Teaching words on the go

There’s all sorts of great activities out there to help your child learn and remember new words, but often they involve worksheets and sitting down at a table. And this means that we miss out on those opportunities to target vocabulary when we’re out and about! One of my favourite ways to support vocabulary is to pick up on useful words right when they happen – in the middle of a conversation. With a few key strategies you can make the most of those everyday conversations to help your child learn, remember and practice new words. Here’s how:

Teaching words ON THE GO!

I picked a simple acronym to help us remember this strategies:

Break it down: Clap out the syllables in the word. And listen out for any smaller words that might be ‘hiding’ inside that new bigger word.

Repeat, repeat, repeat: Children really benefit from repeated models of a new words, especially if you can put it into a variety of sentences. This helps them hear the sounds in the word (phonetics) and listen out for how it fits within sentences (syntax).

Observation homework: Set yourselves the challenge to listen out for this word in books, or on walks. This helps you both focus on it and find more opportunities to practice.

Speaking of books… Here’s some suggestions for sharing books in a way that supports vocabulary development.

Using sandcastles to build attention

When we’re helping children learn to listen and pay attention to us, it’s useful to start with something that they find really exciting and worth looking at. So, I’m always on the lookout for creative ideas that capture a child’s attention.

This sandcastle activity helps children learn to watch and listen to you, as well as learn some key phrases. As your child learns the sequence of the activity you can extend the length of the routine to build their attention.


If you’re off to the beach this summer, you might like to try out this activity. You can even extend it by taking turns to smash each sandcastle at the end of the activity. I hope you have fun together!

This activity inspired by the activities involved in Gina Davies’ attention programme. You can find out more about the first steps of this programme on my post Using a bucket to build early attention and listening skills.

5 Gift Ideas for Under 5s

Baskets of toys

Whether it’s Christmas, a birthday or a simple ‘just because’, it’s fun to keep an eye out for gifts for our young ones. Here’s a few gift ideas to spark their imagination.

Grimm’s Rainbow

Grimm's Rainbow toy

I love the flexibility of these rainbow pieces. There’s a beautiful balance and lightness to each one that encourages a huge variety of play. Great for construction and experimentation, the pieces are also fun to use in creating small worlds, be it a doll’s house or zoo. This rainbow was found at Myriad Toys.

A Superhero Cape

Boy wearing superhero cape

If I could have a super power I’d choose to fly. Whilst Edna Mode from the Incredibles may famously warn against capes for real superheros, they are still great fun for imaginative play. The elements, ‘earth, air, fire, water’ often come up in superhero conversations with children, offering a good excuse to discuss nature and science. I found this cape at Not On The High Street, but there’s always the DIY option!

A Mud Kitchen

Mud kitchen

Designed and built here on the Isle of Wight, these little kitchens are perfect for making mud pies or serving up a mighty mud roast dinner. If we have a white Christmas, they’d be a great place to make snow cones! Available to order from the Glorious Muddy Kitchen Company.

A Favourite Book Character

Tigger soft toy

Anyone who knows me will know I love to gift books at Christmas, even more so with a soft toy character. It’s fun to put together little story sacks with props from each story, whether it’s The Tiger Who Came to Tea or Paddington Bear. There are a variety of companies, such as StorySight that put together ready-made story sacks, though you’ll likely find many of your favourite story props at home already. Cup of tea anyone?

Little Bus Mini Lotto

Little Bus Mini Lotto cards

This simple lotto set has been in my therapy bag quite a lot over the last month. Not only practical and portable, it also has cutest animal passenger pics, offering lots of opportunity for conversation. Orchard Toys have a huge variety of fun board games that children enjoy and are worth checking out if you’re on the hunt for a board game to entertain the younger members of the family.

So, there you have it: a few gift suggestions to add to the list. I’m hoping to make many of my gifts this year, though I’ve no doubt I’ll find myself in the bookshop or toyshop soon enough. However you choose to celebrate, I hope you enjoy all the festivities of the season.

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