Many of us provide elaborate parties for children under the age of 5 and then find that they are happy just ‘playing’. I’ve adapted my parties over the years. I found that before the age of 3 my children were happy to have one or 2 friends visit to play games and eat cake. Even when they were a little older they mostly enjoyed a few crafts, games and dancing.
According to a recent study by I CAN the communication charity, my children are not unusual. In a survey of 1500 parents they found that the top 5 party pursuits for under-5’s were:-
- Dancing games like Musical Chairs, Musical Statues and Musical Bumps
- Party games like Pass the Parcel and Pin the Tail on the Donkey
- Playing outdoors with other children
- Eating party food
- Singing and rhyming games like the Hokey Cokey and Row, Row, Row Your Boat
I CAN Communication Advisor, Kate Freeman said “The top five activities all involve communicating and socialising with their friends – from pass the parcel, which boosts turn-taking and listening skills to singing and rhyming games like the Hokey Cokey. This type of activity enhances children’s understanding of the structure and meaning of language – and there is no better environment for a child to develop their confidence than with a group of friends and adults in a relaxed and fun setting like a party”. Furthermore, mealtimes and snack times are a fantastic opportunity for young children to continue to develop communication skills.
Fun games to play at parties to develop children’s communication skills include:
- Singing and rhyming songs – a great way to help children learn vocabulary and have fun making music together
- Playing clapping games (Pat-a-Cake) – to help children to develop their coordination, control and movement as well as learning vocabulary and social skills
- Word Games (Simon Says and I Spy) – to help to develop children’s vocabulary about the world around them and to listen to instructions (These games can be adapted to easier versions for younger children)
- Turn taking games (Pass the Parcel) – to help children to learn when to talk and when to listen
- Games like musical statues to encourage children to listen carefully. Listening skills can be developed further by saying ‘Stop’ in a quiet voice instead of pausing the music.
- Imaginative play like toys’ tea parties help children to expand their language.
When I was teaching in nurseries we often used to play ‘ring games’ like ‘Farmers in the Den’ and ‘Hokey Cokey’ if we had bad weather and it was difficult for the children to play outside. They were always a firm favourite. The children also loved playing picnics or tea parties.
I CAN is inviting nurseries, pre-schools, childminders or community groups to take part in their annual fun and educational event . This year I CAN is partnering with Entertainment One to make its pre-school character Humf the brand ambassador. The 2013 Chatterbox Challenge: Mad Chatter’s Tea Party with Humf asks groups to organise sponsored tea parties where children can join in with popular songs and rhymes to develop their communication skills in an enjoyable way. I organised an event years ago with my pre-school music group. We learned new songs and the children were awarded stickers and certificates for their achievements.
The singing and rhyming activities for the 2013 Chatterbox Challenge: Mad Chatter’s Tea Party with Humf have been developed by I CAN speech and language therapists and teachers. Lesson plans, which include Humf and his friends in the activities and illustrations, link to key aspects of the new Early Years Foundation Stage including Communication and Language, Physical Development, and Personal, Social and Emotional Development. All the activities are aimed at supporting and developing children’s speech and language skills.
Being involved with the Chatterbox Challenge: Mad Chatter’s Tea Party with Humf encourages children to think about communication, whilst helping support those who find talking and understanding difficult.
Chatterbox Challenge week is 1st – 8th March 2013 and most groups will be holding their Tea Party with Humf during this week, though groups can actually take part at any time during 2013.
To register and get involved in this year’s Chatterbox Challenge: Mad Chatter’s Tea Party with Humf, go to www.chatterboxchallenge.org.uk