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Language and Communication Two keyword understanding 1  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


Pupils follow requests and instructions containing two keywords, signs or symbols, for example 'Put the spoon in the dish', 'Give the book to Johnny'

Early years skill:Understanding
Early years typical range:16-26m
P-scales/Nat. Curriculum skill:English Listening
P-scales/Nat. Curriculum level:P5
TAP skill:Language Understanding
TAP level:TAP30
Section:Early Years (0-5yrs) info; Primary (5-11yrs) info
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Activity/strategy name and materials required How to do the activity Key principles for doing the activity and comments
Shopping games:

Everyday objects, bag.

Ask the child to go and 'buy' one and then two items.

If the child has difficulty following an instruction, replace the object in the original place and then show him what he should have done.

Start doing these activities with speech only (without a sign). If the child doesn't understand make a note of what you need to do to help him. It could be to repeat the sentence, or to use one or two signs for the key words, or to point to a finger for each key-word.


Two boxes, one with a picture of a monkey, another with a picture of cat. Cut a posting hole where the mouths are. Play food.

Introduce the monkey and cat saying they are very hungry.

Give instructions to the children such as 'Give Monkey the apple', 'Give the cat the banana'. Comment on what happened, for example 'Monkey ate the apple'.

At every stage of this activity the child needs to make choices between two items.


Tea-set, play food, doll, teddy.

At every stage of this activity the child needs to make choices between two items.

Bath time

Doll, teddy sponge towel

At every stage of this activity the child needs to make choices between two items.


Miniature figures, miniature furniture

At every stage of this activity the child needs to make choices between two items.

Giving out materials, collecting materials, tidy up

No specific materials

make sure the child already understands the names of the things you are asking for;

the child should need to understand and recall two keywords: so with the instruction 'give John the blocks' there must be at least two different children and a choice of at least two different things to give to John (for example blocks or paint);

if they have difficulties you can make it easier by: holding a finger up for each item you request; use a gesture or sign for one or both of the keywords; break the instruction down into two steps for each keyword (note this only requires one keyword and not two keyword understanding)


ball and group of children


ball and bean bag and two different coloured hoops


no specific materials and group of children


The instructions must contain two key words, so for example "throw the bean bag in the red hoop" has two key words because you could throw the bean bag or the ball and you could throw it in the red hoop or another coloured loop. !Note, if you also gave instructions like "John, throw the bean bag into the red hoop" that this contains three key words: John, "bean bag" and red. This will be too difficult for a child working at this level.

If the child gets it wrong, guide them to get it right, helping them with each part of the instruction. Do not keep just repeating the instruction if they are getting it wrong!

Signs and gestures may also help.


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