Stimulating Language with Blocks and Fill-In Sets

Fill-in sets is a term I use to describe phrases like “ready, set,… go” that you can leaving unfinished for a child to fill in. For example, parent says, “ready, set….” and child fills in, “go!” 

Fill-in sets are a great way to stimulate language and they’re engaging for children because they are:

–       predictable

–       exciting (think of how excitedly we say GO at the end of ready, set, GO!

–       And usually end with short, easy-to-say words like “go”!

You can make up your own fun, predictable, and easy-to-say fill-in sets to help your child learn various words!

One of my favorite fill-in sets is “up, up, up, DOWN!” I love this set because it can be used with any toy! Read on to find out several ways in which I use this fill-in set when playing with blocks with my little ones. 

person piling blocks
  1. Stack the blocks one by one, saying “up” each time you add another block to the tower, PAUSE, and then knock the tower down, and excitedly exclaim, “DOWN!”. “Up, Up, Up…..DOWN!”. The child will laugh and love watching you be animated and silly as you knock the tower down. Do this a few more time, each time increasing the pause before “down” After a few rounds, repeat this and wait for your child to chime in, saying, “down”. Remember, instead of asking your child to “say, “down!”, pause and look at them with expectant eyes. If they don’t say it at first, you can say it for them and give them another turn later!
  2. Slowly bring a block to your head, saying, “up, up, up” as you do. Then, place the block on your head and drop it (gently and safely so it doesn’t hurt anyone but falls on a play mat) and exclaim, “DOWN!” Repeat the routine described above, increasing the pause before “down” each time! You can also have the child initiate the routine by placing having them place the block on their head!

BONUS: You can also do “up, up, up, DOWN” while (carefully) lifting your toddler up in the air and exclaiming “DOWN” as you bring her back to the ground. When she giggles and wants more of this play routine, have her request, “up and down”. 

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