How to Use Fruit & Veggies to Develop Language Skills

I love going to a farmer's market and finding new treasures (or delicious favorites!). And I love to wander through the produce department randomly smelling fruit and veggies that I pick up! I have long thought that grocery stores and produce areas in general make for a great starting place for language development! So I thought it was high time that I show you a few of the language skills that you can work on at home after a shopping trip or even right there in the produce department!! Of course there are many language concepts that you can work on, but here are a few:

Babies and Toddlers

Work on building background knowledge! When they are older, their teachers will give them these organizers that say K-W-L before they learn about something. The "K" part is for "Know" or more fully "what do I already know about this topic" (the W is "want to know" and the L is for "what I learned") The information that you expose your child to now will be what they draw from later! It's what's in their imagination and memory to fully comprehend stores and integrate new information that they learn! By building this background knowledge you are working on Vocabulary! First it will be receptive (or understanding) vocabulary and later they can name the items which is expressive vocabulary!

1-2 Year Olds

Your one year old should have a growing vocabulary that they are beginning to use to get things done! They tell you what they want and what they don't want! As they approach 2, they should be putting the words together. A great word to teach your child, that shows them how powerful communication is (and really, don't we all communicate to get what we want or to tell everybody what we are thinking?!) is the word "open." I love my Mystery Bag Game and this is a version of that! You can use a bag or a box, just pick something they can't see through!! Encourage your child to say "Open" or "Open the box!"telling you what to do to reveal the hidden treasures in your box! As they say it, do it! Get excited about the process of discovery!! Once open, the next powerful word is: "Look!" As you show each treasure in your box, say "Look! This is asparagus." "Look! This is a bell pepper!" Use the word "look" many times. You can even have your child LOOK in the box and tell you what he sees! "Look! Bananas!" Two year olds can also start to tell about where things can go! Simple prepositions like "in" and "out" are fun to do with mystery boxes of produce! Take the corn OUT of the box! Or pour the blueberries OUT of their containers. Then put them IN the fridge. Or put them IN the colander!

3 Year Olds

Two year olds learn to name colors, so at 3 they can start to combine those with the object they are describing! "Yellow" now gets attached to "banana" and becomes "yellow banana!"  You can add other great describing words like "small potato" or "big apple" or "long carrot" or "round pumpkin!" I like to find things that are common and unusual to compare them. Red tomato. Yellow tomato! There are orange carrots and purple carrots! You can find small potatoes and large potatoes.

4 Year Olds

Four year olds are beginning to say so many things! They have so many thoughts to share! One fun activity is to make up sentences about the fruit and veggies that you have. Then have your child repeat your sentence. You get to expose them to longer se