Many adults may remember those famous paper turkeys we made as kids—the ones which involved tracing our own hands, making a face on the thumb, and adding colorful feathers and things to be thankful for every day. Do you ever wonder why we LOVED that so much as children; why we remember it so vividly; and why it's a great tradition to continue? It perfectly combines a child's interest in anything that relates to their own bodies and their fascination with animals of every kind. It's also a great opportunity to introduce new words to your child such as thankful, turkey, feathers, and dinner!
Beyond Thanksgiving, considering what your child cares about in their day-to-day world can provide direction for learning new words, according to Lois Bloom’s Principle of Relevance. Let their interests be the guide to building your child's language skills. If your child loves trains and visiting train museums and singing train songs, use that passion to read every train book you can find with your child. Introduce new vocabulary that relates to trains—conductor, engine, caboose, cargo, passenger—exciting words that build on that interest. You will probably even learn some new words in the process! Ask questions that assume your child is the expert as you look at new books: “What kind of train is that? Where do you think it’s going?”
With infants and toddlers, this principle begins with something called
joint attention. Joint attention occurs when two people share an interest in the same object or experience. When a child shifts his eye gaze between something he sees and another person, he’s including the other person and looking for their reactions. The following video explains why joint attention is so important: