Playing The Sounds Game with your infant or toddler is fun . . . and more. It’s a verbal game with a two-fold purpose: To model talking and to invite your child to imitate.
One way to play this game is to use alliteration, a big word for a simple happening. Using alliteration, you say words that begin with the same language sound. (Note: /d/ indicates the language sound we say/hear in words like dig, dollar, and dark.)
Your infant or toddler will pay close attention as you play The Sounds Game. She’ll listen to hear each unique sound you say. She’ll watch to see exactly how you make that sound come from your mouth. She will watch your mouth, your tongue, cheeks, teeth, and lips.
Alliteration presents a win-win for the two of you. It offers richness your child will not ignore, and you have another free teaching tool that’s always with you. You also have yet another useful distraction tool. There’s a lot of power in this one simple verbal game.
Although your little listener will delight in most any alliterative utterance you share, it’s helpful, initially, if you accentuate the repeated sound. And then repeat that sound in more words.
To model the sound of /p/, for example, you might say and repeat alliterative phrases, such as pea pod, pokey piggy, and peppy peppy puppy. Or say the familiar rhyme about Peter Piper who picked a peck of pickled peppers. Similarly, to model /b/, try bubbly bubbles, bigger bubbles, bathing bubbly baby or the rhyme about Betty Botter who bought a bit of bitter butter. Make up alliterative phrases of your own.
For your infant who’s not yet saying particular sounds, you’ll want to think of The Sounds Game much like when you’re introducing a new WOW! Word––focus on the new sound for a week or more, and continue its use when you add another sound.
When your infant actively participates, the results may be coos or squeals or shrieks. You’ll notice intensity in his work. It may seem as though that sound is truly coming all the way from his toes, up and up, through his middle, up and up, and finally out of his mouth.
Oh, oh! He’ll show you his surprise and his excitement. He’ll like it when you clap or cheer or otherwise applaud his efforts. Then, over time and with your modeling and his practice, those sounds will begin to take shape. His first recognizable word! You’ll announce it as though the sound has just come all the way from your own toes!
The Sounds Game is a trademark of Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz.