Language learning play with Spiderman

Jan 5, 2016

What does your kid really love to play with? Whatever it is, you can use it for really fun play together, and for boosting their language development. In this post I show you how, with four fantastic ways for toddlers and preschoolers to play with Spiderman!

Toddler play ideas with SpidermanSo I have two kids who don’t want to play with dolls. I have a lot of theories about this, which I’ll spare you; let’s just say, I’d be happy for them to play with dolls if they wanted, but they don’t.

Now, doll play is absolutely brilliant for language learning, especially for little ones just getting into imaginative play. For a brief window I did get my one-year-old interested in feeding and putting a doll to bed, but it didn’t last. Now, he wants to play with Spiderman.

Neither of my children has ever watched Spiderman. They don’t get to watch TV shows with violence, so they don’t really know what Spiderman is. There isn’t even a TV in our home. But somehow they caught onto the idea that Spiderman is totally great. Probably this started with their older cousins and grew as they saw merchandise in the shops, and then grandpa bought them a Spiderman…

All those games the youngest doesn’t want to do with a toy doll, guess what – he does them with Spiderman.

I’m a big believer in getting enthusiastic about what my kids enjoy, and finding games to expand their play so they learn along the way. Whether your kid loves a stuffed bear, Fireman Sam or Dora, you can use those passions for better play. Here it is then: Get your toddler talking with Spiderman…

  1. Doll play with Spiderman

Many of the things traditionally done with a doll really can be done with Spiderman! Feed him, wash him, put him to bed… These are fantastic games for young toddlers learning to use basic language that describes their everyday life. Keep your language near your toddler’s level, e.g. for a child learning to say single words or short phrases, you might say, ‘Spiderman wants to eat apple. Give him apple. He’s eating apple. Mmmm, tasty apple.’

Our Spiderman is hard plastic, so he joins my toddler in the bath, great for teaching body parts as he gets a wash!

  1. Rescue things

Spiderman is a hero, so he can join in on rescue games, such as hunting for a lost toy cat and climbing up to rescue it from on top of a box. This kind of storytelling play is fantastic for language because it captures a toddler’s attention, and you can adapt the language and ideas to where they are developmentally. Be dramatic and fairly simple, e.g. ‘Oh no, my cat is stuck on the shelf. Help! Help! Spiderman, can you get my cat? …’

  1. Hide Spiderman

For toddlers who aren’t ready for the kind of imaginative play described above, a much simpler game is to hide the toy, and get your child to find it. This game helps teach all sorts of names for things around the house (sofa, table, bed etc.) as well as location words (on, in, under etc.) and short phrases (‘He’s on the sofa!’ ‘Find Spiderman!’ ‘You found him!’ etc.).

  1. Get active

Pretend to be Spiderman with simple running and jumping games. It’s a very simple way to get some energy and fidgets out after a quieter sit-down activity. My kids love this. The three-year-old runs and jumps, and the little one copies him.

Even better, make a Spiderman obstacle course: something to climb up (e.g. some cushions), something to crawl under (e.g. a blanket thrown over some chairs), something to jump over (e.g. lines of painter’s tape on the floor), something to rescue at the other end (e.g. a soft toy). Talk about what your child is doing to teach verbs (crawl, jump, climb, run, go, get…) and prepositions (over, under, on…). Then do it all again!

We turned this obstacle course activity into a game of Spiderman Says. I carried the figure around the course to show my kids what to do, explaining: ‘Spiderman says, Climb over the cushions! Spiderman says, Throw the ball into the basket!’. This got my boys very enthusiastic. It helped them to practice following instructions, and they were quickly repeating whatever Spiderman said! At the end of it all, poor old Spiderman was really tired, so we put him to bed and read him a story.

There you go: four ideas, a huge amount of language learning possibilities and heaps of fun. It really doesn’t matter if it’s Spiderman or another toy that captures your child’s imagination, you can use their interests to bring more word-boosting fun to the day. Enjoy!


If you liked this, and are looking for more fun ideas for play that incorporates language learning, check out my book: Word Boosting: A practical guide to encouraging your toddler’s language skills, with 365+ easy playtime activities.


This post is shared at Let Kids Be Kids.

 

 

6 Comments

  1. Su {Ethan & Evelyn}
    March 8, 2016

    This is such a fantastic idea. Instead of Spiderman – I would be using dinosaur. My boy really need something else other than dinosaur mad all-the-time! lol! Thank you for sharing. #letkidsbekids

    Reply
    • Kathleen
      March 8, 2016

      Thanks for commenting. Dinosaurs are big in our house too 🙂

      Reply
  2. Let Kids Be Kids
    March 8, 2016

    This sort of play is important, but you are right it really doesn’t have to be a doll, it can be anything that inspires your child. Love your ideas.
    Thanks for sharing with #LetKidsbeKids

    Reply
    • Kathleen
      March 8, 2016

      Thanks! I felt really uncertain about the spiderman love around here at first, but for now it’s just fun and innocent, so I’m going with it!

      Reply
  3. Baby Isabella
    March 8, 2016

    What a great technique! I’m going to get my folks to try this with my unicorn! It’s such a fun idea to keep young minds interested #LetKidsBeKids x

    Reply
    • Kathleen
      March 8, 2016

      Thanks for stopping by! Have fun with the unicorn 🙂

      Reply

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