We’ll be updating these pages with information, resources and guides over the coming weeks.
Check the Latest news page for new content or click on the headings below to see what is available.
For the duration of the lockdown, PhonicsPlay are providing free access to their resources.
The Oxford Owl website (from Oxford University Press) has a wealth of resources for teaching and reading. They include free ebooks (Biff, Chip and Kipper and Winnie the Witch) and lots more. Get exploring here.
Try something a little different with CoolMath Games.
ABC Teach is an American website where you can print free worksheets and flashcards covering all subjects.
SENTeacher.co.uk has learning materials that are free to share and use in schools or at home. The print tools on the site allow you to create, adapt and share teaching resources for a wide-range of abilities.
The MES English website has free resources designed to be versatile and useful across a broad spectrum of ages and levels.
There’s a selection of live animal webcams listed here if you want to check out what our furry, feathered and scaly friends are up to.
These ideas from our Information & Training team can also be downloaded in pdf format by clicking here.
Mealtimes can provide lots of opportunities to develop your child’s speech and language skills. You can find some suggestions below.
Ask your child to help with planning meals.
Offer verbal choices while holding up the food options for visual support. Would she like pasta or rice? Cereal or toast? An apple or a banana? Would she like two grapes, or three grapes?
Name the foods you and your child are eating, or see if he can remember the names of foods.
Talk about what different family members are eating. Talk about what you might eat for different meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, for a birthday, on a picnic, etc). Talk about the foods that different types of animals might eat.
To extend basic vocabulary, talk about the colour and size of the food.
Compare sizes of foods (which is big/bigger – a potato or a pea?). Can your child match foods that are the same colour – such as a carrot and an orange; a tomato and a red apple; a cucumber and some broccoli? Ask your child to describe how the food tastes or smells. Is it a crunchy apple or a smooth mushroom? Is it a hot pizza or a cold icecream? Is it a sweet cake or a savoury sausage? Is it yummy, tasty, delicious? When you stir the soup or chop the vegetables, ask your child if you should stir/chop ‘fast’ or ‘slow’?
You can encourage your child to use new verbs (with support from the family).
Start when you are preparing the food. Are you peeling, cutting, chopping, stirring, pouring, mixing, cooking, baking? When you are eating the food, you can talk about biting, nibbling, chewing and crunching. There are lots of verbs linked to food – maybe your family can think of some more!
A category is the bigger group that an item belongs to. For example, a banana is a fruit; and a sausage is meat.
You can pick a food category and see how many items you can think of for that group. Look at the food you are eating. Can your child find a vegetable? Some meat? A fruit? Something sweet? Something savoury?
Likes and dislikes
It is good to be able to talk about what we like and don’t like.
We can also learn to explain why. Do we not like the taste/flavour or texture? Do we love the smell? Talk about what types of food family members and friends like or don’t like. It’s good to learn to express opinions and understand that we don’t all like the same things.
Instructions and Number
Ask your child to help with making the food and getting everything ready.
You can use simple instructions with signed support, such as ‘where’s the table?’, working towards more complex instructions such as ‘please get knives and forks for everyone and set the table’. Ask your child to count how many people are in your family and see if she can tell you how many forks she will need to set the table. Give her too few forks, and support her to ask for ‘more forks please’; or ask her to tell you how many more forks she needs (depending on her language level). Give her too many spoons and ask her how many spoons are left when she has finished setting the table.
You can clap the syllables of different foods – e.g. ‘cheese’ (one clap); ‘pasta’ (two claps); ‘cucumber’ (three claps).
Talk about the initial (first) sounds of different foods. To make this task more visual, cut out pictures of different foods, or use real foods, and see if your child can match them to their initial sounds. For example, write the letters ‘p’ and ‘c’ on separate sheets of paper, and see if he can match pear, pasta, pizza, pineapple, porridge, etc. to the ‘p’; and cake, carrot, cucumber, cabbage, cookie, etc. to the ‘c’.
Sit down together for meals.
Turn off the TV, computer, iPad, phones. Take turns to tell each other something you have enjoyed during the day. Support your child to say ‘I like…..’, or to ask and answer questions, using sign if appropriate.
