Language development... we’re all working toward it everyday with our children. We talk to them, sing to them, read to them, sign to them... But we know that reciprocation, our children being able to verbalize to us, comes later than their ability to understand language. So in the meantime we are teaching them other methods of communicating with us, using sign language and picture cards.
There are some good picture card resources out there. For free on the web, you can download and print cards from the See and Learn Language and Reading program. I like these cards because they use children with Down syndrome as models, the images are very realistic, and access to the cards is free. However, you still have printing costs, laminating costs, and the colors on the cards blend together too much, which I think might make object differentiation hard.
You could also purchase premade packs of First Word card sets. There are several packages to choose from, the colors are good but the sets are pricey and not all of the pictures in each set will be useful with every baby. Do I really care if my baby learns what a car key is?
To get the perfect set of picture cards for your baby, you have to make your own. It is easy to do and you will end up with a set of cards that is realistic, durable (chew-proof!), and specific to your baby’s world. When you make your own cards using your baby’s spoon, bottle, books, family members, etc., your baby can immediately recognize the object. Using cards from other sources means your baby has to be able to generalize that the picture of a cup is a representation of his cup. When your baby sees a picture of himself reading one of his books, it makes more sense than seeing a picture of just a random book cover.
All you need to get started is a camera, prints, and self-sealing lamination pouches.
Step 1. Take pictures of the objects your baby uses... his spoon and bowl, his bottle with milk in it, his cup, him reading his favorite book, you, his siblings, happy faces, sad faces, the family pet, toys, his crib... You can look at premade card sets to get ideas or jot down notes as you go through a couple days with your baby.
Step 2. Crop and print the pictures so that the object is the main thing in each picture.
Step 3. Laminate the pictures back to back so that each card has a front and back picture. Do not put pictures that could be offered as choices in the same pouch. You want your baby to be able to see both choices at the same time so that he can point to the card that has the object he wants.
Step 4. Show your baby the appropriate card prior to doing whatever is on the card. Before you know it, your baby will realize that the card represents the upcoming action or activity. Long before he can say he prefers an apple to a banana, he can choose the picture of an apple at snack time.
You can also use the cards when you are reading to help your child with generalization. When you get to a picture of a ball in the story, show your baby the picture of his ball. It is important that you also say and sign the word when you use pictures. Picture cards are a resource for enhancing language development and facilitating communication, not a total replacement for signing/speaking.
What picture cards are you using with you baby? Let me know and I will add a link here to your post about it.
Lori: Special Connection Homeschool: Introducing Reading with Sight Words
Perplexing Situation: Friday Organization