Engaging Early Language Learners

If there is one thing I have learned, it is that my earliest language learners will NOT just sit nicely at a table or at circle time and say their words/sounds. They need to move and interact and somehow be involved. They like to see completion and know they are done. They need a lot of visual support including visual communication books.

Here are some tips for engaging early language learners:

1. Songs and finger plays. When I can get a student to sing along with me on a repetitive chorus, I am ecstatic.

2. Play. Play based therapy rocks.

3. Tactile objects. We love to put things in, on, under, around. Throughout February, we were using puff balls to be “snowballs” and placing them in/out/under/between cups.

4. Work systems. This is a brand new thing that I’m trying out based on the success of my awesome colleague. I’ve had a few students that are already catching on and understanding that they do 2 bins then get a choice break. Hurray!

5. Books. The best books for these learners are books that involve the senses. I love puzzle books, pop-up books, tactile books, and hidden flaps books. The more that can be touched and moved on each page, the better!

6. File folder activities. I like these because there is a very concrete beginning and end. The students are engaged and get to pull things off and place them in a different spot. They also work beautifully with the new work systems because I can place one file folder activity in each bin!

early language

In an effort to engage my students more with file folder activities, I have created a few more! Check out my newest creations: What is in the….? and Seasonal Dress Up.

Screenshot 2015-03-03 19.32.37 “What is in the …?” is a great way to work on functional vocabulary, asking questions, answering questions, learning preposition “in”, and expanding utterances. These activities are hands-on, colorful, and great for early language learners!

Included in this download are the printables for you to create 5 file-folder activities:
What is in the backpack? (school supply vocabulary)
What is in the basket? (laundry vocabulary)
What is in the cart? (grocery store vocabulary)
What is in the dishwasher? (kitchen vocabulary)
What is in the lunch box (lunch vocabulary)

2015-03-02 19.52.02And my second new creation is…

Screenshot 2015-03-03 19.52.34

“Seasonal Dress Up” is a great way to work on vocabulary: seasonal, weather, clothing, descriptive. It is also designed to foster asking and answering questions through increasing utterance length. These activities are highly motivating because they are hands-on, colorful, and fun! They are great for early language learners!

Included in this download are the printables for you to create 4 seasonal file-folder activities:

Screenshot 2015-03-04 19.47.16

Here are some set up videos that my daughter and I made to show you how to put together and use these activities:

Interested in the communication flip book?

Grab your own copy HERE!

I hope you enjoy these activities as much as my students and I do!

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  1. I love your idea! I tried to purchase it but get a TPT message that there is a minimum charge of $3 per order. I actually tried using TPT points and then removed that but I still get the error message.

    1. It’s a TpT rule that there must be at least $3 worth of items in your cart to check out. it’s sometimes a bummer!

  2. CC- I LOVE LOVE.LOVE your communication book layout!!!! Do you have a post on that for the contents on each page?

    1. Melissa Demuth says:

      I too LOVE the communication book. I enjoy how it seems to combine a PODD comprehensiveness and accessibility with an easier way to use–PODDs can be very bulky. Please pass along the communication book info, please. Or, direct me to a post about it. Thanks!

      1. I just put up my post about this today! Look for the post in my blog now 🙂

  3. Love file folder ideas. Portable and ready to use! Purchased both items. Can you give me more information about the AAC pages that you show in the top picture where the child is playing with an “animal puzzle book”? Did you create those? Do you sell them in your TpT store? Thanks so much!

    1. I did create them, but cannot del because of Boardmaker copyright issues. I will write a future post showing them in detail. Thanks for your interest!

  4. I purchased both the Seasonal Dress-Up and What’s in the… activities. However, when I downloaded them, the What’s in the… activity was blank, nothing was there to open. The Seasonal Dress-Up activity worked just fine, and will be a great activity with my early learners. Help!

    1. Hi Rebecca, I’m stumped. Several people have said the same thing but when I download them from Tpt, there are no issues. I have contacted TpT support to see if they can help. Can you do me a favor and contact them as well? Maybe this can get resolved faster if multiple people are asking. Thanks! 🙂

    2. I have it fixed! It turns out that PCs don’t like question marks in titles. So I took off the question mark, and I think it will work now.

      1. It works!! Thank you so much 🙂

  5. They do work systems in the early childhood classrooms where I sub. The kids seem to enjoy it. File folder games are great also! I think the kids like the Velcro!

  6. GREAT information! I bought both of your products and love them! I’m wondering tho, what book are you using in the first picture? It looks really cute. Thanks!

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