Of course, you don't believe that a spider as big as the car lives in your young child's closet. But, you are pretty certain he did see a spider or bug. And, you know he isn't starving, as he claims. But, you know he is probably hungry. Exaggeration is a natural part of language for any age, but toddlers and preschools seem to perfect the art. Engage in some fun exaggeration activities to help him expand his imagination and also to learn the difference between tall tales and true stories. First, though, go to his room and save him from that horrible spider.
1. Read Exaggeration Stories
There are many picture books available that are based on an exaggeration of something. Enjoy some time together reading books that tell exaggeration stories. "Chicken Little" is a familiar book about a series of events that stem from a simple incident of an acorn falling on a chicken's head, and she immediately thinks the worst -- the sky is falling. In Dr. Seuss' book, "And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street," a little boy's description of a horse and wagon turns into quite an exaggerated tale. Longtime favorite tall tales also include characters like Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill and the Big Bad Wolf.
2. Make Up Tall Tales
Encourage your master storyteller to make up stories about something she has experienced or seen. Give her some hints so she knows that it's okay to let her imagination soar. Have her make up interesting names for characters, whether they are people, animals or other creatures. Make a keepsake of her storytelling by recording with video or audio. You can even type up the story as she tells it, and then read back to her. Keep it in a safe place and she'll enjoy it when she's older, too.
3. Big Numbers
Although your child is beginning to understand numbers, he will love using the really big numbers that he might not yet know. When you put food on his plate, ask questions like, "How many peas do you think are on your plate? Is it a billion?" Let him say some really big numbers, then have him count the actual number of peas. Repeat the activity with books on a shelf and other items that he can actually count after guessing. You can also encourage him to guess how many leaves are on a tree he sees, then count some of them as far as he can count. Do the same with things like pebbles, a bucket of sand, and bubbles in his bath.
4. Body Language
Your future actor will absolutely love doing exaggerated facial expressions such as being ''really mad'', ''very tired'', ''too sad'' and the'' happiest girl in the world.'' Let her use her emotional body language in a game of "Can You Be ..?" Encourage stomping, pouting, clapping hands and all those body language actions she usually does, anyway. Have her look in a mirror as she does the actions or consider taking pictures to make a funny collage.
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