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Toddler Language Building

Little N is now 20 months old.
Her speech is very clear and she's saying new words and phrases all the time.
She enjoys singing her favourite Nursery Rhymes and copies everything you say.

She is really into her books. We read a handful at her request throughout each day. We also sing a variety of songs mainly The Grand Old Duke of York over and over and over again.

Little N really enjoys watching back videos of herself or videos of her friends and family that she knows well and she loves looking through photographs.

This is what inspired me to do this activity.

I would love nothing more than to fill a photo album full of pictures for her to explore as she wished but due to her age she is still rather heavy handed so it wouldn't stay intact for long!

We have a magnetic board which we haven't really used much so I decided to utilise this.

I brought 15 blank plastic photograph magnets from Ebay. I carefully selected photos considering the following:
- Memory triggers
- Interests
- People she loves
- Situations which we could then go on to talk about other things

I choose
- A recent visit we had had to the Sealife Centre
- Her playing with a family member
- A train ride we went on where Little N was holding the train ticket
- Little N meeting a relatives puppies for the first time
- Building sand castles on the beach
- Little N wearing sun classes
- Playing in the swimming pool
- Little N making wolf soup (linked to a story we have been reading)
- Our pet - Paws the cat
- A recent visit to the Zoo
- Helping her Daddy get the logs for our Log Burner
- Bath time
- Sitting on the potty
- Playing in the garden
- Conker collecting

I used the Boots kiosk 'Kodak' which allows you to make smaller prints which were a perfect fit for these magnets.
I made them all up and left them as an invitation for play the following morning.

She always notices new additions and the invitations I set up are always draw her in.

Over she went, she sat next to the basket and began to explore some of the photograph magnets.
She squealed with delight as she recognised herself in the pictures.

I started by only putting 6 of the magnets out for her to explore. I did this as I wanted to introduce more as the week went on to keep the activity exciting and engaging for her.

She brought the basket over to me to begin with.
"What's this?" she asked holding up the magnet of her stroking the tiny 8 week old puppy.
"I don't know Little N what is it?" I quizzed back.
"Its N..... and puppy." she said.
"Aww wow what are you doing?" I asked
"N...... give puppy love" she said
"Are you stroking the puppy?" I asked
"Yes, N.... stroke puppy." she repeated
"Mommy stroked the puppy too, he was very soft. What is the puppy's name?
Little N looked at me a little unsure.
"Her name is Bella" I added.
"Bella" she repeated. "Bella soft" she recalled.
"She was soft you're right, she likes to sleep on a nice warm blanket."
"N.... warm blanket too, N... stroke Puppy" she said.
"You did stroke the puppy thats right, we had to be very careful and stroke him gently because he is only a baby." I said.

We went through the magnets and had discussions about each on of them. I pointed out interesting things she had missed and we talking about different scenarios, where I reinforced new language to her.

For example:
The train ride.
We spoke about paying the man for the tickets. How we sat on the train and Little N held the ticket tight. How the train went very quick and we waved to the people as we passed by. We also spoke about the noises the train made.

Little N went to add them on the board and was fascinated that they stuck. She tried to stick them to the door and when it fell to the floor she said "Oh dear it's not working".

Little N explored the magnets each day and as I could see she was ready to explore some more I added them to her basket waiting there for her to discover.

The following week we went to visit the puppies again. Little N had recalled most of what we had been talking about and sat there talking to us about the puppy feeling soft and how she needed to be careful as he was a baby. She pointed over to her bed and said how she liked sleeping on a warm blanket.

I smiles to myself as she did this as this was an indication to me that this activity had been a success.


- Exploring cause and effect
- Building new language
- Re-calling past events and information
- Engaged in an activity

Extending this activity:

To continue to introduce new pictures and picture cards to link up to the correct magnets.

Learning Through Play
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