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How to teach your child new words and sounds at your Local Farmer’s Market in Edmonton!

Teach child new words and sounds at kid and family activities at farmers market in Edmonton

Have you and your family checked out the Farmers' Market around Edmonton? This is the perfect family activity as it can involve all ages. Edmonton is home to many indoor and outdoor farmers markets. Indoor markets are great because they are accessible at any time of the year. During the spring and summer there are even more outdoor markets.

There are lots of different exciting things to do with the opportunity to support local businesses while practicing communication skills in a different context! In particular, the Edmonton Downtown Farmers' Market has many kid friendly activities such as drawing workshops, caricatures, and a small library! Since Mother’s and Father’s Day is approaching, you can find lots of unique gifts for your loved ones with your children! Depending on the age and your child’s abilities will vary depending on the type of strategy you may use. Keep reading to learn how you can teach your child speech and language at your next farmers' market outing in Edmonton, AB!

Below are the places in which you can visit either all year round or at certain times. Check this link out for times and locations all around Edmonton and the Edmonton area. 

How to Teach Your Baby and Toddler New Words and Sounds

Use these suggestions to teach your baby and toddler new words and speech sounds. These tips are best for children at the beginning stage (9 months - 2 years old).

1. Use Gestures and Baby Signing

While walking through the market, there may be several opportunities that will require your child to communicate with you for either attention or access to certain things. Gestures/signing can be done while you say functional words. Functional words are words used every day in different contexts and help to complete a goal. For example, words like “yes” and “no” are considered functional words because children can use these words to express their wants and needs. Also, when modeling these core words to your children it can help to build a more solid foundation for communication and can prompt them to use new words. When pairing a gesture/sign with a verbal, functional word it helps to present a visual representation to connect with the word. Farmers markets are busy places with lots of noises. It  may be helpful to have a visual representation for these words! 

Here are links for gestures you can teach your child while navigating through the busy Farmer’s Market! 

  • Open (e.g. open door, open container)

  • There will probably not be many doors available as Farmers’ Markets usually are a wide area with multiple vendors in one area. However, there will be opportunities in which your child may require assistance in opening certain items they’ve bought or food that they want to try. By having to ask for help it is a great opportunity for some practice using gestures with a functional word that they will need to use in other settings. 

  • Try (e.g. try samples) 

  • As there are lots of samples available, it may also be a good idea to introduce your child to different and new foods (if appropriate). If your child likes to try something new or if you would like them to try something, suggest to them by gesturing “try” while pointing to the sample. This provides the opportunity to try something new while learning a functional word that can be used in other settings. 

  • More (e.g. more food)

  • If they like something, they might request for more. Gesturing alongside the verbal response of “more”, especially if the farmer’s market is loud and busy, can help reinforce the use of the word and gesture to be used in other settings.

2. Things Out of Reach or Limited Access

Lots of items and products within a setting like the Farmer’s Market means lots of things that are out of sight or reach like yummy samples or interesting products on shelves. However, this can also be the perfect opportunity for them to initiate communication especially when asking for help or access. This is important as it can motivate them to complete a goal. Ask them, “What do you want?” and provide enough time for them to process and articulate their requests.

3. Providing Choices

As the Farmers’ Market may be overwhelming, you may offer them choices of what they would like to try or look at. Presenting a forced choice creates an opportunity in which they can focus on a smaller set of options to choose from and can help to be less overwhelming, especially in a setting like the Farmers’ Market. After giving them choices, pause for them to verbalize in response. Providing choices also gives your child opportunities to express their preferences and practice using their words! Some examples include, 

  • White or dark fudge?

  • Juice or hot chocolate?

  • Picture or the toy? 

4. Talk Lots!

The Farmers’ Market is an opportunity in which many different things are in their immediate environment with lots of opportunities to describe the things around you.

Model slightly longer sentences: You can try to add to their current ability by using sentences that are slightly longer than what they are saying now. If they are talking in one to two-word sentences, you will want to use two to three-word sentences when you talk to them. If they use two or three-word sentences, you can use longer sentences. For example, you might say “The Farmer’s Market is busy today! Pause.”

Talking a lot to your child plays an important role in the development of your child’s vocabulary breadth. Vocabulary breadth refers to the number of words your child knows and the size of their vocabulary. Describing the environment around them is a simple way to encourage language development because children learn through exposure. When you talk a lot to your child, it expands the number of words they’re exposed to and helps them learn faster! 

Here are some tips when you’re trying to talk more to your child to expand their vocabulary: 

How to teach child new words speech therapy Edmonton Chatty Therapy Speech language Pathologists
  • Provide lots of pauses and space so your child has time to understand what you say and then formulate a response. 

  • Use multiple ways to describe words: For example, when we describe the temperature of a drink, there can be multiple ways in which we can describe it. For example, when we think of the word “cold”, we also understand that other words can be referred such as “freezing, ice-cold, chilly”.

  • Model statements rather than questions. Asking too many questions can be overwhelming to children. Try to comment and then provide pauses for your child to add input if they feel like it. Commenting and leaving space creates a low-pressure opportunity for your child to participate in the conversation without placing extra pressure on them. For example, instead of saying “What is that?” You can say “Wow, I see a bunch of blue and pink flowers.” or “There’s so many kinds of bread. My favourite is sourdough!” 

Use this sheet we’ve created to help guide on how to use the five sense to expand on describing language!

