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Language and Communication Use two key word phrases to give instructions  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


Use two key word phrases to give instructions - for example using barrier games to make giving instructions verbally (or with some other method) essential.

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Early years skill:Speaking
Early years typical range:16-26m
P-scales/Curriculum skill:English Speaking
P-scales/Curriculum level:P5
TAP skill:Expressive Language
TAP level:TAP30
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
Barrier games

Felt sheets (e.g. "Funky Foam") in basic colours.

Digital camera.

Examples of other materials you could use:

small coloured bricks in different shapes with some proportionately sized cars or animals;

small soft toys with plastic food items.

How to make the game:

1. Choose your subject e.g. house & setting; face; person with top, trousers & shoes.

2. Make a simple pattern and cut the main features from the felt in two or more different colours e.g. 2 walls, 2 roofs, etc. (with garden items too if required).

3. Set up one house on a neutral background and photograph from above.

4. Change one feature and photograph again. Carry on until you have a set with a variety of combinations (10 cards or more). It is much easier to take the photos with extra background and edit them to fit 4 per A4 page afterwards. Avoid flash if any of your items are shiny.

5. Do not make the pictures too complicated and have some really simple ones, for example one just consisting of a red car, or one containing a flower and a tree;

6. Print your pictures on lightweight card.

7. Keep pictures and the materials used in a box together!

1. This game is best played in pairs;

2. Introduce the game by turning over a picture so the child/children can also see it;

3. Show them how to copy the picture using the materials: describe the picture using two word phrases as you do it;

4. Turn over another picture for a child to have a go;

5. Once you are sure the children understand how to make their "picture", turn over another card but this time describe what's on the card (with two word phrases) for them to make a picture/scene;

6. Players take it in turns to take a card and say what is on it so the other person can make it with their materials;

7. Many pictures can be described with two-word phrases e.g. blue eyes/ smiley mouth; green house/ yellow door; big brick/ car

Make sure that the children understand all the vocabulary you are using before starting this game.

A barrier game like this (where one player gives essential information to the other) demands that the speaker gives clear instructions. The listener has to understand, and do something (which the speaker can assess as being correct or not).

The game lets the adult judge just how clearly the child is speaking!

As the adult player, be careful you construct what the child is describing facing the child. Most young children cannot check the construction against their photo if it isn't facing them - the adult must make the adjustment!

This idea can be adapted to work on:

colour and noun;

size and noun;

number and shape;

preposition and shape;

and increased in complexity by adding in more detail e.g. if there are big blue eyes and small blue eyes; a metal car and a wooden car.

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