Communication and interaction

Children with communication and language difficulties may find it hard to communicate with and relate to others. They may have difficulty in saying what they want and understanding what is being said to them. This in turn will impact on social interaction, language, communication and imagination.

The following activities are designed to stimulate the use of language, to encourage communication and imagination in the home environment and local community. You are not expected to complete all of the activities but to choose the ones that you are drawn to and interested in. It is hoped that by engaging in these activities you will begin to recognise other opportunities for supporting communication and language as part of everyday life.


The art of description

This activity uses a familiar object as a basis for developing communication and language skills, and for introducing different words into descriptive language.

What you will learn
You will learn to describe an object that is familiar to you, to use different words and language for a purpose. You will start by focusing on one object (your favourite toy) but can then use the skills to describe other objects that you come across.

What you will need

  • Your favourite toy
  • Paper and pen or a recording device
  • A friend or family member

<p>Parent and child talking, writing, drawing. Education and teaching. Getty Images 1135353626.</p>

What you will do

1. Pick one toy and look at it carefully
2. Describe your toy – you can describe it to another person, record your own description, or you can write it down or even draw it.
3. What is it?
4. What colour is it?
5. What material is it made from?
6. What different parts does it have?
7. How big is it? (think of different words to describe its size)
8. What does it do / what you do with it?
9. Are there any other ways you can describe your toy?
10. Now share your description with someone else and ask them to draw what you have described (does their drawing look like your toy? If not what is missing from your description?)

Implementation tips
Have your toy in front of you for your part of this exercise (but remember to hide it when you ask someone to draw it for you!) Ensure you are not distracted and have to hand everything that you need.

Extension activity
Extend this activity by describing other things around you such as your favourite meal, your home, a friend or family member. Think about all the different ways you can describe your toy and the different words you can use.

Tips for parents
Using different words to describe something will develop literacy skills. It is important that children and young people develop language skills and are encouraged to use more complex words as they make their description more accurate. There are links here to other domains of learning such as cognition and literacy through developing language, talking for a purpose, and writing, physical skills through fine motor movement, social skills in recognising that different people interpret things in different ways.


The listening project

This activity supports listening and attention skills. By listening to the environment around you and paying attention to where the sounds have come from you will develop your own skills in conversation.

What you will learn
You will learn to relate sounds to objects and experiences in your daily life. By developing your listening skills in this way you will also become more aware of the sounds found in words and language.

<p>Group of children hiking, outdoor education in nature.</p><p>Getty 1198107702</p>

What you will need

  • A recording device such as a phone
  • Pen and paper
What you will do

1. Go for a walk
2. Listen to and record the sounds around you as part of your daily life
3. Play back the sounds you recorded
4. Make a list of the sounds you found
5. Describe what was happening and how it made you feel
6. See if you can reproduce the sounds with your voice or with objects around you
7. Match the sounds with the objects

Implementation tips
Think about where the microphone is on your recording device and make sure it is not covered by your hand. You don’t need to record for too long, less than a minute is just fine.

Extension activity
Try different environments, in your home, or in the garden, at different times of the day, on a shopping trip or a walk in the countryside.

Tips for parents
You might need to accompany your child if they wish to record sounds outside of the home. Think about where you can go that would provide a rich and varied source of different and perhaps unusual sounds.

There are links here to other domains of learning such as cognition and learning. The ability to identify different sounds in the environment forms the basis for later phonetic skills.


A sock puppet show

This activity supports literacy skills, creativity and communication. By developing puppets with different facial expressions and putting on a show your own understanding of emotional expression is developed.

What you will learn
You will learn to relate different actions to emotions and facial expressions through developing your own puppet show and propos.

<p>Child with sock puppets, education and teaching.</p><p>Getty Images 483169619</p>

What you will need

  • Old socks
  • Card
  • Scissors
  • glue
  • coloured felt tips or crayons
  • paper and pens
What you will do
1. Write a puppet show. You can base this on a story you already know or write your own
2. Using range of different old socks for the characters for your story
3. Make different faces out of circular pieces of card (happy, sad, angry, frustrated and so on) and glue them into place on different socks
4. Perform your show using your sock puppets as characters!

Implementation tips
Think about all the different sorts of facial expressions you might need to narrate your story. Be as creative as you can!

Extension activity
If you have the materials consider how you can develop your sock puppets with hair and clothing. If you have any velcro you can change the facial expressions on your puppets!

Tips for parents
Your child might need some prompting to get going. A great starting point is to choose a story they already know and love. Take the time to talk with your child about emotions and how different circumstances might make them feel.

There are links here to other domains of learning such as literacy skills and creativity, social skills through the recognition of facial expressions and emotions.


What is important to you?

What you will learn
You will learn to describe how different people and things make you feel and what interests you share with other family members and friends.

What you will need

  • A camera
  • Pens / pencils
  • Scrap book

<p>Family with children looking at a photo album / scrap book together.</p><p>Getty 1053736200</p>

What you will do

1. Take photographs of the people and things that are important to you
2. Stick them into a scrap book
3. Write down why they are important
4. Share with your family members

Implementation tips
This is an activity that you can develop over time but you can also do it for other people. Why not help others to create their own scrap book?

Extension activity
You could use different coloured paper to write down your ideas next to each person / object as well as what you family members think. You can do this for a family member or friend who cannot get out visit their friends or see the things they love.

Tips for parents
Accompany your child and prompt them to think about why someone / something is important to them. This activity supports social and emotional wellbeing by supporting your child to articulate why things and people are important to them. Creativity and literacy skills it also encourages children to think outside of the boundaries of every-day life, a skill which can be quite challenging for some!

Download these activities as a printable PDF