Caught in the Castle and Taught in the Tower- Past Tense Irregular Verbs

Often times we focus vocabulary development on nouns (names of things) with questions like, ‘What’s that? What’s that called? What else can we call this? What’s he walking on?’ etc.

That’s the easy stuff.

Little learners need so many more words. They need words that describe and give information, and they also need verbs to talk about action and doing.

A recent trip to France inspired this post about irregular past tense verbs which can be linked of course to their present and future tenses too.

If you don’t have an ancient castle handy you can use my examples on a visit to the shopping mall, museum, or town hall. The location is up to your imagination. Generalize the verbs to your chosen location.

Take photos along your journey. Give your child the camera/Phone so they can take photos from their perspective too. I’ve read that those who pause to take a photo take in more of a scene than those who just plough through it. It’s like mindfulness I suppose. Look for beautiful things. Look for weird things. Look for ugly things. Look for things out of place. Look for detail, pattern, and colour. Photograph them.

In the castle we imagined what it was like when it was inhabited. We wondered aloud who slept in the rooms, how they managed to build such a magnificent structure without the technology we have today, what it felt like in the damp, dark dungeons, where they had wooden floors and doors, and why anyone in their right mind would try to invade such a sturdy fortress with their primitive weapons.

We took our time to feel the walls, look through windows, count the steps, and peer at the views from all angles. We stood still in the damp air and watched the mist clouds roll up and down the hillsides. We tried to see shapes in the clouds above the courtyard.

On return we talked about the castles and this is where the past tense comes in to this story. Think about it. It’s real.

Let’s focus on past tense irregular which always seems fake to ‘teach’ in therapy. It’s often drilled with 3 columns on a worksheet, isn’t it? Yesterday I … Today I … Tomorrow I … Boring!

We can talk in past tense about something we did on the same day. Look through and talk about the photos over a snack and drink.

We drove to the castle.

We went up the stone steps.

Three things I sawheardfelt

You took a photo of…

In the old days the prince and princess sleptwokeatehadwore

The enemies snuckcreptshotthrewfellrodethoughtcaught

Insert your location of choice and talk about it on your commute home or when pouring over the photos. Have fun!

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Day, Night, Wait Time, and Executive Function

#listeningandspokenlanguage #speechtherapy #auditoryverbaltherapy

Listening and Spoken Language Specialist (Auditory-Verbal Therapist & Mentor)


This little learner’s goal was to sort activities onto daytime and nighttime posters. It became a collage craft with glue, paint, and cotton wool. We chatted about what we see in the night and day skies and discussed positioning of the pictures, as well as what we saw on the pictures.

When googling ideas for day and night theme work, I came across an article by Ling, Wong, and Diamond which explained a day and night task that they performed with preschoolers. Every time the researcher said ‘day’ the child had to say ‘night’, and vice versa. They investigated whether cuing the learner to listen and think or saying a random sentence before the learner gave their answer helped the learner give the correct answer. Their findings were interesting and I’d like to try this task myself with children aged 4 or 5. I learned that little learners need wait…

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Tiny tots and long-haul travel

Is it possible to keep my baby/toddler/preschooler entertained on long haul flights?

Can the words ‘travel light’ and ‘toddler’ be used in the same sentence?

The answer to both questions is yes!

Besides being a mother, I’m a teacher of the deaf, Listening and Spoken Language Specialist therapist, and traveler.

My girl has been traveling with me since she was a baby. She’s been from Australia to Austria, from Los Angeles to London, and from Switzerland to Sweden. She’s flown so often she’s achieved Silver frequent flyer status. Not bad for a 16-year old.

I’m sure you know kids who’ve flown further and more often and that’s awesome! I’m envious of parents who earn more than I do and can show their kids more of the world. I believe our kids learn more by exploring the world than they do in school some days.

I’m a single mum with an executive mortgage, surviving on a measly teacher’s salary. My daughter and I travel as often as possible and I plan hard to find fun, affordable adventures. I take the internet to dig up free stuff in every city and quirky accommodation. We walk or take public transport and depending upon where we venture to, we backpack.

In the past few weeks before and during my current trip I’ve had several parents ask me the questions above. They’ve had bags and bags of stuff packed for their little ones and told me they still have to deal with tired toddler tantrums and inconsolable infants mid-flight. The parents end up exhausted and embarrassed when their kids disturb fellow passengers. We’ve all been on a flight with that kid, right? It’s maddening and even noise-cancelling headphones can’t block out a baby’s piercing screams.

