Communication is a great skill to have. It is one of the 4Cs of skills based learning that we have been talking about (critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity). This video is part of the series on the 4Cs and how we can be teaching them for educational success. Today we are looking at activities for communication.
We need to teach communication – it doesn’t come naturally. Once learned, the more we practice the easier it becomes. Teaching effective communication skills to children helps them to express themselves clearly and convey their feelings. Many tantrums can happen because a child can’t communicate their feelings appropriately. It is important to start teaching them early, helping them find the words or labels for their feelings. (Check out my video on teaching feelings.)
A child who can verbally communicate well may be comfortable producing written communication as well, which is likely to help them at school.
There are 3 types of communication: verbal, non-verbal, and visual.
Verbal communication is the use of words to share information with other people. This is both written and verbal. It is all about the words that you choose and therefore how they are interpreted.
Non-verbal communication is how we communication through our facial expressions, our gestures, body language, and tone of voice. Sometimes the non-verbal communication is louder than the words spoken. It is important to know that our non-verbal communication is as important as the words we choose, if not more important at times.
This is where we communicate ideas and information through visual images, like signs, graphics, typography, illustration, advertising and the such. Visual communication has been used throughout the centuries. Think cave drawings! People are so creative.
8 ACTIVITIES FOR COMMUNICATION
Here are some activities for teaching and practicing communication. These are a few examples, and can be adapted for different ages.
I grew up playing this game under a different name, which is no longer PC. For this game the aim is to transmit a message from one person to another, trying to keep the message in tact.
Person A will think of a simple phrase and will whisper it to Person B. They will need to pass on what they heard to the next person. The message keeps moving down the line. The last person will say the message out loud. Will the message be the same as what Person A said? Hilarity can ensue. But it is good to reinforce speaking clearly, listening carefully and understanding.
Create a Treasure Map
This is great for visual communication. X marks the spot! You create the treasure map. Is it at home? Is it in town? Do you follow clues? Do you just follow instructions? What fun it is to then dress up as a pirate and follow the map to find the treasure.
Show and Tell
As a teacher in early grades, I have had the privilege of being part of many Show and Tell (or News) sessions (and have been privy to things that perhaps I didn’t want to hear!) With Show and Tell is it good to have a tangible object that they can talk about – whether a new toy, or a movie ticket, a photo, etc. This is a great opportunity to be in front of a group and talking about what they like about this, the memory, etc.
“I’m thinking of an animal……” And then everyone has to ask questions that require a YES or NO answer. You also need to be listening to the other questions so that you do not repeat, and therefore waste, a question. This is fun to play around the table. We often play this in the car. It doesn’t have to just be animals. It can be whatever theme you like.
Yes, we can do written book reports, but it is also fun to do an oral book report, hearing from a child why they like a particular book, etc. Having a report structure is a good way to be thinking through the book and then communicating clearly – exploring the plot, what was the author trying to communicate?
Story From a Picture
This is a fun activity and I love to do it, especially when in an art gallery. I talk about this is my video on Imagination and Storytelling. Look at the picture or art work and tell a little story based on what you see. The artist has depicted something but can you take it and run with it a little further? It doesn’t have to be elaborate, and you are not having to write a novel. Just share a story based on what you see. For older students have them write the story.
Copy the Reader
This is something I like to do to teach inflection and interest when reading out loud. It shows how we can use our voice and how it is important. Have your child listen to you (or if you feel uncomfortable) to another reader and then they need to copy the way the passage was read. There are many great resources that have people reading books. It doesn’t need to be a long passage – a sentence or two, or a simple paragraph. How was the passage read? Did they speed up? Did they drop to a whisper? Were different voices used for the different characters? Even how we use our face and hands in telling a story helps communicate.
You don’t have to be good at drawing to play Pictionary. It is fun as a family game. You can play the official board game, or you can draw from the curriculum you are using at home. What are some of the key words or vocabulary you are learning? Pictionary is great in that you are combining non-verbal and visual communication.
These are just some ideas. I hope that they will help you practice communication skills at home.