If you’re anything like us, we like to get the max out of the resources we have, especially those we are given for FREE. Yes, a number of years ago now, our LA gave us 2 sets of these so we decided to keep a set for our own use and a set for sharing with parents. Aye, those were the days…
In the setting, we initially separated the cards into 6 sets to cover 6 weeks as suggested in the packs. This ensured that each aspect of the child’s speech and language was given equal priority. Each card differentiates its activity for different phases of development so that the 0-6 months activity is suitable for tiny babies and the 12-18 months activity is generally suitable for, although not exclusive to, older babies (depending on baby’s individual learning and development needs).
However, you don’t have to put them into the sets as suggested on the plan for practitioners but it’s a start. Like us, you might want to change them later depending upon how popular or unpopular some of the cards are with your children. You know them best.
We changed ours to 6 sets of 4 cards as we only operate 4 days a week, keeping aside the 6 red cards that we felt were best at promoting a positive relationship with any new child starting at the setting. They form part of our settling-in process. We hole-punched the top left corner of each card and threaded the sets onto key ring loops and marked the sets week 1 to week 4.
We use one card per day. We pop it into a pretty box with any resources that the card calls for. For instance, “Chatterbox the Canary” calls for a surprise bag and 3 or 4 objects to explore so inside the box is a small drawstring bag and objects you would typically put in a treasure basket. (Risk benefit assess them in exactly the same way depending on the age and stage of development of the baby – remember – baby will want to put them into their mouths). The beauty of this activity is that the older children in the setting often like to have a go too and so they are free to explore the box in their own time in our chill-out zone.
Now, we share this activity in a couple of ways. We take photos of the activity card and resources and their babies engaged in the activity and share them with parents. Most parents have similar resources to hand so that they can enjoy the same activities at home with their baby. Some, however, either don’t have the resources or haven’t the time to find them what with everything else they have to do when they get home with baby. In this instance, we pop the card and the resources into a small drawstring baby to take home. (We call these Babble Bags). Often, parents and carers will upload their own photos to share the fun with us which is lovely.
These cards are not only wonderful for babies but for older children with speech, communication and language needs. Parents may be working with a speech and language therapist and these cards are fantastic for using as a one to one activity. Parents may be asked how they and their childcare provider is helping with their child’s development and so your photographic evidence can come in very useful indeed.
If you have them in your setting but don’t currently use them in your day to day practice then it’s nothing short of criminal, and one terrible waste of one very simple and very inexpensive resource that can have a very positive impact upon the outcomes of children. If you don’t have them yet then pop them on your wishlist. At just £7.99 per pack (even cheaper for PACEY members) they’re a steal and quite possibly the most useful things you will ever buy in the next financial year. (And no, I don’t have any financial interest in ICAN resources – just saying).
We use the Toddler Talk cards a little bit differently but that’s for another time.