Playing with Language

Language play is an important component of oral language development in young children. When children play with language through games, songs, poems, and rhymes, they learn to listen to the sounds of our language, begin to make distinctions between the sounds, and use them to create language of their own that is expressive and joyful.

The play-based learning environment affords children many opportunities to play with language in ways that are tailored to children’s specific needs and provides teachers with more opportunities for effective feedback.

So, where and when does language play happen in the play-based learning environment? Anywhere and everywhere. All the time and anytime a child is ready to play with language. The teacher seizes every opportunity to sing songs, make rhymes, and encourage language play. Children play “I Spy something that starts with /m/ or rhymes with “bug”. They play barrier games like “Mystery Box” and “Guess Who?” They listen to music, make up silly songs about everyday routines and play with nursery rhymes like “Twinkle Twinkle little cat”. They make up words for imagined things and things they create like a “Rocket Blaster Zaster”. They make collaborative books like “Mmmm…bananas” or compose poems that use alliteration such as ” I Like Lemons and Lollipops” or ” Sammy Snake Says”. They make up puppet shows where puppets play games with their audience called “Do you think I like roses or noses?”

This student-created game called ” Do you think I like?” requires children to choose between two words, one of which begins with the same sound as the puppet.

They do all these things because they enjoy them and because these activities allow them to use their own ideas and imaginations to create and express themselves orally. Through hearing their own voices play with language, they develop an appreciation of language and all that it can be used for.  They begin to see themselves as creators of language, inventors of words, as poets and writers.

They begin to see language for what it is. A way to show the world who you truly are.















Cathy Baker View All →

Dedicated teacher for the past 15 years. Lifelong learner. Newbie blogger. Follow me on Twitter @Baker1973Cathy

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