Building Development

Newborn baby

• Holding and nurturing develops language. Provide lots of eye contact, storytelling, and consistency.

1-3 months

• Makes brief eye contact
• Smiles in response to others
• Sounds primarily are vowel sounds (ooh and aah)
• Cries to communicate

Activities to Build Development:

• Tummy Time!!!
• Respond immediately to your babies cry
• Develop a routine, structured environment
• Smile often at your baby, sooth, and cuddle your baby often
• Imitate your babies sounds and talk to your baby often
• Expose your baby to different sounds and see how he/she responds to them
• Allow some quiet time for your baby each day
• Read short, simple stories to your baby

4-6 months

• Smiles, squeaks, squeals, yells, laughs, makes raspberries
• Responds to happy/angry faces
• Plays games like “Peek-a-boo”
• Reacts to his/her name
• Locates sounds in the room
• Looks in direction of your voice when you are gone
• Enjoys turn-taking games with sounds

Activities to Build Development:

• Play “Peek-a-boo” or “This Little Piggy” with your baby
• Look in mirrors and make different faces, talk about body parts
• Imitate sounds your baby makes, try to get him/her to imitate sounds you make
• Soothe/calm your baby when fussy, rock and love your baby often
• Read short, simple stories, or simply look at pictures together in books

6-9 months

• Uses longer, repeated babbling (dadadada)
• Uses a variety of sounds which may include: m, n, p, b, t, d, w
• Shouts or vocalizes to gain attention
• Imitates sounds made by others he/she already makes
• Vocalizes in response to objects that move
• Recognizes family member’s names
• Responds with gesture to “want up?”
• Responds to sound when source is not visible
• Waves in response to “bye bye”

Activates to Build Development:

• Read daily to your baby, name pictures you see your baby is interested in
• Talk about what you are doing as well as the things your baby is doing
• Enjoy finger plays and nursery rhymes with you baby
• Encourage imitating sounds – babbling, clicking tongue, coughing, singing
• Name objects your baby is looking at or playing with

10-12 months

• Begins saying “mama” and “dada”
• May say a few words other than “mama” and “dada”
• Repeats words he/she knows
• Babbles in short phrases that sound like sentences
• Makes up own words for objects (“baba” for bottle)
• Responds to his/her name being called
• Understands some simple, familiar phrases/commands
• Understands “no,” but may not always obey
• Uses index finger to point to things
• Uses a combination of gestures, sounds and words to let you know what he/she wants

Activities to Build Development:

• Tell your baby “Show me your nose,” then point to your nose (other body parts also)
• Hide a toy while your baby is watching. Help baby find the toy, praise baby for finding the toy
• Look at books together, naming pictures you see, and asking your baby to point to pictures of familiar objects
• Repeat nursery rhymes and sing often
• Praise your baby; smile, clap or dance when your baby says (or attempts) a new word
• Name objects your baby points to and interacts with, and expand on the name (Ex. Your baby points to an apple. You say “Apple, it’s a red apple.”)
• Keep phrases short and descriptive (“We eat apple.”)

Around~18 months

• Follows familiar directions
• Touches several body parts, clothing items when named
• Selects 2 or 3 familiar objects from a group
• Points to pictures of familiar objects you name
• Says approximately 15 words
• Uses words and gestures (such as pointing) to communicate what he/she wants
• Uses the sounds t, d, n, and h frequently
• Imitates words heard in conversation
• Names about 5 familiar objects

Activities to Build Development:

• Repeat words your child says, and add one more (Ex: “ball,” “yes, BIG ball”)
• Talk about things you do each day (“Let’s get the red t-shirt today!”)
• Listen to what your child is trying to say, treat everything he/she says as an attempt to communicate
• Name items of clothing as you get dressed
• Make a word book with pictures of familiar and some unfamiliar people and things
• Do some gross motor games, and talk about the actions (“hop like a bunny,” “crawl like a turtle”)
• Use and talk about possessives (“Your spoon, Mommy’S spoon”) and plurals (1 dog, 2 dogS)
• Give your child simple directions to follow (“Get the red shoe”)

