Wondering what winter event to check out with your kids this weekend? Edmonton has so many fun Christmas Markets. These markets are the perfect family-friendly outing. Christmas markets have lots of activities and decorations to see. Your child will love pointing out all the Christmas characters and amazing festive displays. This also makes Christmas markets the perfect place to use various speech and language strategies outside the home! Help your child’s vocabulary and communication skills while you spend family time together. In this post, we’ll share some easy ways you can help your children talk and communicate better. We’ll give you examples of how effortless it can be to integrate these strategies into your regular Christmas family outing!
Here are some Christmas events for kids happening in Edmonton, AB!
Location: Old Strathcona Performing Arts Centre, 8426 Gateway Blvd NW, Edmonton
When: December 16-17
Location: Fort Edmonton Park, 7000 143 St NW, Edmonton, AB
When: November 30- December 17
Location: Corner of 92 street & 118 avenue, 92 street 118 Ave, Edmonton
When: December 22 (4-8 pm), December 23 (Noon-8 pm), December 24 (Noon-4 pm)
Kids Activities At the Christmas Market Events in Edmonton
Pictures with Santa
Ride on horse drawn sleigh
Merry go around
Making your own sugar maple candy
Stands for holiday souvenirs and local goods
Food available: cinnamon buns, hot cocoa, pretzels, etc.
Dress for the Edmonton Winters! Getting Ready for the Christmas Market
Helping your child learn new words can start even before you even leave your house! Add this fun winter clothing dress-up activity before heading out the door to the Christmas Market. This activity is best suited for young toddlers who are just learning how to talk and expanding the number of words they know. Try incorporating these easy speech and language strategies while you help your child put on their winter gear. Take advantage of the time you’re already using to get your child ready to go out and help their language development at the same time. If you’re not in a rush, you can also invite one of your child’s favourite dolls and add them to the routine of getting ready to go out. To start you will need to gather the hats, coats, mitts, snow pants, and scarves that your child and the doll can wear.
Incorporating Language Strategies While Getting Your Winter Gear on
Naming: Naming is one simple strategy to include while you help your child put on their winter clothes. Before you help your child put on each clothing item, hold the item up beside your face and name the clothing item. For example, before putting your child’s hat on, you can hold up the hat beside your face while you say: "Hat!" Children need lots of repetition to learn new words. The more we can verbally name and model…the better it is for our children. The repetition of names while providing a visual representation of the item will be beneficial, especially with everyday terms.
Use Gestures/Signing: Another strategy is to incorporate gestures while dressing up your child and/or the dolls. Functional words are great words to teach with gestures as they also help to get your child’s attention and help with new words. Functional words are words that cause change in your child’s environment. These words are common and can be used in a variety of situations or ways to request and self-advocate. For example, functional words that can be modeled and paired with gestures include: on, off, up, down, in, out. In combination with the “Naming Strategy”, before putting your child’s hat on, you can first say “hat on!”. When you say “hat” you can hold up the hat, but when you say “on” you can use the baby sign for “on”. After you have named and gestured for “hat on” you can then help your child put the hat on their head. Gestures are more concrete because they do not disappear quickly like spoken words. Gestures are also a great communication bridge because they give children a way to communicate when they might not be able to say the words yet. This can be a great way to supplement the words they’re either beginning to learn or help with their understanding.
Here are links to gestures that you can teach and model to your child while helping them get ready to go outside in the winter!
The great thing about teaching your child gestures for words like: on, off, up, down, in, out, is that they will start to apply these words in other situations. For example, once your child has learned the gesture for “up”, they may be more likely to communicate using this gesture when they want you to pick them up, or when they want to go upstairs. If you teach your child gestures for these words, they will have the words to communicate in other situations.
Provide Choices: Allow the toddler to take the lead in choosing which clothing items to put on the dolls. Lay out the options and ask, "Which hat? Red or blue? Long or short scarf? Smooth or fuzzy socks?"
When we give children choices, we are creating a natural opportunity and reason for them to talk. Let them explore and experiment with the different clothing items, promoting independence and decision-making. This also helps increase your child’s confidence and helps them learn that you value their opinion and preferences.
Say It Again and Again: Throughout the activity, repeat the names of the clothing items and the actions of what is happening. As you repeat, you can gradually increase the complexity of the sentence and concepts. For example, "The hat! The hat is on. The hat is on the doll's head" Continuously talk about what you and your toddler are doing. "You chose the blue mittens. Now the doll has warm hands!"
Reinforce the words by continually repeating the words as the toddler interacts with the clothing. This is one way to provide a language-rich environment.
Expand Vocabulary: For toddlers who are already starting to use words and short phrases, we can help expand existing vocabulary and use of language. We can do this by introducing additional vocabulary related to clothing. Our goal here is to model more complex words, details, or synonyms. Some slightly more complex words are: zipper, button, or pocket. Details that you can model can include how the clothing feels or looks e.g., fuzzy, scratchy, soft, loopy, shiny, sheer, etc. Examples of synonyms or less frequent words are: hood, puffer, lining, or waterproof.
