We recently had a lovely day out at the Discovery Centre in Bracknell and I'd recommend it at any time of year, but if you have a toddler I'd particularly recommend their 'Toddler Days'. Highlights of this day out for us included:
Dressing up as a builder and playing with the big bricks
Playing with the boats and experimenting with the flow of the river
Sending giant bubbles up a tube
Completing wooden jigsaw puzzles
Making a noise on the giant floor piano
Experimenting with camera angles
Finding out how a hot air balloon works
Days like this are so wonderful for learning both about the world, and learning words to describe the world. Your child learns through seeing, hearing and doing, so it is really a multisensory day out. If you are lucky enough to visit the Discovery Centre or a similar centre near you, here are my top 3 tips for using the day to extend your child's speech and language:
1) The activities are all really hands on, so it's a great opportunity to talk together about how things feel. You might comment on:
- the water being wet and cold
- the helmet being heavy on your head
- how hard the bricks are
- how soft the softplay is
- how the air from the hot air balloon feels on your face
- how bumpy the building materials are
2) Science activities are all about finding things out and making connections. You can help your child to make sense of all this by using the word 'because' to talk about what he or she is interested in. E.g:
If your child says 'my tower is big!' you could say 'your tower is big because you used lots of bricks'
If your child says 'my boat is stuck' you could say 'your boat is stuck because the water has gone'
If your child says 'there's no bubbles' you could say 'there's no bubbles because we haven't pressed the handle'
3) After your visit take some time to talk together about what you did and did not enjoy. This is a lovely opportunity to use the past tense and also to use language to express preferences, e.g. 'I liked building a house' 'I didn't like it when the little boy took my helmet'. Make sure this is a balanced conversation, where you offer up what you did and didn't like about your day too. This is both a chance for your child to hear your complex sentences, and also a chance to for them to experience the rules of conversation in which you both talk and listen.