It is generally acknowledged that play has the potential to provide young learners with a meaningful context for developing their language abilities either in their native language or in a foreign language. Play can help develop language skills and research in the field of play-based learning showed that games benefit language development impacting on vocabulary acquisition and the development of listening and speaking skills. Play creates a context favorable to learning as it lowers anxiety and children feel highly motivated.
So, how can one develop a play-based learning curriculum? First of all, one has to decide on the topics to teach. Then, the next step is to find the right materials/toys/games to present the topics and practise the language taught.
Basically any toy can be integrated in a play-based curriculum if used properly. I tend to choose Lego over other toys because I can use the bricks for a longer period of time and most importantly I can combine the bricks from different sets, enhancing thus children’s imagination. LEGO has been known for developing children’s language skills and cognitive abilities and if used from an early age, one can really see the benefits in terms of language development, creativity and imagination.
Here is a list of all the toys/materials/games I’ve used so far with toddlers and very young learners, depending on the topic to be taught but also on children’s age.
- Duplo Story Tales
- Lego Story Starter
- Lego Duplo classic
- Plush toys
- Hand puppets
- Colouring books
- Memory games
- Sorting and stacking toys