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Language Play with Basic Concepts!

Updated: Aug 4, 2022

Now your toddler or preschooler has an expressive vocabulary of over 50 words and is starting to make two word combinations, so... what's the next step to helping develop their language skills? Basic concepts!


Wait, what are basic concepts?


Great question! Basic Concepts are fundamental building blocks for taking language beyond labeling things and actions. A good understanding of these concepts is

important for helping your toddler or preschooler describe how they interact with their world.

toddler and preschooler language development play

Once you child is using a few hundred different words and comfortably putting together sentences with 3 or more words, she is might be ready to learn some basic concepts. Here's a brief overview of the different categories, as well as some ways to address them through language development play.


Spatial - prepositions!


Basic spatial concepts, prepositions, are fun and functional words that are likely already a part of your every day routine. Put the shoes ON, take the shoes OFF. Put the blocks IN the basket. Let's go OUTside!


Take the words outside to practice on the play ground. Climb ON the bench, jump OFF. Climb UP the stairs, go DOWN the slide! Model the phrases until your kiddo is ready to start requesting on their own. You can let them tell you what to do!


Negation - this, NOT that!

toddler and preschooler language development play

Somewhere around the ages of 2-3, many kids develop a sense of humor around purposeful mislabeling - use this to get them laughing while helping them learn the concept of negation. Make an absurd statement and, when they look surprised or laugh at you, correct yourself. I'm NOT a puppy! That is NOT your belly button! Let them make their own absurd statements, or correct yours when they're ready.



Qualitative - adjectives!


This covers so many kinds of words, but I like focusing on the adjectives that come in easy to contrast opposite pairs: big/small, fast/slow, happy/sad, etc. These can be a lot of fun to act out, getting as silly and over the top as possible. Stretch out as high as you can do on tip toes for TALL, then scrunch down on your heels for SHORT.

toddler and preschooler language development play

Quantitive -more!


Many kids learn early on how to request more, but it can be trickier to understand how to compare quantities. Engage in some food-based pretend play with at least one other stuffy and doll to round out the tea party. What ever you choose to serve (I like legos where my toddler prefers using the farm animals) give one person an exaggerated amount. Model responses for your toddler - he has MORE, I have LESS! I want to eat ALL! We have NO food left!


So there you have it, an overview of the basic concepts. Come join me this week as I go over each category in more detail, along with my favorite books, songs and games!


Remember to have FUN!


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