Things to do and say to your kids at the Edmonton Christmas Market
There will be a wide variety of activities that you and your child will want to participate in. Although you may have certain activities planned, try to also participate in the activities your child is interested in and follow their lead!
Wh-questions: Ask your child a variety of wh-questions (who, what, when, where, why). WH questions encourage longer and more complex answers compared to simple yes or no questions. Using these questions in conversations helps your child build confidence and practice articulating their thoughts. Use a variety of WH questions such as: “Where are we going today?”, “What are you going to wish for this Christmas? Why do we give presents during Christmas?”. You can also try asking more imaginative “WHY” and “HOW” questions based on topics or stories they’re already familiar with, such as Santa. This creates an opportunity for your child to build on their existing knowledge and exercise their creative minds. Ask questions like: “Why does Santa have so many reindeer?”, “How does Santa deliver presents?”. These questions help extend the familiar stories they have heard and presents an opportunity for them to put words to their new ideas!
Recalling events: Before the day’s events, start by asking your child to make general predictions of the day. You can try asking each other questions that follow the 5 WH questions e.g., “Who do you think we will see?”, “What animals will we see?”, “When will we have snacks?”. This is a great way to practice future tense words, grammar, and vocabulary. As well, they will be exercising their thinking and prediction skills.
On the way back home after the event, ask your child to tell you about the different things you saw or did. You can ask them to pretend you weren’t there and to tell you all the important details of what happened. If they need help, you can ask questions like: “What was your favourite part? What did we do first? What did we do last? What did Santa feel when he was holding the crying baby?”. When children verbally describe past events, they are learning how to form complex sentences and use past tense words. As well, they are learning how to summarize, share important and relevant information and how to order events in a story and tell a story in their own words.
Comparing similarities and differences: Another strategy you can use to promote language development is to discuss similarities and differences. Similarities and differences can be drawn from any item or object that you see. To start, you can try comparing functions and what the object does or what the characters can do. For example, you can compare the similarities and differences in function between:
A sleigh with a car: “Santa uses that sleigh we saw to move from place to place like us using our cars. Santa uses the sleigh to get from place to place. We also use our cars to get from place to place. But Santa uses the slight from the North Pole to all the children’s houses all around the world. We use our car to get from our house to the Christmas market!”
A reindeer with people “Reindeer have eyes, ears and mouths just like us. They use their ears to listen to Santa. But we use our ears to listen to our friends, teachers, and parents. They use mouths like us to eat. But reindeers’ eyes, ears, and mouths are much bigger than ours”.
You can have a competition to see which family member can make the wildest comparisons and explain it the best! Comparing and contrasting further develops your child’s skills of evaluating and organizing information. To successfully communicate a comparison, your child will need to practice discussing relevant pieces of information and excluding irrelevant information.
Vocabulary: When you are commenting about what you are seeing and doing at the Christmas Market, try to model new descriptive words for your child. Exposing them to new words, particularly with real-life examples can further expand their language. For example, you can use more complex descriptive vocabulary like: “twinkling lights”, “powdery/crunchy snow”, “the bright red suit”. You can also use sensory words such as, “fuzzy, soft, scratchy”. Your child is likely already familiar with the item names, such as a scarf or hat. By adding sensory words, it provides another learning opportunity to expand their vocabulary for describing. The physical representation of new vocabulary will help your child learn the new words faster.
Check out our free download for more examples of the kind of describing words you can add!
Add wait time: Wait for your child to tell you what they want to do instead of continuously providing suggestions. When you give them a chance to process everything around them, they may initiate and tell you what they want to do next. If they need help communicating, you can try asking them where they want to go next, what they want to do next, or who they want to see next! After asking a question, wait at least 5-10 seconds for their response. This gives them time to process your question, think about their thoughts, and provide an answer. Even as adults, we still need to process incoming information to make a decision. If your child needs help with answering your open-ended WH question, you can try providing them with a choice (e.g., “Who do you want to see next?”... wait 10 seconds…“Do you want to see Santa or the snowman?”)
Copying and adding: When your child points something out or makes a comment, try to copy back what they said and then add 1 additional word. For example, if your child says “snow”, add more words to what they said by saying “Yes, snow. Snow is cold”. Copying and adding are great for increasing your child’s vocabulary because you are capitalizing on what they are already interested in and engaged with. This strategy builds upon the existing words your child knows and deepens their language concept. Reflecting on what your child has said is a way to practice active listening which helps your child feel valued.
Have fun with your kids at Edmonton's Winter Events
Edmonton is home to multiple winter events and festivals. Here is your sign to take your kids out and make some magical Christmas memories as a family! Download our free resource and have those rich winter vocabulary words at your fingertips if you need some ideas. There are countless opportunites around us to support our children's speech and language - these are only a small handful! You can use these languages tips for any events or outings. These aren't limited to Christmas Markets or Edmonton events!
Let us know if you have any winter or Christmas activities that are part of your family's tradition! Find us on instagram @chattytherapy to get more speech and language resources.
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.