Five language activities for children with hearing loss of any age at any language level

If you are looking for fun, no-fail language activities, you’ve come to the right place.  These five activities can be used to practice vocabulary and elicit a variety of language structures for students with hearing loss at any age.

  1. Experience stories – Take pictures during a nature walk, field trip or science experiment.  Use the pictures to make a book and have the child dictate the language used in the experience.  Children love to see themselves and their friends in the pictures and will want to share the book with others, getting multiple opportunities to practice the target language structures and vocabulary.   Check out this blog post for examples of experience stories.
  2. Role plays – Use role plays to retell stories using targeted language. Choose simple books with characters that have dialogue with other characters.  Good ones for younger kids are The Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Little Red Hen and Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  Add some props to make the activity more fun!  Older kids may like books from the Frog and Toad series or chapters from Pippi Longstocking and Charlotte’s Web.
  3. Games – Teacher- and commercial-made games are a great way to practice syntax and pragmatic language. Practice turn-taking, asking and answering questions, vocabulary and more with games such as Candyland and Memory.  Adapt a commercial-made game by replacing the cards with your targeted language.  To review question forms and vocabulary using Candyland with older students, have each student roll a die and answer a question written on a card (e.g., have a student ask Jane if she knows the definition of a gas and what it is).  If the student answers correctly, she can move that amount of spaces on the board.
  4. Pretend Experiences – Setting up experiences for students to pretend can help with listening and language when the actual experience occurs. Create a restaurant and practice ordering from the menu, role playing each part (e.g., server, customer, chef).  With older students, practice ordering pizza.  You’ll give students the opportunity to practice vocabulary, syntax and pragmatic language while listening in a quieter setting.  The real fun can happen if you make the pretend experience a real one.
  5. Art – Cutting, gluing, painting and drawing can be taken up a notch when you use it as a language activity. Have children ask each other for their art materials and say what they will do with it.  By the end, they will have a beautiful art project while practicing vocabulary and language along the way.

Whether you teach younger or older kids with hearing loss or they use simple or complex language, these fun and easy activities will guarantee successful language lessons.  Try one tomorrow.  I’m sure your students will be asking to do them again!

Jennifer Manley served as a classroom teacher for students ages 3 to 12 at CID – Central Institute for the Deaf. She currently works in professional development giving presentations on auditory development and is co-author of CID SPICE for Life, an auditory learning curriculum and author of the 2nd edition of CID SPICE.

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