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  • Mandi Schaumburg

Motor Imitation and Language!!

Imitation of fine and gross motor activities paired with language is such a great all around developmental activity. I love to do this with my toddlers in therapy. The following tips can also be done at home, in the car, or in an airplane during summer travel! A very common activity is pointing to body parts. Most parents do this with their toddlers without even realizing they are inputting valuable language skills!!

For example: If you tell your child to "touch their nose" they are learning the action word "touch," they are following a one step command, and they are learning that the thing on your face is called a nose! Do this everyday until your child can touch all body parts (eyes, nose, ears, hair, tummy, hands, feet, ect.)

A great way to expand on this is to touch the body part and then provide expanded language on function.

  • After saying "where are your hands?" you could say "clap your hands" and have them imitate clapping.

  • You could say "touch your nose" and then say "we smell with our nose", and do an over exaggerated sniff or smell something like a cookie and say "mmmm smells good!"

  • "Where are your feet?" After they point to them you could say "We walk/run/hop with our feet" and have them imitate you doing this.

The next step step after they have mastered the skills above is an expressive task. Simply point to your (or their) body part and ask them to name it.

Another way to pair language and motor actions is to go to the park. This is something easy to fit in a family vacation! Follow your child's lead and narrate (provide language bombardment) as they play on each structure.

  • When they climb up a ladder you can model language such as: "you are climbing up up up!!" "time to slide down!! "yay! you slid down"

  • When they are swinging you could say: "time to swing" "you are swinging up high!"

  • If they are playing in the sand box you can model language such as: "let's dig a hole, shovel in, scoop it up"

You can apply these strategies to any motor activity like rolling a ball on the floor, riding a scooter, or even pretending to be a puppy!

The main thing to remember is to continue to model language about what is happening around them. If you model language paired with fun motor activities, you are providing a great language learning experience!!

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