2 years old

• Consistently produces sounds “p, b, m, n, h, w”
• May be beginning to produce sounds “d, t, f, y, k, g, ng”
• Speech is understood 50-75% of the time
• Putting 2-3 words together: “mommy go,” “more milk,” “I want juice”
• Asks questions: “What’s that?”, “Where’s ____?”
• Uses 2-word negative phrases: “no want,” “not go!”
• Uses names of objects, actions, persons
• Can answer simple questions
• Understands simple directions “Go get your shoes”
• Understands some two-step, related directions “Get your spoon and give it to me”
• Uses early pronouns “I,” “you”

Activities to Build Development:

• Talk about your day, as well as things your child is doing
• Repeat new words, introduce new items, use prepositions (in, on, under, behind) and descriptive words (hot, tired, wet, dirty, etc.)
• Listen to your child when he/she is talking – avoid saying “I don’t understand you.”
• Praise your child for telling you something that he/she saw, heard, felt
• Describe actions, point out new objects, talk about everything you see as you go about your day
• Be care with the word “that” make sure you describe choices, “Do you want ‘milk’ or ‘juice’?” Hold up both items, and have your child request what he/she wants
• Sing familiar songs, tell nursery rhymes
• Simple stories, enjoy reading together, simplify your language (mommy go bye bye)

3 years old

• Consistently produces sounds: “p, b, m, n, w, h, f, ng”
• Beginning to and/or can produce: “k, g, t, d, y”
• Speech is understood approximately 75% of the time
• Understands simple prepositions (under, on top, behind, in front, next to/beside)
• Understands some time concepts (summer, lunchtime, day, night)
• Sentence length of approximately 3-4 words
• Asks “what” questions frequently
• Uses language to relate observations, concepts, ideas, relationships
• Can tell a story or relate an idea to someone
• Understands, and can answer simple “who, what, why, where” questions

Activities to Build Development:

• Play “same/different” – Group 3 toys (2 same, 1 different) on the floor, help your child group ones that are the same and different (cars, blocks, balls, etc.)
• Create an obstacle course and talk about the actions as you go through the course (“under the table, around the chair, through the kitchen,” etc.)
• Play “marching band” – With or without instruments, play follow the leader around the house
• Make puppets out of brown paper bags or socks, create different characters and a story
• Name a color or shape, have your child move to where he/she can touch something that color or shape
• Take your child on a listening walk. Talk about all the different sounds you hear (birds, cars, trees, mowers, etc.)

4 years old

• Correctly uses the sounds “m, n, ng, p, b, t, d, k, g, f, w, y, h”
• Emerging use of sounds “r, l”
• Speech is understood 75-90% of the time
• Produces sentences 4-5 words, uses adult-like grammar
• Follows commands, even when an object is not present
• Answers “who, how, how many, why” questions
• Uses some simple past tense forms (-ed as in “jumped”)
• Uses pronouns “I, me, you, he, she” correctly
• Tells a story that is easy to follow, although sometimes confuses fact and fantasy
• Very talkative; enjoy experimenting with language, delighting in big words, long explanations, bathroom language, and swear words.

Activities to Build Development:

• Re-tell a story or create your own and make it into your very own book
• Look at magazines and talk about the different places, events you see
• Do simple cooking activities together and talk about basic measurements (half, whole)
• Play reverse hide and seek (your child hides the toys, then has to tell you where to find them!)
• Play Simon Says – adding increasing complex directions as your child is able to follow them

5 years old

• Correctly uses all speech sounds with possible exceptions: “th, j, z, zh, r, l”
• Speech understood 90-100% of the time, but NOT perfect speech
• Produces sentences of at least 5-6 words, uses adult-like grammar
• Uses past, present and future tenses
• Knows common opposites
• Knows spatial relationships (on top, behind, far, near)
• Understanding how objects are used
• Express themselves in few words; “play” and “good”
• Express fantasy more through actions and less through words than at four
• Think out loud, talk their thoughts

Activities to Build Development:

• Guessing Game: Describe items you are thinking about and/or see around the house, outside, at the park, etc. (Ex. “I am thinking of something hat floats in the sky, is white, looks like cotton. It’s a …cloud!”)
• Pick words and have your child name the opposite (short/tall, big/little, hot/cold, long/short)
• Pick out household objects that go together (shoe/sock, spoon/fork, salt/pepper). Place the objects in two separate piles. Help your child match the objects that go together. Talk about why they go together, when/where you would use them, why you have these items.
• Talk about the beginning and ending sounds in words, try to think of words with the same beginning/ending sound
• Talk about the order of things (in a story or as you get ready). Use words like first, second, next, last

