Activities to Build Receptive Language Skills in Children

Receptive language skills refer to the ability of an individual to understand verbal and non-verbal language. It includes following instructions, understanding gestures/facial expressions,  comprehending basic concepts, answering questions, and identifying vocabulary. Receptive language skills typically begin developing from infancy as children learn to distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar sounds. Since responding to language is a significant part of social interactions, it’s important to support children to acquire such skills.

Here are a few activities you can do at home to build receptive language skills:

Board Games

Skill: Following Directions

Use fun board games which can build receptive vocabulary and teach children to follow directions. Use simple instructions according to the language level of the child. Board games targeting specific categories or word groups can help improve comprehension. For example, prepositions, action words, classroom words, etc can be taught using themed board games with the corresponding vocabulary.

Click on the picture below to get a free downloadable fun board game to help children understand and follow directions:

Art and Crafts

Skill: Sequencing

 Teach your child to draw something simple like a flower, an apple or a stick figure. Explain the sequence of drawing and use the activity to target vocabulary related to shapes, colours, and spatial concepts.

For example, draw a stick figure together with your child. As you draw, explain each step using corresponding vocabulary. Here are some examples of receptive words and concepts that can be taught during drawing.

 First draw a circle.

Then draw a big line below the circle.

Then draw a small line to the left of the big line.

Then draw a small line to the right of the big line.

Mealtime

Skill: Identifying Vocabulary

Meal times can be an excellent time to build language skills. Ask children to set the table or help in serving food. 

Bring two forks.

Put the pan in the sink

Get the big orange cup

Pass the carrots please

You can also describe the object – function, category, size or the shape of the object.

Get me something to drink water

Can you pass the vegetable please?

Get me something to clean the table.

Give me the bigger spoon.

Use everyday activities and fun games to develop the receptive language skills of children.  Reading books with pictures gives an excellent opportunity to teach a lot of descriptive words and also helps in encouraging children to answer questions. Using picture recipes for cooking and playing games such as ‘I Spy’ and ‘Simon Says’ are also great ways to help children develop their language skills.

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