Having fun with your mother tongue
Ideas for 6 to 10 year olds
Children go through enormous changes between the ages of 6 and 10. They learn something new every day, they forge important relationships and they become more and more independent.
From a linguistic point of view, this is a phase in which language continues to develop and becomes more and more complex. At around age 6-7 children are able to use most of the grammar of their native language. For bilingual children, this is a phase in which the school language (if different from the family language) can become more and more dominant. This is the language of academic subjects, of relationships, and of all the new discoveries that are normal in this phase of life. Something I often hear from parents is that at this age children seem to start losing the competence they previously had, and as time goes on there seems to be a bigger and bigger gap between the two languages.
Now that schools are closed, here are some ideas to boost your child’s language skills! The examples provided are in English, but are applicable to any language. I have chosen activities that can be realised at little or no cost, and that don’t require technology.
Games such as Guess Who or What Am I require participants to ask questions. You can find these games in any toy shop or online, but you can create your own, too. You can make your own cards with names of famous places, people or other interesting themes, and get together as a family to play.
The great thing about making your own game is that you can adapt it to the interests of your child. If they are into Star Wars, why not make themed cards! The key here is having fun, and grabbing your child’s interest in the language.
With younger children you can also play other types of guessing games, such as the drawing game in this video.
Treasure hunts require a bit of preparation. You need to think about a theme, write down clues and hide them. If you have two or more children to entertain this is a great game and one of the children can do the preparation. There are many templates for clues out there, so a simple online search will help.
Dedicate an evening to board games
I must say I was never a fan of board games or card games, but since the children came along I have had to learn to play a few, and I am starting to enjoy them more and more!
As my children get older, I get them to choose what we play, but I often ask them if we can play one in Italian. We usually play board games that require some use of language, games that have clue cards or those that require some reading or writing. This way the children have fun while learning some important language skills. You can play Boggle, Scrabble or Bananagrams, which are all word games. If your child isn’t too confident with the language, you can play your own simplified version. You can also make your own word game to work on words that have complex spellings, plurals and singulars, masculine and feminine and so on!
Story cubes look like dice with images printed on each side. Each player throws the dice and makes up a story. There are commercial versions of this game such as Rory’s Story Cubes, but children might also like to make their own, based on their interests. Here you can see a simple some instructions that you can adapt.
Finally, these games ideas used in language schools might give you some inspiration.
If this list is not enough, don’t despair! There will be more ideas on this website soon!
Dr Francesca La Morgia
Founder of Mother Tongues
COMING SOON – 02/04/2020
The bilingual child
Live Webinar with Dr Francesca La Morgia - Part 1
The webinar is free for Mother Tongues Members.