This is the first step that I use with toddlers or young children who are not yet responding to others or not sending many messages.

Our goal here is to get more interaction. Introducing back and forth communication is vital. Paying attention to faces and sending messages by reaching, sound making or eye contact need to be developed.

Before first words appear, toddlers need to be sending messages to you.

Messages can be ;

  • facial expressions
  • pointing at things
  • tapping you on the hand to get your attention
  • calling out
  • nodding or shaking head
  • and much more!

Action songs and social games play an important role in language development.  For late talkers, they help develop imitation skills and first words.  For children with ASD, they are an integral part of therapy.

Resources

The ‘Before First Words’ booklet outlines the skills to work on. Examples of first games to play with toddlers, gesture development and action songs are included. A Boardmaker song sheet is included for each nursery rhyme.

 

These infographics are for parents who are helping toddlers to send more messages (without words).

 

Getting your toddler to focus on you (not a toy) makes it easier for him to interact with you and communicate.

 

Action Songs / Nursery Rhymes

Nursery rhymes are best learnt when they are practiced frequently and made fun. As your baby gets used to the song, try to do LESS so that your baby can do MORE. This shows your baby is learning and is laying all the basics for language development and literacy.

  • Nursery rhymes provide a foundation for literacy.
  • Children who know their nursery rhymes tend to have strong language skills.
  • Nursery rhymes help babies to develop listening skills and tune into rhyme and voice inflections.
  • They help babies to imitate hand gestures and sounds.

Baby Karaoke– this App has lots of nursery rhymes with the words/actions to remind you!

– Row Row Row your Boat

– Grand old Duke of York

–  Open Shut them

– Wind the Bobbin Up

– Humpty Dumpty

– Round & Round the Garden

– This Little Piggy

Hints to help your toddler learn some actions

1.  This Little Piggy

A great rhyme to do from the start with a newborn.  You can do it on the hands or feet.  Your baby will begin to anticipate the final tickle and this shows Learning!  As your baby gets older, she will like to do this action rhyme on other children (or dolls) and again this is more Learning!!  We also use a great puppet mitt in the clinic which is great fun.

2.  Twinkle Little Star

This old favourite is an early one to teach babies.  There are really only 3 actions to learn!

1.  Start with just hands in front of your face and wiggle the fingers.  This is a good way to get baby looking at you.  Help baby to do this action and move his arms if needed.

2.  Lift babies hands above head for ‘Up above the world so high’.

3.  Accept any ‘diamond’ shape your baby makes!!

3.  Row Your Boat

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Sit down opposite toddler and hold hands.  Move back and forth pulling the child’s arms as you go.

1.  Stop every now and again to encourage your toddler to wiggle/hop to show you to keep going!  If your child can, try a word here too, like ‘more’ or ‘row row’.

2.  Pause at the end and then throw your hands up and scream (if you see a crocodile………don;t forget to……….ah!)  See if your child learns to do an ‘ah!’ before you do!

4.  Grand Old Duke

Another one with lots of movement.  Seat your toddler on your lap facing you and bump along to the song.

1.  Stop at the ‘when they were……… up’ and see if your baby goes up or says ‘up’

2.  Same with ‘when they were……..down’!

5.  Head Shoulders Knees & Toes

This is a great one to do with a few kids.  Everyone can copy each other!

You can help your child by lifting hands onto each body part when it’s time.  As your child gets used to it, give less help.

 

Videos to Watch