My Top 5 Tips for Travel with Tony Tots

1 Mind that altitude

If your little one has been ill or had a blocked nose leading up to the flight, ask your family doctor to check their ears for fluid behind the eardrum. Dry middle ears reduce pressure problems on the plane. Wet or clogged middle ears can lead to burst ears drums or temporary hearing loss and excruciating pain. If your little one is going to have problems equalizing their ear pressure it will be particularly bad on the descents or changes of altitude. They can’t pop their ears easily. They need to be chewing or swallowing food or drink to help their Eustachian tubes open. A few times I had to resort to a dose of Demazin to open up my daughter’s sinuses. It worked well enough and made her drowsy too. I tried Phenergen once but that wound her up. It was awful.

2 Pack cheap thrills

We’ve all heard that little learners have more fun with the wrapping than the toy and we know it’s often true. Apart from the one (or two) absolute favorite play thing/s or comforters in the whole world of your tiny tot, put the rest of the toys in the suitcase. Don’t bring too many toys in case you find gorgeous toys for souvenirs. Pack cheap entertainment for flights like paper straws, a box of bandaids/sticky tape, an old magazine, a pot of playdoh, a ball of string/wool/ribbon, a plain pages scrapbook, stamps and something colorful to draw with, and at least 5 storybooks. Can you use your imagination to find fun things to do with the craft stuff? Make sure you know some finger rhymes to sing too, like round and round the garden and twinkle twinkle. Fellow passengers would much rather hear those sung quietly than a screaming child. We know we have to read aloud to our child from the day they’re born so do it. You can read your novel or newspaper to a prelinguistic child just make your voice sound interesting and they’ll be wrapped. I spent almost 3 hours reading Hairy Maclarey stories to my daughter on one flight. She was about 12-months old. She was as quiet as a mouse the whole flight! She always had this thing where she’d stay awake for most of the flight then fall asleep right before we landed. Maybe the flights were too much fun with my undivided attention!

3 Add and then subtract

My routine is to start putting everything aside that I think I’ll need a week before the flight. I have a list of course. A couple of days before the flight I remove 1/4 to 1/3 of it so my suitcase looks a bit empty and generally weighs about 14kg. You need room for shopping! I always pack some laundry detergent and I wash about every 3rd day. Clothes dry overnight if you wash in the late afternoon, squeeze the water out then wrap them in a towel and press more water out with your feet. I find separates in a 2-3 color scheme work best – 2 t-shirts, 2 work shirts/long sleeve shirts, 3 bottom halves, pjs, tracksuit, workout gear, swimsuit, hat, underwear, puffer jacket, dressy jacket, 2 or 3 pr shoes, 2 big scarves, flip flops (jandals/thongs). On the plane I have a short and long sleeved t-shirt, hoody sweater, scarf, spare shirt and underwear, warm/pressure socks, jeans for airports and stretchy pants for the flight. These are all in dark colors in case something gets spilled on them. I change into my comfy pants before the plane takes off. My favorite at the moment are Adidas slim fit track pants. They’re black and they look cool enough to wear in an airport between flights. Make sure you wear comfortable slip-on shoes in case you have to remove them at the airport. Little ones don’t need multiple changes of clothes in the suitcase because you can wash them easily. Dress them in layers of darker or colorful clothes too so spills don’t show. Nappies/diapers are sometimes hard to find so bring plenty of your own. I saw one Mum make a tent above her toddler’s seat from a dark sarong and a few pegs. She pegged it from the back of the child’s seat to the back of the seat in front. It was a fun place to play and cozy place to sleep.

4 It’s (not) all about me

Give kids an inch and they’ll give you a mile. Plan kid-centered activities every day of your trip. Focus on your child and really listen to them. Follow their lead. These kid-friendly don’t have to be expensive. Let them crawl, jump, skip, or run about in a park/garden. Play ring-a-roses and all fall down. Find a playground. Rent a bicycle with a child’s seat and go for a ride. Sail a leaf boat down a stream. Play hide and seek. Make an indoor tent in your hotel room. Count the stairs as you walk up or down them. Make a bubble bath. Draw in the sand or dirt with a stick. Collect leaves, stones, or shells and make a house for a fairy or elf. Find a children’s museum. Make a treasure hunt and have them find certain shapes, letters, colors, or road signs, etc as you walk around. Find some new foods to try in a local supermarket and have a hotel picnic. Above all give tiny tots downtime in your accommodation every morning and evening. This is when they can play dress-ups or dolls or cars. They can watch kids’ TV even if it’s in another language. They can listen to a couple of stories. This helps with routines. This is when you all can have a rest from the hustle and bustle of travel.

