Building Oral Language On-the-Go

Published on Saturday, February 02, 2013

Post a "CAR" sign in the play areas of your classroom to remind adults to use the CAR strategies during play.

Children vary in their activity levels, but most young children are physically active during much or some of each day. When children are active it’s difficult to focus on a quiet task like looking at a picture book. How do you promote oral language during play time or when a child is active?

Play time, running errands, and doing chores are all good times to use the CAR strategies to increase oral language. Adults can make Comments, Ask questions, and Respond by adding more, all the while following the child’s interest. For example, if a child is playing on a swing at the park you can make a comment like, “Your swing is going back and forth, back and forth.” Or if your child shows interest in the birds in the tree, you could ask an open-ended question like, “What do you think those crows are doing?” Responding by adding more depends on what your child says, but here’s an example: If your child says, “I want to play on the monkey bars,” you can say “Great! Let’s play on the monkey bars next.” 

Here’s another play example that we demonstrate in our video program Talking and Play. If your child is loading a toy truck you can make a comment like, “Your truck is full.” or ask a question like, “Where is your truck going with all that stuff?” If your child says, “There’s stuff inside” you can respond by saying, “There’s a lot of stuff inside your blue truck!”

You can also use the CAR strategies when you are doing chores and errands. “You’re bringing me the spoon. Thank you.” “How many apples should we get? Let’s count.” “There’s a red fire truck up at the corner!”

The video programs Talking and Play and Talking and Books make up the Language is the Key set. Preview the video Talking and Books at our web site. If you would like to preview the video Talking and Play give us a call or send an email to arrange a preview.  

Visit our web site for more ways to use the CAR strategies during active times or when you are “On the Go” with young children. We have many materials that make great hand-outs for Language is the Key staff or parent training. These materials are free with registration.