Monday’s Ramblings: Word Games
Reading Room by Emily Donaghue inspired me into working more with Abby’s language skills. She’s already quite advanced (today alone two separate Moms in two completely different situations marveled at how well she talked for her age level). I’ve always attributed her verbal skills to the adults around her talking to her like an adult. We don’t baby her, and honestly never have, when it comes to language. We use words that we would use with other adults, explaining in simpler terms when needed. But Donaghue’s novel made me realize that there was so much more that I could be doing with Abs.
There were two games that really struck me as useful with building Abby’s vocabulary and language skills. The first one is a simple rhyming game, one that can be played while getting ready for naptime, walking to the park, or even eating lunch. In the book, Ma would start of a rhyming phrase, like “Our friend Ebeneezer lives in a freezer” and five year old Jack would echo back “Our friend Spoon sang a song to the moon”. They would go back and forth until one of them made a cheat rhyme, like “Our friend Dora went to the Store-a”, at which point they would stop, giggle, and continue with the real rhymes. I love the simplicity of this “game”. It makes a fun, casual game out of rhyming and makes it easy for any child that loosely grasps the concept to join in. Not only does it develop language skills, but it helps with on the spot thinking and creativity too.
The other game that I find quite useful from Donaghue’s novel is a game called “Echo”. In this game Ma would turn to a Television channel, typically something with advanced vocabulary (like a News channel or political debate), and would have Jack parrot, word for word, the first twenty seconds or so that he listened to. I mean, can you imagine how fast this game built Jack’s vocabulary? He was parroting things like poignant, labor law, and health-care reform. Sure, he might not understand everything completely, but most adults don’t even fully understand some of those words. This is something that really any child can play with the right show. I can’t imagine how quickly and sufficiently it could potentially develop vocabulary, understanding, and even memory.
I am definitely looking forward to trying both of these games with Abby as soon as I can hold her attention for it. I see her enjoying the rhyming game, but being too absorbed in the TV to parrot anything. Maybe we’ll start with a sports game – something interesting enough to keep her attention, but not too intriguing that it turns her completely catatonic. I swear that girl goes total Zombie when any cartoon trots across the screen.