The holiday season with little ones can be a magical time. It can also be a lot of work and stress, but let’s focus on the fun stuff for now. Time to practice sounds and words and songs with a Christmas theme to help little ones learn to talk and enjoy the festivities!
Some of our family’s favorite activities at this time of year are going to the zoo to see all of the lights, watching the Christmas parade, driving around to see all of the lights/decorations (which is easier once the little ones can face forward in their car seats), and visiting Santa. That Santa visit took us a few years to accomplish as sitting on a strange man’s lap dressed in a costume didn’t seem like a good idea to either of my kids when they were babies or toddlers. I get it. We just waved and watched.
Advent calendars are great for practicing peek-a-boo and “knock knock” on the doors to reveal the next picture or candy. Decorating the tree allows for opportunities to describe the ornaments and try words like “up” and “more”. It’s also the perfect setup to offer your little one a choice of which ornament he would like to put up. Practice “Thank You” throughout the day so that your little one will be ready to receive gifts. Wrap up gifts for others and practice making deliveries: “bye bye” and “here you go”. Better yet, wrap up some of your current toys and hide them away for a few months!
Christmas is a great time to practice fun sounds and songs whenever you start to see decorations pop up. In fact, running your daily errands in stores may be your little one’s first experience with lots of new sparkly, musical, brightly colored objects they’ve never seen before!
Here are just some of my favorite sounds/words/songs to use during Christmastime…
1. Tongue clicks for reindeer hooves. Anytime you see Rudolph in a book, a store window, or hear his song playing while you shop – go ahead and click your tongue. Don’t forget to point out his flashing “red nose – ooo aaahh”.
2. Sing “Jingle Bells” with shakers/bells and make sure to get a big “HEY” in there at the end! This song isn’t all that easy for little ones, but the ending can be fun to SHOUT! “Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh – HEY!”
3. Make lots of excited sounds while looking at Christmas lights “ooo”, “wow”, “blink blink”, “tada”, “yay!” Gasping with excitement is good too!
4. Yummy sounds for all the treats and cookies “mmmm”, exaggerated sniffing to introduce the smells of cinnamon, Christmas trees, gingerbread, and minty candy canes.
5. Sing “Deck the Halls” and change the “Fa la la las” to different consonants…”ba ba ba…da da da…wa wa wa”. Heck just change ALL the words so that it makes sense for your little one:
“Time to eat let’s go have dinner – yum yum yum yum yuuuuum yum yum yum yum.”
“Time for bath let’s pour the water – rub a dub a duuuuub dub dub dub dub.”
“Time to sleep let’s go to bed – night night night night niiiiight ssssh ssssh sssh sssh.”
6. Cold sounds… “brrrr”. Yep, you’ll get a lot of use of this one. Depending on where you live, you may get to introduce lots of words for playing in the snow, too.
7. If you have a train around your tree…(or you go visit one of the many on display this time of year) “choo choo”, “ding dong”, “hi” and “bye”. My son’s first true word was “bye” as he waved to the train going around the track at Christmastime so this one has a special place in my heart. It was a highly repetitive way to practice the same two words “hi” and “bye” over and over and over again as that train kept his attention LOCKED.
8. Last but definitely not least…. Santa!!! “Ho, ho, ho”. Whether Santa visits your house or not, it would be hard to avoid images of this big bellied man dressed in a red suit throughout the entire month of December. Fortunately, he has a silly and fairly easy sound for your little one to repeat. Hard to say “ho, ho, ho” and not play with your voice even a little bit!
If you’re looking for toy ideas for little ones that will encourage interaction and help children learn to talk, go to my full list of creative, active, and pretend toys Best toys and gifts: a speech therapist’s list! then check out Toys that do nothing!
Don’t forget to save all of those boxes that the toys come in (another good reason to buy from Amazon – more boxes) because they may be your baby’s favorite gift!