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Language and Communication use single words signs or symbols 1  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


Pupils use a range of single words, gesture, signs, or symbols for familiar objects and actions.

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Early years skill:Speaking
Early years typical range:8-20m
P-scales/Curriculum skill:English Speaking
P-scales/Curriculum level:P4
TAP skill:Expressive Language
TAP level:TAP24
Pre/Nat. Curriculum Area:not specified
Pre/Nat. Curiculum Standard:not specified
Section:Early Years (0-5yrs) info; Primary (5-11yrs) info
Activity/strategy name and materials required How to do the activity Key principles for doing the activity and comments
Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) symbols

Child will exchange a PECS symbol for a desired item e.g. food or high interest toy.

Put out a desirable food item or toy and a symbol to represent it. Help the child give you the symbol for the item and then allow the child to take the item. When the child takes the item say, for example ' want biscuit.'

PECS is a special process and help from a trained Speech and Language Therapist to set up the process is essential.

Give the child time

Use very little language

The child is rewarded for handing over the symbol by getting the desired item

Dressing game with soft toys and clothing items

Use toy clothes and a teddy/dolly. Put the teddy in front of the child and a choice of two clothing items e.g. hat and shoes. Say' Teddy wants shoes.' Help the child to select shoes and allow the child to dress the teddy or help if needed. Repeat 'Teddy's'.

Continue with different clothing items. When the child is familiar with some clothing names give the child more items of clothing to choose from.

Some times it is physically easier to take cloths off than to put them on - adapt the game for taking off!

Have fun with this game!

Tea party with soft toys and plastic food

Use a teddy or doll or puppet and plastic food. Follow a similar procedure as above. Put the teddy in front of the child and 2 food items. Say 'Teddy wants banana ............'etc.

Play this game with puppets who can eat (or spit out) food items. You can make lots of eating type noises!

Bathing teddy and dolly

Washable toys

Wash cloths


Shaving foam

Drying towel

Similar procedure to above. Use a sponge/flannel and bath the toy in a sink. Say 'Wash teddy's face/foot/nose etc' 'Look ....washing teddy's foot'.

Squirt shaving foam on a toy's body part and name and let the child wash the toy. As the child washes say 'Look .........washing teddy's hand' etc

Get the child to tell you where to put the shaving foam. Say 'Foam on teddy's.........?' with a questioning tone.

Plastic animals and a toy house or farm

Give the child a choice of 2/3 animals and 'Cow in the farm' and 'dog in the farm' etc. Can the child tell you what animal to put in the farm?

Language Steps Programme for learning single words

When the child is able to name some of the items from the games above - say 10 or 15 items - move onto using the paper based language learning programme and following their Instructions.

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