Since the age of 16 months, Havvie has had an explosion in her language skills. She loves to name things around her, sing along to her favorite band The Beatles and finish sentences in books we’ve read together numerous times. Knowing all this, I thought it was time to introduce a language basket.
A language basket is one of the easiest works you can lay out for your toddler. All you need are the items you’d like to display and a tray or basket to put them in. I chose wild creatures for her first basket as they’re relevant to her experience of animals she has seen at the zoo and the aquarium. You can make a language basket out of almost anything. Some ideas include fruits, vegetables, cutlery, flowers, toy vehicles, insects and the list goes on.
I cleared some space on our cube shelf which we use to display her toys and work (I’ll write up a post on this at a later date). I placed our cotton playmat on the floor and the tray went straight on top.
She was immediately intrigued and went straight to exploring. Before introducing the tray she only knew one of the animals from the books we’d read, the hathi (known as an elephant in Hindi as we are a bilingual family). The rest of the animals she picked up within a day of exploring each of them.
The benefits of language baskets are vast. While books definitely can introduce vocabulary in a wonderful way, in this sensorial period for toddlers, there’s nothing like being able to touch and feel an object and examine it from all angles to cement the language development. They assist with comprehension, memory recall and eventually once Havvie is confident with naming the animals, we will use them for matching work.
A few things to keep in mind when introducing these baskets is to:
- Use the specific or scientific name for the objects. For example if there’s a dog, name the type such as Labrador instead of just saying dog. At this age, everything will be absorbed easily.
- You will need to repeat names many times before the child can firstly recognise what the object is and secondly vocalise the name.
- Don’t point out the errors to the child when they incorrectly name the object. Simply repeat the correct name until the child self corrects. Currently Havvie calls the dolphin a plane, because it looks like one to her. I’ll continue to point out that it’s a dolphin in a matter of fact way and she will self correct over time. You’ll be surprised at how well children do this if you simply model the right names instead of correcting. This is a great resource for understanding why we don’t correct children in Montessori.
I can’t wait for our next family trip to the zoo, where we’ll put all this newly acquired language into action!