5 Beat the jet lag

Do whatever you can to sleep on flights. My daughter and I take a homeopathic product called No Jet Lag. It takes the edge off the jet lag. We’re still tired but we can function and we quickly get into the local time zone. When you arrive at your destination if it’s daytime get outside. The natural light helps your body understand that it’s time to be awake. If you absolutely have to take a nap put your alarm on and force yourself to wake up after 2 hours. We try to push through the first couple of days and manage the fatigue by going to bed early. Drink loads of water or half water-half juice in the plane and after you land. Dehydration makes jet lag worse. Same goes for the kids. Get those liquids into them! Flying kills the good bugs in our guts so munch on yogurt to repopulate the guy with the good guy bugs.

This blog is huge but writing it helped ease my boredom on a long flight.

Let me know if you’re stuck for ideas for traveling with kids or have other brilliants tips.

Safe travels!

Open-ended playtime

Open-ended play allows children the freedom to explore toys and objects with their own agenda. They are at the mercy of their own imaginations as they discover different ways to use the same objects. It’s not about counting or colors. It’s about rich language and creativity.

There are no rules about types of toys that are best suited to open-ended play. Anything goes: dolls, cars, blocks, boxes, shells and other finds from nature, even bits of cardboard and paper with glue and scissors.

Open-ended play is usually best when adults are not involved, but children with no siblings and children with language difficulties may benefit from adult company as long as the adult follows the child’s lead and gives themselves up completely to the flow of the game. There will be opportunities to support vocabulary and language development naturally through conversation. Avoid ‘testing’ questions.

Open-ended play is spontaneous and messy. Sometimes the games can continue for days and move from room to room. It’s important to stop worrying about the toys everywhere and take delight in your child’s imagination and communication skills.

Children continue to make up their own games through middle school if they have the freedom to do so. They might use craft materials more than toys to create dioramas, mouse mazes, racing tracks, and doll furniture. They might use stop motion Apps to create movies in which their toys or plasticine creatures talk with each other. They might make up playground games at lunch break or imagine they’re on a boat or sinking ship while playing in the pool. They might be kangaroos or frogs in the trampoline. The possibilities are endless!

Let your child be wild and free in their play. There’s plenty of time to get serious about learning when they’re older. 🤗

#listeningandspokenlanguage #speechtherapy #speechpathology

Concepts – up, down, all around

Do you need another excuse to take your kids outside? What about if it’s the best place to teach your preschoolers maths concepts?

Colour is the obvious concept to start with. Look around and talk about light and dark, shades of color, more complex words such as aqua and teal, and how the grass, sea, and sky change color with the changes in sunlight or when a storm comes through.

Concepts of size are all around in nature. Be sure to extend vocabulary using synonyms for the words your child already knows. Look at the trees and the mountains, for example. They’re not just big, they’re tall, giant, enormous, huge, large, or maybe even ginormous!

What can you feel and touch? Warm sun, chilly breeze, cool, smooth stones, rough, scratchy bark, spiky leaves, or soft moss.

Can you see shapes in the clouds?

How many mussels are on one post?

Are the clouds moving fast or slow? What else is moving? Describe how it moves.

Talk about the patterns you can see. Spots, stripes, zigzags, polka dots, etc.

Make comparisons between objects. Which blade of grass is longer. Look at the trees. Point to tall, then taller, and tallest. Find one shell or stone and then find one matching in size. Seriate some stones or shells or sticks, lining them up from smallest to biggest.

Find shapes around you. Circular stones. Spiral shells. Sea stars.

Lessons from far-away places

Some of us live to travel and feel strongly about sharing our love of far-away places with our children.

When I look at the price of trinkets and shiny things for my home, I judge their value by how many cups of coffee or overseas vacations I could purchase for the same amount. Would I rather have a new handbag or a day of skiing? Would I rather refurbish my bathroom or spend 2 weeks in Europe?

My daughter was a Traveller even before she was born thanks to a job that had me flying intercity in Queensland, and half the family living overseas. She travelled long distances in a baby backpack on my hikes, and in cars, trains, and planes. I think she’s learned so much more on her travels than she could learn some days in school.

The key to traveling with children is just that – traveling, rather than ‘touristing’. Take your time. Savor each city. Stay at least 3 nights in each place. Eat dinner in your room. Make time to rest. Find a playground everyday. Bring a few favorite toys and books. Bring some chalk and a scrapbook and crayons. Pack a plastic cutlery, cup, and plate for each person. Pack some laundry detergent. If you’re going to do a lot of shopping, pack light and wash often. Three of everything is probably enough, apart from a week’s worth of underwear. Pack clothes that mix and match and don’t show dirt.

