We were recently sent the early talkers box set to review. You will no doubt have noticed from my blog and my Instagram account that I love helping my children learn through play. I love sensory play, getting them outdoors, reading with them, arts and crafts, you name it. Although I get a lot of inspiration from other blogs, Instagram, and Pinterest, it’s also nice to have books and activity cards in the home. That’s where this series of activity cards from I CAN the children’s communication charity comes in.
Early talkers is a set of three packs of activity cards to inspire parents and early years practitioners. There is a pack for babies (0-18 months), toddlers (18 months to 3 years) and children (3-5 years). You can purchase the packs separately or as a box set of all three. The box set is £19.99. Each pack has an introductory booklet and a set of 30 cards with suggestions of suitable activities for your child’s age to help them learn to communicate.
The first thing I noticed when I received my pack was how beautifully illustrated the cards are. I love the illustrations and colours and how all three packs co-ordinate. Once I had more time to look through the cards, I began to realise just how useful these packs are. Although some of the activities were not new to me (treasure baskets, messy play etc), many more were. What I love most is that for each activity there are different variations depending on your child’s age and abilities, so you can make it easier or harder.
In all three packs, the activity cards are grouped into 5 categories which are different for each age group. I’ve been using two of the three packs with my two children for the last couple of months. Read on to learn more about the packs and what we think of them.
Babbling babies is the first pack. It is for babies from 0-18 months. Obviously, babies develop a lot between birth and 18 months so for each card the activity is adjusted for 0-6 months, 6-12 months and 12-18 months. I have been trying these activities with my youngest who is 5 months.
The introductory booklet explains how important interaction is for babies during those early months where all the brain connections are still forming. It goes on to explain the 5 key areas that babies need to develop in order to learn to talk. They are playing and interacting, Learning to listen, Learning and understanding new words, Expressing myself and exploring and developing. These are the five types of activity cards in this pack.
An example of one of the activities we have done is making music. This is from the learning to listen section. We followed the 0-6 month activity which was to fill bottles with dried pasta, peas, rice or beans. Shake the bottle and let baby try too, Try slowly and quickly. Comment on the noises they make. The activity for 6-12 months is the same but with the addition of using sauce pans and wooden spoons as drums. The 12-18 month activity further builds on this by the suggestion of adding gestures and tones of voice and using more words to comment on the noise. There is also an additional bit at the bottom of the card to expand on this idea for all ages. For this activity, the suggestion is to have different bottles with different items that make different sounds.
Another example is building. This time this is from the playing and interacting section. Using bricks, blocks or stacking cups, build a small tower. Whilst building the tower either say “Up, up, up” or count. Knock the tower down saying “oh dear, crash” or similar and then repeat. Again there are suggestions for adapting the activity for older babies. The expansion for all ages on this one is to sing a song whilst you build the tower, with a suggested song shared on the card.
This is the only pack I have not been able to test, however, my eldest fell into the suggested age range of 18 months to 3 years not that long ago. I feel that this pack, like the other two, is a great resource for parents of toddlers.
The introductory booklet again explains why toddlers need to learn to communicate well and has suggestions of how to use these cards in the home and in an early years setting.
The activity cards are split into 4 key areas. These are Attention and listening, Understanding what is said, Building sentences and Talking socially.
Each key area has an introductory card that explains why this area of learning is important, how you can help them with this area and suggests everyday activities that are beneficial to develop this skill. The blue card on the right below is an example of an introductory section card.
The activity cards tell you what you need and how to play the activity. Some cards also suggest different ways to play so there are lots of ideas on these great cards.
Chatting with Children
This pack is aimed at children aged 3-5 years. My eldest is 3 and a half and we have been trying out this pack. The introductory booklet explains that over half of children starting school do not have the communication skills needed to learn and make friends. The pack then explains how we as parents or early years practitioner can support our children and help them develop these key communication skills.
The booklet then provides tips for parents on using the games at home and sample programmes for early years practitioners. The tips for parents are really useful such as following your child’s lead, adapting the activity to make it easier or harder and repetition.
The five key areas that the cards are divided into are: Listening and attention, Understanding what is said, Learning and using new words, Speaking in sentences and Talking socially. Each set of activities includes an introductory card explaining why these types of games are essential and how they help your child to develop.
One of my daughter’s favorite games from these cards is “Stop and go”. To play this game you need a selection of noisy instruments. When you say “Go” the child can play the instruments until you say “Stop”. After doing this a few times, it is the child’s turn to say stop and go. The cards also give options to make the game easier or harder. So for this game, to make it easier you would make a hand gesture along with the word stop and go. To make it harder, turn your back on your child or try speaking quietly.
Another favorite is “Sorting out” from the cards called learning and using new words. In this game, you need a collection of toys, everyday items or pictures which can be easily divided into two obvious groups. So in my example, above we have animals and food. To make it easier, you would ask the child to sort them into “food” and “not food”. To make it harder, you can further re-divide the same objects into different groups e.g. by colour or size.
These are just a handful of the many games that are included for you to use in these fabulous card packs. I really like them as the games are so simple to set up. They are fun so the child does not feel like they are “learning”. There is plenty of choice and the ability to tailor the activity to your child’s abilities is invaluable.
Disclosure: Thank you again to Ican for sending me these cards free of charge in return for a review. I was not asked to write a positive review. All thoughts, words and photos are my own.