Our Advanced Clinical Specialist Speech & Language Therapist has put together a series of videos demonstrating some activities that will help to develop speech and communication skills. The activities are generally aimed at children, but their is no specific age range. Click below to to see the eight videos.
The ‘Hello’ Song
The ‘Hello’ song is very important because it provides a clear cue to the child that the learning session is beginning, and helps the child to feel welcome, special and included. It can also make the structured learning environment feel fun and accessible, and can encourage the child’s confidence.
Turn Taking Activity
Many children benefit from opportunities to practise taking turns. This skill is the foundation of communication and developing friendships.
It supports our children’s attention span and understanding of language, as well as their ability to participate, share, wait, make choices, anticipate, negotiate, play games and solve problems. Turn taking also promotes independence, self regulation and general awareness.
Taking turns with a physical object makes turn taking very concrete and visible.
Identifying Facial Expressions
It’s very important that our children learn to recognise their own and other people’s feelings, and to link feelings with experiences. Teaching emotion words works best in the context of everyday life.
You can label and sign feelings (such as happy, sad, cross, excited, frustrated, disappointed) when your child or another person is experiencing the emotion.
In this film, Gwen works with Selma to identify four feelings by facial expression, and then begin to link a feeling to an experience.
We are frequently asked which toys and games families should buy to support their children’s language skills at home. There are many fantastic resources available, but the most simple toys can be very effective and are often the most versatile.
In this clip, Selma and Gwen are playing together with a squeaky pig toy. We are using this simple toy to practise engagement and attention, turn taking, making choices, copying, following simple instructions, and understanding and saying a range of language concepts (on, up, down), body parts, counting, some early verbs (jump, sleep, help), and animal sounds.
Simple Instruction in Sequence
This film shows Selma working on a number of skills, including turn taking, waiting, sequential thought, and using language to give instructions in sequence. She is working on understanding and using the concepts ‘up’, ‘down’, and ‘top’, and she is beginning to understand the question ‘who?’ and negatives (e.g. ‘hasn’t’).
Selma is also working on saying the consonant sounds ‘p’ and ‘k’ at the end of single syllable words (e.g. ‘up’, ‘top’, ‘stop’, ‘peck’, ‘pink’, ‘shake’). She is practising some fine motor skills including isolating her thumb and using a pincer grip.
Speech Sound Activity
Selma is working on speech sounds while incorporating a range of other skills into the same activity. She is working on saying sounds at the end of words. The words have been chosen because they are functional and are included in her vocabulary targets.
You will see that Selma is practising turn taking, and that her teaching assistant and our Speech and Language Therapist take the first two turns so that the targeted skill has been modelled twice before Selma takes her turn.
We are also working on making choices, naming colours, using the concept ‘first’, and understanding negatives (e.g. ‘haven’t’). The buzzers in the activity are great fun, and we use them as rewards/reinforcers for a variety of speech sound activities, as well as a range of other learning tasks!
This film shows Selma participating in a composite activity that targets a number of skills. We call this a ‘language immersion’ activity.
You will see Selma practising waiting, listening, anticipating, making choices, and turn taking skills. As usual, Selma takes the third turn so that the task has been modelled for her twice before she is asked to take part.
The activity incorporates feelings/emotion words and food vocabulary, as well as body part vocabulary and isolating the thumb (a pre-pencil grip skill). We are also working on understanding and using short spoken phrases, and using signs and sentence starters to prompt spoken language.
Selma is learning language concepts such as first, big/little, quick/slow, high/low; and prepositions such as in, on, under, behind. She is working on understanding and saying verbs, including eat, drink, jump, swing, sleep, fly.
The activity incorporates counting, ‘semantic links’ (what goes together? – ‘yogurt and spoon’) and syllable clapping. Selma is also practising short term visual memory skills (remembering what she has seen) and auditory memory skills.
Dr Rhonda Faragher from the University of Queensland, Australia, has shared ten top tips for teaching your child with Down’s syndrome at home. Click here to download the pdf.