6 years old

• Enjoy explaining things, sharing about their day
• Use of enthusiastic language
• Loves jokes and guessing games
• Tends to complain frequently
• Loves to ask question

Activities to Build Development:

• Discuss their day right before he/she falls asleep; they will remember more as they begin to relax
• Talk about the schedule of your day
• Involve your child in cooking, following recipes
• Computer time is important at this age (make sure it is child safe)
• Discuss past and present and also how and why things happen
• Enjoy to discover, trying new games and ideas
• Still needs to be read with and encourage some silent reading
• Creative and comes up with own game
• Still has pretend play skills and uses them often

7 years old

• Listens well and speaks well
• Loves one-on-one conversations
• Likes to send notes, mail, emails, and texts
• Shows interest in meaning of words
• Starting to show interest in sorts of codes
• Likes to work by themselves, completing tasks they started
• Enjoys board games and computer games (make sure child safety is on computer)
• Increasing ability to reflect on their day and their learning
• Good at discussing pictures, sorting, classifying, and good with details.
• Knows and understands rules
• Gets upset if makes mistakes, doesn’t like to take risks

Activities to Build Develop:

• Encouragement (everyone make mistakes)
• When given directions provide them in steps or numbers.
• Repeat tasks
• Provide inquiry activities; often works well in discovery centers
• During reading time may still whisper to themselves
• Do less partner reading and more individual reading
• Continue phonics work
• Should be able to add; may need visual objects
• Outside play is very important
• Provide some memorization (bible scriptures)
• Enjoys puzzles, and loves “secrets”

8 years old

• Likes to talk, explain ideas, and use expanding vocabulary
• Tends to exaggerate stories and ideas
• Listens well, but has so many ideas they interrupt often
• They may not always remember what they have heard due to so many thoughts
• Adjust well to change, bounce back quickly from mistakes or disappointments
• Attention span is limited but becomes engrossed with hands on activities
• Likes creative writing and mastering handwriting grip

Activities to Build Develop:

• Have several activities planned; full of energy, do things in a hurry
• Outdoor play is important; riding bikes, scooters, running, jumping,
• Scavenger hunt outside; explore the nature
• Loves group activities, being around friends
• Plays hard and tires quickly
• Enjoys responsibility, may not complete tasks
• Wants their peers’ approval; encourage talking about friends
• Wants approval of teacher’s; encourage discussion about teachers
• Starting to show an interest in other cultures
• Use games as a way to practice math facts and strategies (dice are great way to learn adding and subtracting)

9 years old:

• Love descriptive language, word play, new vocabulary
• Sometimes will revert to baby talk
• Enjoys exaggeration
• Likes “dirty” jokes
• Often complains about fairness
• Critical of self and others
• Can be moody, negative, often says “It’s boring”, etc.
• Impatient
• May show more signs of anxiety; twist hair, bite nails
• Better coordination, likes to push their physical limits
• Able to manage more than one concept at a time
• Beginning to see “bigger world”

Activities to Building Development

• Lots of encouraging words
• Point out positive things about child
• Listen to their stories and ask questions
• Starting to show interest in deep relationships (Proverbs 4:23)
• Handwriting- encourage cursive (some schools are not teaching cursive)
• Spelling- fewer mistakes with spelling in stories and journals; should master basic capitalization and punctuation
• Should start volunteer to read, if not, encourage!
• Still forgetful; but learning to be organized
• Enjoys having responsibility; taking ownership


Information provided from:
1. Oklahoma State Department of Health, Maternal & Child Health, Parent Education Program/Early Childhood Development. Brochure.
2. Oklahoma State Department of Health, Parent-Child Enrichment Program. Brochure.
Understanding Language Delay. Retreived
3. Yardsticks 3rd Edition, Chip Wood
4. Play and Learn Games. Retrieved June 19, 2007, from:
5. Thomas, J.L. (1992) Play, Learn, and Grow: an Annotated Guide to the Very Best Books and Materials for Very Young Children. Bowker.