Online Activities that Facilitate Conversation
with Preschoolers and School-Aged Children*

The activities below are singled out because they have many characteristics of learner-based software. They leave the direction of the activity and the focus of the speech or language goal up to me, as a partner in the conversation with the child. The activities provide an interesting, interactive context for our communication.

Preschool Activities: Community People, Places and Things Theme

Build Mr. Rogers Neighborhood Build a neighborhood (Mr. Roger’s site). Choose from farm, town/street, construction site or magical castle themes. Move "stickers" around the screen -- great for spatial concepts practice.
Build a house with Daisy Duck Choose a house shape, add doors, windows, and landscaping. Practice giving directions.
Create a Room on Do2Learn Choose kitchen, bedroom, living room, or dining room to decorate/arrange. Large enough objects/“stickers” to use with touch screen.
(My Little Pony)
Choose a pony and decorate the candy shop, castle, or meadow. Note that you can turn off annoying music! Print option also available.
Billy Bear's
Tree House
Move object/ “stickers” around in Billy Bear’s tree house to arrange rooms. No sound effects.
Lego Family Helper Help Lego people find the things t hey need around the house before time runs out. It could be used for narrating what characters are doing or might do next. The program does not have distracting music or speech. However, the clock is ticking so it’s a timed task.  –There is no way to pause for talking about what is happening. Lots of AGENT + ACTION + OBJECT opportunities (e.g., He is reading a book; She is making cookies)
Explore Dora’s house Explore the rooms in Dora’s house (living room, bedroom, kitchen, garden). Make a recipe with Papa, plant a garden, and more.
  Theme-related Off-computer Activity Materials
Ideas and print materials for off-computer use (Community Helpers Theme) Community helpers listed on the website include: astronaut, baker, farmer, firefighter, fisherman, letter carrier, pilot, police, and teacher. Some of the activities suggest crafts or games with variable usefulness, and some include printable worksheets or templates for projects.
  Theme-related Drill and Practice (CAI)

Scholastic’s Community Club

Photos of community workers accompanied by short recorded sentences designed for early readers. Text can be read with or without audio support. Each community helper tells about what they do at work in a story 4-5 pictures long, followed by a brief multiple choice quiz (fire fighter, police officer, utility worker, etc).
TONKA Matching Games Match identical pictures of Tonka trucks in a memory game. Other matching games require matching parts of Tonka vehicles that go together.

Online Activities that Facilitate Language and Literacy
with School-Aged Children -- Community/Home Theme

Pirate Games Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean 2 official movie site -- to access games, choose Menu on upper left after the opening fanfare. Includes Talk Like A Pirate. Preview these! Some games may not be appropriate for your child. (demonstrated at Closing the Gap conference)
Make Your Own Zimmer Twins Movie Choose elements to fill in the sentence frame, using pre-made animation clips. Example: "Edgar laughs in the backyard holding a letter." Plan, arrange, and save your own "movies" and rate the movies made by others (this is wonderful!)
A Village in India This website presents a series of photos illustrating everyday life in a village in India,.  Prompts are provided for  brief writing or discussion focusing on comparing and contrasting life in India with life in the U.S. There are some British English conventions (e.g., whilst :-)  The content seems appropriate for upper elementary and middle school level students.
CAST Universal Design Book Builder A free online template for making “books” that include universal design features. You fill in template components (text, graphics) and the Book Builder generates the code that makes your book fit the template and be available for online use, downloadable for off-line computer use, or printed. A bit clumsy for making a book in real time WITH a young child, but it has much potential for creating appropriate materials FOR children with all special needs.

* Thanks to Christine Appert for her contributions to this list!

Print Resources/References

  • Cochran, P.S. (2005). Clinical computing competency for speech-language pathologists. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.

© 2006-2007 Paula S. Cochran, Ph.D., CCCSLP