Whether you are warming a bottle, filling a cup, or throwing something together for lunch or dinner, the kitchen provides you and your child with many opportunities for reinforcing language skills and exploring sounds. Here are a few ideas for ways you can use YOUR kitchen at home:
New Listeners: While your little one isn’t ready to sort items into categories, they are ready to build their vocabulary and explore (by touching, mouthing, throwing) what the kitchen has to offer. Spend a few days introducing them to different types of fruit: “Let’s find some fruit to play with. Look! I found an apple. Apple.” Hand or show the whole apple to your little one and describe it as they explore. “This apple is red. You have a red apple. The skin is smooth. Do you feel it? (rub the apple on their hands or cheeks). It’s smooth. Yummy apple!”
Experienced Listeners: Take out two bowls or containers so that your child can begin to sort food or objects based on one attribute (e.g., shape, color, texture). For example, for those who are new to sorting, you might encourage them to put apples in one bowl and bananas in another bowl. Talk about how they are different. For those who are able, you might begin to sort fruits and vegetables.
New Listeners: These little ones are beginning to understand that events have a start and finish. While making their bottle or fixing their baby food, bring attention to the start and stop of your activity: “Time to pour it in. Ready…set…go! Pour, pour, pour. All done!”
Experienced Listeners: Pick out a few simple recipes that your little one can help you make (e.g., toast with jelly, grilled cheese, pancakes, etc.). Take a short time to talk about what you are about to do. Narrow it down to about three steps (e.g., “First we put the bread in the toaster, then we will spread the jelly, and last we will eat it!”) and then encourage your child to tell you the steps while you are enjoying the finished product. Draw simple pictures to help reinforce the sequence of the steps.
DETECTING AND DISCRIMINATING SOUNDS:
New Listeners: If your little one is safely secured in an infant seat or high chair while you are cooking, make loud noises on purpose (spoons, tapping pots, whisks in empty bowls) and watch your child’s response. When they detect the sound, be sure to show them the source of the noise and if they are able to play with it safely, pass it on to them!
Experienced Listeners: Allow your child to explore the difference between sounds made by a wooden spoon verses a metal spoon. When they aren’t looking, present one of the sounds and encourage them to point out which spoon was used to make it. If they pick out the correct object, it indicates that they
are able to discriminate between sounds. Repeat this with other utensils or even food containers found in the kitchen.
Take Home Tip!
Looking for a fun and safe way for your child to cook with you in the kitchen? Check out this list of platforms and stepladders designed to help your child get up to counter height and help you out!