Teaching and learning

10 EYFS Communication and Language Activities

Playful ways to encourage speech and language development
Early Year Educator pointing out communication and language activities
December 18, 2017
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Picture of a colander and pompoms

1. Practice turn-taking and talking with the pom-pom avalanche

Pom Pom Turn Taking Game by Onetimethrough

What you need for this communication and language activity:

  • Around 50 coloured pom-poms
  • Wooden barbecue sticks or pipe cleaners
  • A large colander

Trap the pom-poms in the colander using the wooden sticks or pipe cleaners and then turn it upside down. Next, the children take turns to carefully remove one stick or pipe cleaner each, until all of the pom poms fall down like an avalanche!

Why it works:

Children are able to practice turn-taking (as you do in conversation) in a fun way, and support their fine motor skills to boot. Plus, there's plenty of opportunity for new vocabulary when talking about what's happening in the game.

Picture of two boys sitting in a room

2. Develop attention with a classic memory game

Paper Plate Big Alphabet Memory Game by Frugal Fun For Boys and Girls

What you need for this communication and language activity:

  • A Dozen Paper Plates
  • Marker Pens

A kingsize variation of the good old pair-matching game. Take several paper plates and markers and write some letters if you want your little ones to practice literacy or draw shapes, animals and other items if it’s time to build their vocabulary.

‍Why it works:

Another opportunity to hone those turn-taking skills and practice paying attention. Children can also help one another out, using their broadening verbal and social skills to support a teammate. This is also a great way to throw in some positional vocabulary, to extend sentences like "that one there."

Picture of a boy listening to paper cup telephone.

3. Get talking on the DIY telephone

Super Simple Listening Game and Crafts for Kids by Kids Activities Blog

What you need for this communication and language activity:

  • Plastic Cups
  • String or Rope
  • Paint for Decoration

This simple, crafty telephone will engage children for hours. All they need to do is paint some plastic cups, poke a hole in each of them, and thread string through the bottom. You can experiment with various speaking activities but we recommend the old-school game of telephone where kids whisper to each other and pass the message around.

‍Why it works:

While phones with cords may be a thing of the past, a good old natter on the phone is likely to be something the children in your setting are familiar with. Whether it's role-playing being a parent or carer on the telephone, or passing messages to one another, the more opportunities to talk and communicate with one another, the better.

Picture of young girls dancing

4. Practice careful listening with a game of dance freeze

Game of the Week: Dance Freeze by Playworks

What you need for this communication and language activity:

  • A Music Player
  • An Open Area Free of Obstacles

Dance when the music’s on and freeze when it stops - just like musical statues. You might know it as some ice-breaker entertainment for a birthday party, but it’s also great for an attention and listening exercise. If you’re not sure what to play, check out this video with some lovely, cartoon characters that sing and guide their audience.

‍Why it works:

Communication requires good listening and, like any other skill, those listening skills need careful development. Making a game of listening carefully, and responding appropriately when a sound starts or stops, is a great way to practice using those all-important listening ears.

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Picture of stones with paintings

5. Tell a tale with some story stones

Homemade Story Stones by Happy Hooligans

What you need for this communication and language activity:

  • Small Stones
  • Stickers or Mod Podge and Magazine Pictures Cut-Outs

First, you'll need some flat and smooth stones from a craft shop, beach, or your setting's garden. Next, you and the children decorate them with individual pictures, that can prompt part of a story. Choose one of the stones and start a tale based on the picture on it, then encourage your preschoolers to draw more stones and continue the story.

‍Why it works:

Story stones are essentially very simple prompts for narrative play. "Tell me a story about this sun, painted on the stone," is far easier instruction to hear than just "Talk to me about something!" If you want the children in your setting to talk, give them something interesting to talk about.

Picture of clothes cut outs

6. Get chatting about fashion with this dressing-up activity

Free Let’s Get Dressed Game by Teaching Talking

What you need for this communication and language activity:

  • Free Printables
  • Scissors

Simply print the free templates and cut them out.

‍Why it works:

As above, children are inspired to communicate about something that interests them. These neat printables encourage your little fashionistas to use vocabulary about clothes and colours and can support talking about personal care routines, differences, and preferences.

Picture of a small girl with binoculars

7. See and say with "I Spy"

10 Ways to Play ‘I Spy’ by Teaching Every Day

What you need for this communication and language activity:

  • Nothing, actually!

At the link, you'll find 10 variations of ‘I Spy’ game to mix up the old classic.

‍‍Why it works:

I spy is fantastic for communication and language. Within the game are opportunities for children to practice thinking about questions they can ask (and listening to the answer), turn-taking, remembering what's been asked before, and of course, social interactions.

Picture of cards for playing tabboo

8. Talking practice for pre-schoolers with Tabboo

Taboo Pack for Kids by Way to Master English

What you need for this communication and language activity:

  • The free printables from the link above
  • Scissors

Each card consists of a picture that players have to explain to each other without using the three words listed underneath. It’s an amazing, playful activity that takes vocabulary development to a whole new level and encourages creativity.

Why it works:

T‍his game is perfect for older children who are developing a broader vocabulary. The game forces the players to think beyond the 'taboo' words listed, to describe an object in a way that their friends will understand and recognise it.

Picture of nursery rhymes

9. Nursery Rhymes for nursery children

10 Nursery Rhymes to Sing With Babies by Rainy Day Mum

What you need for this communication and language activity:

  • Music Player or Some Instruments

These ten all-time classics are great for singing and adding a little music to your day.

‍Why it works:

Nursery rhymes tend to be simple and repetitive, so easy for little ones to pick up, remember, and repeat, while practising pronunciation and intonation. You can also learn more about adding music to your curriculum here.

Picture of a boy reading a book

10. Plain and simple story time

World Book Day: 11 Books from Around the World by Famly

What you need for this communication and language activity:

  • Books
  • A Cosy Reading Nook

Toss The Very Hungry Caterpillar aside for a moment and check out this list of classics from all around the globe.

‍Why it works:

‍We have entire articles on how to make the most of story time, as it's such a key feature of good quality early years provision. For more inspiration, why not check some of them out :

The big ideas

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Official Danish Government Reopening Advice

Guidance from the Danish Health Ministry, translated in full to English.

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UK Nursery Covid-19 Response Group Recommendations

The full recommendations from a working group of over 70 nursery chains in the UK.

Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.

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