Look at a book of unusual animals or insects. Listen to the child’s questions and the words used to describe the animals.
Look at the cover of the book and ask the child what he thinks the book is about. If the child doesn’t answer, say, “Do you think it is about people or animals?” As you look at the pictures of the creatures, ask the child to tell you about the animals. “What do you see?” Find the animal’s or insect’s body parts.
The child identifies a category by characteristics and knows animals, people, plants, toys, etc.
Children want the labels for things they do not know. Encourage parents to answer “What’s that?” questions and offer a simple explanation. “That’s an airplane. It flies in the sky.” Give only the information children can understand. Too much information may confuse children. For example, “That’s an airplane. It carries people high up in the air to places far away,” is too much information. Early childhood educators and parents should also start to talk about parts of objects, in addition to body parts. For example, “Hold it by the handle. This is the handle.” Also, help adults understand that talking about categories of objects helps children learn how to classify their world. For example, “See this flower. This is a flower too. All of these are flowers.”
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015
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