The need for verbs

Throw away your flashcards and opt for REAL interactions with your child. Why? Because language was created to COMMUNICATE and is best learned in real communicative experiences. What does that mean?

Well, flashcards, more often than not, are going to work on nouns. Things. Ball. Truck. Cup. Bird. It’s like the Flashcard Name Game.

“What’s this?”


“What’s this?”


But, guess what? Your child can not make sentences out of just names or nouns (or if he does, those sentences will not make sense). If you ever want your child to be able to make two-word phrases, like “throw ball” or “eat apple”, you’ve got to get in there and put marks on some pages for verbs. And even if your child isn’t ready for two-word phrases yet, focusing on a combination of nouns and verbs makes sure your child can communicate about a variety of things AND activities.

So, stop the annoying Flashcard Name Game and go play. Do! That’s how you work on verbs – by doing! Get on the floor or get outside and jump, eat, open, close, stack, throw, kick, mix, cook, go.

Caution: Flashcard Name Game is not actually limited to flashcards. You may catch yourself playing that annoying game with any number of objects or toys (ex: puzzles, blocks). To keep from doing that, try to talk about what your child is doing instead. So for the puzzle you could put marks on the page for the words “in” or “out”, and for the blocks you could marks on the page for the words “up” and “down”.

If you need more help, don’t forget about this great video of a mom filling the page for “down”. She had to do all kinds of DOING to fill that page!

Do you have a page you are working on now for verbs? What is it?

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4 Responses
  1. rachel says:

    Great point about how it can be easy to play the “flashcard game” with other toys as well. Focusing on the names of puzzle pieces usually only puts marks on noun pages. By focusing on putting marks on DOING pages, we can get more bang for our buck and eventually make marks on verb and noun pages at the same time!

    • Kim says:

      Yes! And, thanks!

      There are so many levels of language I target with the same puzzle. By holding up two different pieces and offering a choice, I can ask the child to make a choice by reaching, pointing, saying “this”, saying the name of the object or noun (ex: cow), saying a two-word phrase with an adjective and noun (ex: brown cow), or more. Then I work on following a proximal point, if needed, by pointing to where the chosen puzzle piece goes and cover the slot to prompt a phrase in that child’s ZPD (ex: in, cow in, brown cow in). Then I wait for the child to ask for more pieces (ex: sign “more”, say “more”, say “more puzzle”, say “more puzzle pieces) to repeat the choice process again. After the puzzle is complete I work on comprehension by asking the child to “give me the ______” for each piece as we take them out to clean up. I then prompt “out”, “cow out”, etc. and, finally, work on one more expressive phrase (ex: “in”, “cow in” as we put each piece back in a bag for safe keeping). That’s a lot of repetition and some pages are bound to get full after doing a puzzle this way a few times. I do Mr. Potato Head, blocks, and other toys very similarly.

  2. Sera says:

    With puzzles, can you say something like, “cow goes in, cow comes out”? Or am I missing the point? Do you know of any songs that are good for teaching actions? Or a website, YouTube link?

    • Kim says:

      Hi, Sera! You’ve got the point exactly with puzzles. The only thing you want to remember is to stay in your child’s ZPD ( so that you aren’t saying too much. If your child is saying two-word phrases, then “cow goes in” is perfect because you are just one step ahead. If your child is only saying one-word phrases, then “cow in” would be better. I have a post coming up about music. Basically any music that encourages you to move is going to be great to teach actions.