For preschoolers and older children, invite them into a conversation by expanding on both their words and their actions; ask questions rather than just making demands. If she tells you she wants the snowman cookie on the plate, ask, “Tell me why you want that big, white snowman cookie? What about the small tree cookie that’s decorated with the silver and gold ornaments?” In this way, you make her think about why she is making a certain choice while modeling how to be descriptive with words and using new vocabulary. When she's eating the cookie, you can ask questions about whether the cookie is crunchy, soft, crumbly, sweet, etc.
When you ask questions that have many possible responses rather than closed questions with just one right answer, this keeps your conversation going. Instead of “What color is the firetruck?” or “What is next to the elephant?” try “Can you tell me more about that firetruck?” or “What do you think the elephant is doing?” Another easy way to talk with your child is to simply notice what he finds interesting and comment on it. For example, say, “I see that you like that tractor.” This simple statement prompts your child to begin a conversation that focuses on something he enjoys! In the next video below, notice how these teachers use questioning and commenting to encourage conversation with preschoolers. (Watch from 4:14 – 6:43 minutes.)