just create a nonsensical story.  I make sure to check in with him or her after ever two turns so that they have a clear understanding of what is happening in the story and what needs to happen to reach a resolution.  I make sure to remind each client before his or her turn to take a breath and think about what they are going to say and how each story cube will relate back to the story itself.  This has been a great game for kids that are having trouble expanding on ideas, creative writing, are exhibiting non fluent speech, or need help organizing their thoughts or with memory.  I bought mine at Wal-Mart, but there are lots of options on amazon.ca as well!

 

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