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 



Day, Night, Wait Time, and Executive Function

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 time to take a moment to formulate their answers or responses. 

Wait time is one strategy taught to parents in listening and spoken language (Auditory-verbal therapy) sessions. Perhaps the information in this article is useful to share with parents.  

The researchers found that:

• Preschoolers tend to have better memories and worse inhibitory control than adults realize

• Preschoolers’ impulsivity often leads them to quickly give the first response that comes to mind rather than the correct one. 

•Preschoolers can respond correctly if some way can be found to get them to delay responding for just a few moments.

• Having little learners delay responding helps them generate the correct response more often because by the time they are allowed to respond less inhibition is needed, i.e. the incorrect response that popped into mind first has had time to fade

Reference: Long, D. S., Wong, C.D., & Diamond, A.  Do children need reminders on the Day-Night task, or simply some way to prevent them from responding too quickly? Published in final edited form as: Cogn Dev. 2016 January-March; 37: 67–72.!po=74.3243

Why Barrier Games are so Fab

Barrier games are a fab way to work on listening, thinking, and spoken language skills for little learners of any age. Barrier games combine questioning, answering, explaining, clarifying, and describing. The possibilities are endless to work on adjectives, prepositions, concepts, and vocabulary. 

Barrier games can be played on the floor, at the table, or via face-to-face technology such as Skype. They are simple to set up and don’t require any fancy equipment. Players need an identical set of objects and some way to hide their objects from the other person’s view. One player selects or creates something from their objects and describes what it looks like to the other player. The other player can ask questions about it. When they think they’re done, they lift the barrier to see if their objects are identical. If not, they have a laugh and discuss where they went wrong. 

For very little learners single objects can be named (one-item Auditory memory). Perhaps have 3 toys on each side of the barrier. Ask, ‘Where’s the monkey ee-ee-ee-oo-oo-oo?’ Players hold the monkey up. Model a reply say, ‘Boo! Here’s the monkey ee-ee-ee-oo-oo-oo.’ Sing a song about a monkey. Describe the monkey. 

On the floor you can use a chair or box as the barrier. Perhaps string up a sheet between 2 chairs for extra fun and language extension, not to mention thinking skills as you work with your little learner to figure out how to stop it falling down. The objects you use could be buckets and pegs, pots and pans, large blocks, DUPLO, dolls or toys cars. You could even use shoes and socks!

At the table, use a large book or a tray for your barrier. Work with sets of smaller toys, DUPLO, LEGO, felt pens and paper, colored counters, cutlery and crockery, calendars, and cut-up pictures. How about play doh with little objects to stick in it? Yes!

Via Skype the barrier is whatever you cannot see on the camera. Props probably have to be picture, pen and paper based. I have used non-matching sets of toys with older children. 

Barrier games are also great boredom-busters on long car trips. Use magnetic boards with pictures or words. 

Have fun!

Reference – 

Listening, language, and learning while cooking. 

Cooking and baking together is such a wonderful weekend or  vacation activity for the whole family. 

I can’t think of anything more fun to do to shake off that ‘cabin fever’ on a rainy day. It takes working together to choose a recipe, find the ingredients, put it all together, bake it, and then gobble up something delicious. 

Reading recipes is like reading another language. To begin with, just think of all of the new verbs your child is exposed to: chop, slice, dice, Püree, mix, soak, boil, stir, melt, etc. 

There are numerous mathematical terms in baking, including fractions and measurement by Grams and Milliliters. Talk about these units of measurement. Weigh a few more things around them home while you’re at it and predict whether things will weigh the same, less, or more. 

Discuss temperature, floating and sinking and how ingredients change form, texture, or colour. 

Have your child find the ingredients you need by reading the labels and following directions around the kitchen, e.g. The flour is in the largest tin on the top shelf. It’s to the left of the rice. Flour starts with /f/. What else starts with /f/? What does flour rhyme with?

This BBC blog has summarized the benefits of cooking with your child beautifully.

Something to say about seasons

There are thousands of crunchy leaves all over the ground in everyone’s street in NZ at the moment. 

It’s obvious that the seasons are changing/have changed. 

I’ve visited so many classrooms lately in which they are discussing the seasons. 

The little learners I work with love these busy pictures from the Materials Centre in Denmark. They show the same street and the same people in the 4 seasons. 

We talk about clothing, activities, the sky, the garden, the garden furniture, the weather, things we see in the windows, symbols of Holiday celebrations, and the months of our seasons. With older learners we talk about the fact that the seasons are the opposite in the northern hemisphere, and that conversation starts usually because we see a Christmas tree on the winter picture and an Easter bunny on the spring picture! That’s back-to-front down here in the antipodes. 

Head outside and notice the changes of season in your own street. Listen to the birds and crunchy leaves. Snap a twig. Pick a flower. Smell some herbs. Count the ants. Write your name in the dirt/sand. Play hopscotch or skip with a long rope on the footpath. Pick out shapes in the clouds. Have a wonderful day. 

CI Craft Club

This is the second time I’ve held a CI Craft Club in the cochlear ltd offices. 

The aims are to connect little learners, their family, and the cochlear team. 

This year I invited everyone on my caseload who was aged 10 and younger but no boys came along. We had 7 little learners, a dad, a few mums, and 3 grandparents. I invited a 14-year old who’s had her CI for only 6 months to come along and help too. 

I structured the day a bit more this time. We scheduled 1 1/2 hours for the whole thing, finishing with a delicious afternoon tea sponsored by cochlear. We did have a couple of little learners with MED-EL and AB devices. That didn’t matter. It was all about making connections and having fun!

We started by watching a You Tube video (Decorating your hearing aids parody of ‘shake it off’ by Aimee-Louise Paddock) then everyone drew a design of what they thought they’d like to do with the craft materials. Meanwhile all of he craft was hidden under a huge cloth. 

We pulled back the cloth and suddenly there was glitter everywhere. The craft materials included gemstones, stickers, washi tape, and nail polish. The adults had fun helping their children. It was awesome!

By afternoon tea time everyone was chatting away. Success!

We’re looking forward to next year!

Get outside and play

I’m looking forward to seeing the movie ‘Where has all the  play gone?’ because I’ve been wondering that for a while. 

It’s not as common to see children running around and playing outdoors in the garden as often as we used to. We don’t see as much outdoor play between the generations or even amongst cousins either. In the ‘old’ days families spent more time together and perhaps had more time for each other because there were fewer structured activities. The little learners were not timetabled to attend classes every afternoon in addition to kindergarten or school. They could relax and be free. Their imaginations ran wild too. Parents and grandparents had time to unwind after work instead of drive their children to an activities or three before making dinner and helping with the homework. We’re often too tired to suggest a romp around the garden or local park. 

Is this common in other countries?

Is this weather-dependent?

What will will we learn from this movie?

 Where Has All the Play Gone?

United States | 2016 | 35 min | English | Kirk Simon

Filmed over the course of a year, in schools across the United States and at the Reggio School in Italy, Where Has All The Play Gone? features leading educational voices such as Noam Chomsky, Debbie Meier, and Howard Gardner. It examines how some of the most innovative schools are meeting new challenges in education today. It examines how some of the most innovative schools are meeting new challenges in education today, highlighting the benefits of additional play in early childhood education.