How to Teach Your Child New Words and Sounds (3+ years old)

These tips are great teaching your older child new words at a stage when they're talking lots. Using these strategies will set them up for success with conversations, reading and writing!

1. Speech Clarity and Articulation

Common speech sound mistakes and incorrect words used by children speech therapy Chatty Therapy Speech Language Pathologists

There may be certain sounds that your child is either using a different sound in place or not clearly. Some common sounds children have difficulties with include s, l, r, th, f, k, ch, or sh. To support their articulation, you can incorporate either by exaggerating the sound after they make an error. This is important as it helps to build awareness when the sound occurs in different words. For example, while at the Farmers’ Market your child might incorrectly use the “ch” sound and say, “There’s ttteese!” You might help correct them by following up with, “Yes, there’s chhheese!” Or it can be done in a more interactive way such as on the drive to the Farmers’ market, you may initiate a competition of thinking for certain words that start with the letter “ch”. For example, “chhhhocolate, chhhoo chhhoo train, chhhherry.” If possible, you may also prompt them to think of things they might see at the Farmer’s Market.

Look at this word list for the common speech sound errors and different words they can use to practice! You can use this word list when going to the Farmers’ Market or even school.

2. Increasing Vocabulary Depth

Try a more challenging version of “I Spy” on the drive to your destination to increase your child's vocabulary depth. Vocabulary depth refers to your child’s rich understanding of a word and how the concept of the word relates to other words. For example, you access your understanding of vocabulary depth when you draw connections between a water glass and a travel mug (because they both hold drinks). Or when you understand that a blanket is related to a pillow (because they’re both soft and they’re both used when we sleep). Targeting our children’s vocabulary depth improves their reading comprehension and writing skills because greater vocabulary depth allows children to draw connections between different words, concepts, and ideas which is foundational for understanding figurative language, literary devices, comparisons, and associations in writing. 

When your child gives clues: While you’re playing “I Spy”, you can support your child by asking descriptive follow-up questions based on category and function. For example, if they are trying to have you guess “flowers” and they say “I spy with my little eyes something that is white”, you could expand further by asking “Does it smell nice? Does it taste sweet? Does it feel soft?”. Using these describing questions, your child develops a deeper understanding of how to represent the concept of flowers in their mind. After that, you can talk about other items that are similar and related to the first object. To extend the first example, you can brainstorm other objects that also smell nice, taste sweet, and feel soft! This will help your child further develop the vocabulary connections between “flower” and other words in their environment. 

As another example, say your child picks “juice” as the item they want you to guess. After guessing correctly, you can further expand on the concept of juice by describing its function as a cold drink when we’re thirsty, the sweet taste, the translucent colour, and how juice can be refreshing on a warm, sunny day. We can also further expand by connecting milk with apple juice because they are both cold and are drinks. Then we can contrast them because apple juice, comes from apples which is a fruit, and milk comes from a cow which is an animal. Keep your child entertained while expanding their vocabulary! 

When you give clues to your child: When it is your turn to give I Spy clues about an object, don’t give clues that relate to color. Use this opportunity to enhance your child’s vocabulary instead! Try to give clues that relate to the object’s characteristics, descriptions, categories, or functions. Providing more advanced clues will help increase your child’s vocabulary depth. 

Playing “I Spy” is a great way to expand your child’s vocabulary depth and concepts of the words. Clues that involve characteristics, descriptions, categories, or functions will encourage your child to think of different words that might be related to your clue. When they are brainstorming different answers, they are strengthening their mental associations and connections between these words. This increases their vocabulary depth. For example, if you give the clue: “I spy with my little eyes, something that is… refreshing”. Your child will try to think of all the different items that are all refreshing: cold water, soda pop, popsicle, juice, apple, fresh crisp air outside. This indirectly helps them connect those different words with the concept of “refreshing”. In the future, if they read a sentence like “that conversation was like a gulp of cold water on a hot summer day” they will be able to understand that the conversation was very refreshing and positive. 

Playing “I Spy” with more complicated clues provides a fun opportunity for you to teach and explain different functions and connections between words that your child is thinking about or interested in. 

3. Ask More Discussion Questions

For older children, you can also help to advance their language skills by asking them to describe the steps it takes to create a final product by asking a WH questions or a How question. For example, if your child loves to eat popcorn, you might ask them “How do you make popcorn?”. Asking them this question requires them to think about the order of steps and to elaborate on something they’re already interested in. If they’re unsure of where to start, you might prompt them by suggesting that popcorn starts as the vegetable corn that grows in a farm or garden.

Other examples can include, “Where do carrots come from?” “How are flowers grown?”  A possible explanation you can provide is also comparing how carrots and flowers grow. For example, you may explain that flowers can grow from the ground as well as from a tree whereas carrots can only be grown from the ground! Having these discussions helps your child's cognitive and language processing because it strengthen their ability to draw connections and make predictions. The best learning happens when you and your child have low pressure conversations about words and things they see around them.

Another option may be that at the end of the day, you might ask them to describe what they did during the day. This will also require them to think about the steps it took to get to the farmer’s market, what they did there, what they ate or saw, and how they got back home. Imagining the day’s events or the steps it takes to make popcorn, encourages using complete sentences as well as thinking about the correct order of steps. 


Chatty Therapy is based in Edmonton, AB. We have wonderful speech-language pathologists who can give you more specific ideas on how to work with your child to develop their language skills and tailor it to your daily routine. Speech-language pathologists specialize in helping children understand others and express themselves better. Click here to learn more about our services or book a free 15-minute consultation.

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