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Arousing interest
Puppet crocodile

One common technique to encourage children to communicate is to use objects. Here are some suggestions:

  • Arouse interest in an object (eg put it behind your back, on your head).
  • Take turns with objects such as balls or bean bags.
  • Use an object with component parts that you can hand to the child one by one.
  • Make the object irresistible! (What does the child naturally gravitate toward?)
  • Use one object in a distraction-free situation.
  • Observe the child and follow their lead before showing them what else the object might do.
Using surprise
Girl playing with puppet crocodile

Here are some further suggestions.

  • Use toys and gadgets that surprise – allow the child thinking time to engage.
  • Offer objects that require your help to make them work.
  • Comment on what's happening using short phrases.
  • Develop into a familiar play routine – pause and wait for an anticipatory response.
  • Store a familiar item slightly out of reach, model how to point to it and encourage the child to point to request the item to play with.

Using objects in practice

  • Leyla and her teacher, Claire, play a turn-taking game.
  • Chris, an assistant headteacher, finds ways to engage Bailey.
  • Sophia's teacher uses humour to engage Sophia.
Find out more
Girl touching puppet crocodile
Read the article by Gina Davies on using objects to gain joint attention and visit her website.