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Language and Communication use descriptive language to describe objects  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


Use descriptive language to describe an object so that a peer can guess what it is.

Early years skill:not specified
Early years typical range:not specified
P-scales/Curriculum skill:Scientific Enquiry
P-scales/Curriculum level:L1
TAP skill:Language (old categories)
TAP level:TAP60
Pre/Nat. Curriculum Area:not specified
Pre/Nat. Curiculum Standard:not specified
Section:Primary (5-11yrs) info; Secondary (11-16yrs) info
Activity/strategy name and materials required How to do the activity Key principles for doing the activity and comments
What's in the bag?


Either two sets of pictures or a set of objects and a set of matching pictures (can be related to class topics).

Description prompt cards (cards with questions like "what do you do with it?", "what is it made of?", "what does it look like?").

Score chart (optional)

1. Explain that you are all going to take it in turns to describe something from the bag. All the others must listen to the description and guess what the item is.

2. Set out the pictures as a visual prompt.

3. Take it in turns to describe an object, making sure you keep it out of sight. Use the description prompt cards to help.

4. If someone is able to guess what the object is, the describer gets a point.

To make this harder, do not use the second set of pictures as a prompt.

You will need to use just one or two description prompt cards at first, building up to using the whole set.

When new to this game, some children may just say the name of the object before saying anything about it - in this case you might need to ask a question such as "What do you do with it?" before they have a chance to say the object's name.

Treasure Hunt

Objects to hide around the room (optional)

Description prompt cards.

Score chart (optional)

1. Either place objects around the room, or make sure there are suitable things to describe in the room already.

2. Explain that one child is going to choose something to describe, the others are going to listen and guess what it is. (Either let all the other children guess together, or have them take it in turns to be the one to listen and guess.)

3. The 'listener' must go and get the object when they have guessed it correctly.

4. If the describer is able to describe the object successfully they get a point.

Make sure the describer does not point at the object or stare at it!

Present list hints

Pictures of toys or other things the children would like as presents (Argos catalogues are good, or other catalogues)

Description prompt cards

Score chart (optional)

1. Explain that you are going to take it in turns to try and get your friends to understand one of the things you would like on your present list. The problem is, you are not allowed to say the name of the item. You need to describe it and help them to guess what you want.

2. Have a selection of pictures for them to look at and choose from.

3. Each child takes a turn at choosing an item (note, the picture stays with all the others), and describes it to the other children. Use the description prompt cards to help.

4. If they are successful, they get a point.

It might be best to use this activity before an occasion when the child is likely to get presents, such as birthday, Christmas / Eid or other festival, etc.


Commercial 'Taboo!' game


Set of cards with 'Don't say...' header on them, and space to write a word underneath

Objects or pictures of items.

1. If you are using the commercial Taboo game, play as suggested. You may need to change some rules - see opposite.

2. If you are using your own version, use the cards with or without the 'Don't say....' header and a set of objects or pictures. Write down the name of one object / picture on each card.

3. Put all the objects / pictures out so all the children can see them.

4. The children take it in turns to take a card. They have to describe the object without using the word on the card. (Use the description prompt cards to help.)

5. They get a point if someone guesses what they are describing.

If you are using the commercial Taboo! Game, you may need to adapt how you play it to make it easier. The main adaptations are to not use the timer, and go through the cards to check that the words are ones the children will know.

Using your own version:

To make it harder, put more words per object on the card of words they cannot say. You could also introduce a timer, but only if the children are very confident - this is not a test!

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