Some ideas to help you plan…

Where?

Involve the little learner in planning the trip. Look on Google Earth and holiday images. Discuss:

• geography (shape of land, size of lakes, etc.)

• climate (rainfall, season, humidity)

• tourist attractions for both adults and little learners (theme parks, galleries, famous structures/buildings/statues, incredible landscapes, sporting events)

• kid-friendly attractions (playgrounds, beaches, parks, forests, swimming pools)

• Are you camping, glamping, staying in a holiday house/motel/apartment/hotel?

Who?

• Are you visiting someone? Show your little learner photos of them and tell how you know them

• Which famous people lives in the city?

• Learn a little about the culture, traditions, National dress, common foods

• learn a few keys phrases in the other language

What?

• What do different hotels cost?

• What does each hotel offer? Self-catering Apartments, or at least those with a fridge and kettle are preferable when traveling with a little learner

• Make a packing list including a few toys selected by the children. Draw pictures if they are too young to read. Straws, bandaids, string, and stickers are cheap, fun travel games.

• Give each little learner a small backpack to carry

• Plan What you will do if you get separated or lost. Have little learners memorize their hotel room number. Perhaps write it in their arm, along with your phone number, or make a wristband for each new place. Make sure your little learner doesn’t get into the lift or train too far in front of you.

How?

• What Transport will you use?

• How do you pack light?

• How are you prepared? Pack Bandaids, antiseptic cream, sunscreen, antihistamines, Ibuprofen, etc. Sometimes these things are difficult to find in foreign countries. Will your child suffer sore ears on aeroplane descents or when you drive up and down high mountains? Bring chewy sweets or snacks to help pop their ears.

• Other handy things to pack are a headlamp/torch and sarong/pashmina (can be used for a curtain, toilet screen, picnic blanket, towel, dress ups)

When?

• Which season?

• What time Train/plane etc.? Carrying sleeping children on and off public transport is very difficult.

• Are there Public holidays in the city you are visiting?

• Are some trains busier than others? Do you need to book your seats?

Why?

Are you going there for a conference, event, exploring, vacation, adventure??

Are you a tourist or a traveler or a bit of both?

Even if the holiday you have planned is just a ‘staycation’ the benefits of family vacation time are incredible. Little learners thrive on the family togetherness time and being part of the planning and problem solving. Best of all, they learn about similarities and differences between people of other cultures and themselves.

‘To live is to travel’ HCAndersen

Following Directions & Child Development 


This activity is fairly advanced when it comes tofollowing  directions, and it links following multi-step directions sequentially with some articulation work on voiced/voiceless cognate pairs.

Before the family came in to the therapy room, i hid the pictures around the room. After we’d done our listening and learning at the table the 4-year old little learner needed to wriggle. This activity was a fun way to get down from the table and move around the room.

We bombard our little learners with lengthy and complex directions on a daily basis, and in educational settings the directions are non-stop. Put your shoes in your locker and go and sit on the mat. After you wash your hands, line up by the big door. Before you get your lunch box, put the blocks away and wash your hands.

Listening is the core ingredient in a child’s ability to follow directions and there are many parts to the listening process.

The little learner first has to clearly hear what is being said (auditory acuity and perception), and thisnis more difficult with a hearing loss, when the speaker is further away, cannot be seen, or is talking in background noise.

The little learner also has to understand the meaning of the sounds and words (auditory comprehension and receptive vocabulary). Lastly, the little learner has to interpret the collection of sounds and words into a sequence of events and tasks.
What are the building blocks necessary to develop following instructions?

Besides being able to hear the speaker, developed listening ability, receptive vocabulary, and sequencing skills, little learners also needs to be able to complete activities without distraction.

Working memory plays a part in following directions because the little learner has to temporarily retain and manipulate information involved in language comprehension, while carrying out various parts o the sequence.

Start with asking your little learner to do one thing. Wave bye-bye. Blow a kiss. High five. 

The next step might be to ask the little learner to take something to someone using a lot of context. Give this to mama. Get your shoes.

Gradually build up the number of things to be done and add more complex language and concepts, aiming for the ability to follow a minimum of 3-step time order directions before the age of school entry. Please put this container on the top shelf between the cereal and the honey after you wipe the sides of it. 

On average children at:

1 – 2 years of age can follow simple 1-step directions

2 – 3 years of age can follow 2-step directions

3 – 4 years of age can follow 3-part directions

References:

https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/ages-stages-learning-follow-directions/

https://childdevelopment.com.au/areas-of-concern/using-language/following-instructions/