Staring at a worksheet with your toddler or preschooler and attempting to teach him about verbs by filling in bubbles or blanks only serves to drive both of you crazy. Kids this age need to move. They need to incorporate tangible activities that connect learning to their day-to-day experiences. So toss that worksheet in the trash and engage your child is some age-appropriate activities that focus on verbs.
1. Follow the Verb Leader
Help your toddler or preschooler to understand that verbs are action words by creating a variation on the game “Simon Says.” Begin by explaining to your child that she should follow the leader’s instructions only when they are prefaced by the phrase “Simon says.” Stick with simple action verbs such as "jump," "dance," "touch," "reach" and "shout." Toddlers enjoy the activity simply for the action, so forgo the references to “Simon Says” for these littlest ones. Once she gets the hang of the game, give your youngster a turn as the leader, with you following her instructions.
2. Verb Tenses
Whether he’s waiting for a birthday or an important holiday, your child never seems to stop asking, “How much longer?” Teach him a bit about past and future with an inexpensive calendar that displays each month on a separate page. Place easy- to-identify stickers on the calendar to mark significant dates. You might use a Santa face on December or a birthday cake on your child’s birthday month. Separate the months from the calendar and lay the pages in a line on the floor. Ask your child to stand on the current month. Show him which events are before him and which are behind, using past and future tenses. Say, for example, “Your birthday came last month” or “Thanksgiving will come in two months.”
3. The Verb "To Be"
Create a rhythm activity to help your toddler or preschooler get the hang of conjugating the verb “to be.” Show her how to keep time on a drum, rhythm sticks or simply by clapping along as you speak, “I am, you are, he is, she is, it is, we are, you are, they are.” If you take the time to emphasize each syllable, your youngster will be able to play along with a beat of her instrument for each one. Repeat this activity a few times, inviting her to join in, repeating the proper conjugation along with you. Don’t worry if your toddler isn’t quite on the beat and isn’t ready to repeat the verb conjugations. You'll be laying a strong foundation for future learning with this activity.
4. Picture Book Verbs
As you snuggle together at bedtime with a favorite story, help your toddler or preschooler begin to make connections between the illustrations in picture books and the action verbs that they depict. To locate books that emphasize action verbs, visit your local library. Check out books that introduce your child to a variety of verbs, such as the ones from the “Words are Categorical” series by Brian Cleary. His picture books “To Root, To Toot, Parachute: What is a Verb?” and “Slide and Slurp, Scratch and Burp: More About Verbs” can introduce your child to a world of new verbs in a silly, rhyming fashion.
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