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“Let’s go shopping” – a listening game for young children 

What you’ll need

Gather together every-day household items to go into a ‘shop’, a bag to put them in and perhaps some real or pretend money to make it more fun.

Place your children into groups of ‘shoppers’.

How to play

Put the items out in the ‘shop’. (The shop could be a kitchen table or a clean blanket on the floor.) To make it more exciting you could use real food such as strawberries or apples. 

Talk about what the items are as you put them out. Then tell your child/ren it’s time to go shopping.

Give them an instruction and let child/ren take turns to collect the items you ask for. 

Start off by giving your child/ren one item to look for at a time.

If they are finding this easy, you can gradually increase the number of things you ask for, e.g. “We need to buy a pen, a car and some bricks”. You can help by repeating the sentence a couple of times. 

Encourage your child to collect the items in the order that you asked for them.

This helps to develop their memory for words. Remember to congratulate them when they find the right one, e.g.  “Yes! here’s the pen, we needed a pen”. 

“Sort it out” - a game to help toddlers and young children learn and use new words

What you’ll need

Gather together different items from around your home– toys, clothes and food items. Place them into a bag or box. 

How to play 

Tell your child/ren that you’ve been having a tidy up, but you need help to sort the items out so they can be put away. 

Ask your child/ren to pull out an item and then ask, “is it something we eat, or something to play with?”.

Get them to put items into separate piles, ready for putting away.

Why not take the opportunity to chat about the items as you sort them: “yes, you’re right, gloves are clothes, and they are something we wear on our hands when it’s cold!”

Children benefit from repetition so it’s helpful if they get to hear the category name several times.

Activities to enjoy with primary-aged children at home

Hide and Seek - a listening game for children 

Hide some objects/written words/pictures around the house. Depending on how many children are at home, they can work together, or play individually.

Ask your child/ren to find one object/word/picture.

When found, talk together about what it is and what it’s for. For example, “That’s a spatula, we use that for mixing and scraping the bowl when we are baking”.

If there’s a few of you playing, you could take turns to each say something you can think of about the object before hunting for another one.

A picture tells a thousand words

Interesting or unusual pictures can really get children’s imagination going. TES has some images here which could be used.

Alternatively, use a family photo album, take some from a magazine or display some via your phone or laptop. 

Here are some ideas about how you might use images to encourage speaking and listening activities at home.

I spy

Look at the picture/photo/image and encourage your child/ren to talk about the people, places, landmarks and events they can identify from the picture.

If you are looking after more than one child at home, they can work together to do this.

You could even ask them to explain which are their favourites and why.

What happened next?

If you are using images which depict an event, tell your child you are going to use the picture to make up a story together.

You can start off by saying a sentence about the picture to start the story (using a traditional story beginning like, “One day…”), then help your child to think about what might happen next.

Take turns adding an idea each until you have a complete story – you could even write it down and then illustrate the story together afterwards.