Poetic Perfection: Happy not Snappy
We all know that talking to our babies and children helps their language development and understanding of the world around them. It’s often suggested that using a sing song tone of voice helps to hold the attention of a young baby, and that actually singing to our children helps them to tune into the rhythm of language itself. Not to mention simply increasing their vocabulary and ability to communicate. Rhyming words, and poetry in particular, allows children to explore their language; it takes thought and concentration to listen to and interpret rhymes read aloud; and can help a child with creative thinking and self-expression.
And given that one in four of us will experience problems with our mental well-being at some point in our lives, being able to effectively and confidently express ourselves, and talk to and listen to one another is so so important.
So when I decided to write my book, She’s Not Good for a Girl, She’s Just Good! I knew that I just had to write it as a rhyming story! And when I sit down and write, the rhyming part can be frustrating (will a child understand; does it change the story; does it really rhyme properly?!) which can lead to a great sense of achievement and happiness when I eventually make it work. Not to mention some fun along the way if I create nonsense words!
Here’s a quick and simple game to play with your children, which will increase their vocabulary, make them giggle, and get them moving!
You’ll need: a piece of paper, a pen, scissors and a piece of chalk.
- Before you start playing with the child/ren, cut a piece of paper into 10 pieces, write down 10 simple age appropriate words on one side, fold in half and number them 1 to 10 on the outside.*
- Using chalk, mark up a hopscotch board marked 1 to 10 (this is best done outside of course, but we sometimes do it in the kitchen where we have slate tiles and the chalk just washes away).
- The children close their eyes and pick a piece of paper, and ‘hopscotch’ their way to the corresponding number. If they land on a hop they have to stay hopping while you tell them the corresponding word, and ask them for 3 rhyming words. Hopping all the time! If you’re ‘scotching’ well phew! You can stand still while you think of your words!
- If your children are a bit older, or need a challenge, you can make it harder by only accepting proper words, and rejecting ‘alien’ or made-up words. Or by sending them back to the beginning if they stop hopping before they reach their 3 words! But really it’s about listening to the sounds and thinking of the rhyming words while playing a game they already know and love.
* Examples of reception year high frequency words: and, she, dad, big, dog, play, like. Examples of key stage 1 words: old, could, house, very, time