Play-based learning: How to create your own language-rich environment this summer

There has been a lot of talk lately about the Ontario government’s move towards providing full-day kindergarten and incorporating a play-based curriculum.  A play-based curriculum means that children learn through play.  The idea behind this is that when children are given the opportunity to explore an exciting and stimulating environment, they will learn without even realising they are learning. 

You can create your own stimulating environment for your child at home.  Try this activity to create a language-rich environment while doing a simple, inexpensive craft:


Play dough Ingredients:

  • ½ cup salt
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup flour
  • food colouring (optional)

Language ingredients:

  • Action words (verbs): Talk about how you are pouring the ingredients, mixing them together, stirring with a spoon, squishing, rolling, patting, poking, and cutting the play-dough.
  • Description words (adjectives): Discuss how the play-dough feels sticky or squishy. Roll a ball and make it smooth.  Touch the water and talk about how it is wet, and contrast that to the dry flour.
  • Location words (prepositions): Maybe the flour is beside the salt, on the table.  The ingredients go in the bowl.  Make a tree out of your play-dough and a person to go under the tree.
  • People, places or things (nouns): This can be almost anything!  Names of the ingredients, the tools you are using, the objects you are building, the names of those participating, names of shapes, numbers etc…..      


  • Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
  • Choose a word or two to focus on from each type listed above.
  • Use those words 5 or more times during the activity.
  • Encourage your child to actively participate, by doing, asking, feeling, and commenting.

 For more information on Ontario’s play-based curriculum visit:

Written by: Jana Zalmanowitz, Speech-Language Pathologist, The Speech Therapy Centres of Canada. (


3 responses to “Play-based learning: How to create your own language-rich environment this summer

  1. Hi Jane!
    Thank you so much for taking the time to share your talents with parents and guiding us through the intricacies of speech and language! I thought this blog on creating a rich language enviroment would be a great place to share the use of music as well. I am music therapist and started singing to my daughter who is diagnosed with Apraxia in order to facilitate and encourage her language development in a fun and success oriented way. The first CD is called Sing Out and focuses on the bilabials and the second is Ta-Da which focuses on some of the avelors. Although the CD is fun for listening, I encourage parents to learn the songs and sing with their kiddos during various activities of the day. The songs are also slightly slowed to allow for some think time. You can hear some samples at
    Thank you for reading!

  2. Home run! Great suliggng with that answer!

  3. To think, I was cnoufesd a minute ago.

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