|Babies||Walkers to 2||2s to 3s||3s to 4s|
Overview and benefit
There is a rhythm and convention to conversation which babies and toddlers have to learn. This learning begins well before they can actually speak themselves. Children have to learn how to make eye contact when they speak, how to use their faces to express meaning, how to pause and wait for a response from the other party and how to read their expressions. Babies and children best learn these conventions and skills by actually engaging in real conversation with someone, even if they can’t actually respond. Adults should make eye contact with their baby/toddler, use clear facial expressions, ask questions and leave pauses in their talk where a child can respond, whether in sentences, word, sounds or just expressions, so they learn the concept of turn taking. Babies learn to communicate by making linguistic sounds (babble) first, the babble then starts to form into recognisable words and finally the words are constructed into sentences. Prior to babbling, babies respond to a carer’s communication with kicks, waves and facial expressions. It is important that babies are spoken, sung and read to, in order to encourage the laying down of the neural connections or ‘pathways’ required for language. Warm and responsive parents who cuddle, read and talk to their children often are laying the foundations for many more of these neural pathways to be formed and so more brain power. This fun song with talking points in the quiet periods, gives lots of opportunity for parents to focus on building communication skills with their babies and to learn to recognise the signs of the two way dialogue that their baby is giving them. It will also encourage them to take these skills outside of the classroom and really think about communicating with their non verbal child.
- MAD Academy Music Track Walkabout Talkabout song
- Talkabout Flash Cards
- Crib Cards for Carers
At least three weeks
How it works
Parents and children start in a circle and sing a simple song. On a musical cue, parents and children find a card on the wall and talk about that picture together. The idea is for the parent to concentrate on a single picture until the music instructs them to return to the centre of the room to repeat the process.
What to do in the class
Have at least one picture per child in class, give the pictures out and ask the parents to stick them at around chest height to the walls all around the room. Explain to the class the purpose of the exercise. Explain that they are going to start in a circle walking in time to the beat to the song initially then moving off to talk to their child about the pictures.
|What can you we see?Or what can we see||Walking round the room in time to the music|
|Let’s have a lookAt what we can see||Touch side of face by eyes and turn and look around the room|
|What can we see?Oh what can we see?||Walking round the room in time to the music|
|Let’s use our eyesCome and look with me||Touch side of face by eyes and turn and look around the room|
During the breaks in the singing they need to move to any picture and talk about it with their child. Remind the class that the challenge is to talk about just that picture for around 1 minute (there is a tinkly noise as a cue to finish) before returning to the centre of the room. Repeat the process two to three times.
Adaptation for older/younger children
For older children, let them lead the conversation about the picture. Children love to show off their knowledge about things. The process can be gently encouraged by the parent.
What to do in a nursery setting
This activity needs to be led from the front of the class by the class instructor. Keep 3 or 4 picture cards, sing the song while swaying rhythmically then show a picture and talk about it.
This activity is aimed at developing early speech and two way conversation, so remind parents that they must leave space in the ‘talk’ for the baby to gurgle back. It may be necessary to give some parents some ideas as to what they can talk about. There are some tips cards available if necessary in the resources. Challenge parents to talk about each picture for 30 seconds. When the parents are off talking to their child, stand back and don’t interrupt.Try not to disrupt the communication between child and parent by talking to the class during the ‘talking’ time. Give advice and guidance if necessary during the circle singing time. If you notice one to two parents rushing through and moving on to the next picture too quickly, wait until you are all back in a circle and walking around to the song, then remind the whole class to take their time and ask further questions, rather than speeding through. This way no parent is singled out. Could stick the pointer sheet up next to the pictures if your parents are struggling to know what to talk about. Instructors should keep quite during the talking sections.
As there are lots of laminates, you could save time by giving a couple to some waiting parents at the start of the class to stick up on walls.
Though the song has 4 repetitions, you may find that three is sufficient.
Some franchisees have done this element sitting down in a circle, particularly if the babies are very young. Parents pass around the pictures while the chorus plays, then when it stops they show the baby the card they have and talk about that one.
Speech therapists are very keen on this activity as they recognise the benefits for speech development, so if your children’s centre or nursery is trying to improve this area, remember to talk about this activity with them.