Baby's First Year · Parenting

Baby talk: Let’s get moving with action words

Toddler and parent dancing in living room

Children expand their vocabulary by hearing the words we use. We tend to be really great at labeling objects (think: “A car! A ball! A puppy!”). But of course, we need other types of words to build sentences.

Action words (verbs) are really important for building sentences, but they can be trickier to teach. Here are some tips to help build action words into your daily routine – they might even get you and baby moving and grooving!

Three simple ways to encourage action words in your child’s speech:

  1. Label actions while they are happening.
    This connects the words to what your child is doing and seeing in the moment. For example, when you are making lunch you can talk about cutting fruit, stirring soup, or spreading butter When you are out for a walk in the community you can talk about cars driving, birds flying, leaves falling, and so much more!
  2. Choose action words that match your child’s interests.
    Children are more likely to focus on things they are interested in – so be sure to follow their lead. Talk about what they are doing and how their favourite toys move!
  3. Repeat the word in different ways – adding a little emphasis to help it stand out.
    Here’s an example of how I might repeat the action word ‘wave‘ in different ways: “Look! Our friends are waving See them waving to us? Let’s wave back to them!”

Music and rhyming is a fun way to model language. One of my favourite songs for modeling action words is “If You’re Happy and You Know It”. During this song, you get to show the actions that match with the words – and it has lots of repetition to help children learn the routine and join in!  Plus – you can change the words to sing it anywhere for any action!

Children’s song lyrics using actions: If You’re Happy and You Know it

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands
If you’re happy and you know it
And you really want to show it
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands

During Playtime At Snack / Lunch
If you’re HAPPY and you know it…
  • Stomp your feet
  • Wiggle your fingers
  • Dance around
  • Wave your arms
  • Shake your legs
If you’re HUNGRY (or THIRSTY) and you know it…
  • Eat a snack
  • Lick the spoon
  • Stir the soup
  • Drink some milk
  • Pour the water

Do you have other verses, songs or activities that help build movement into play?

What are your child’s favourite action words?

Share your ideas with us in the comments below!

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