Every once in a while I find it necessary to work with my students on foundational language skills. The ability to describe objects utilizing sensory information is always a fun (and effective) area to focus.
I often notice that when my students are describing objects, they rely heavily on visual information, especially color! Research supports that young children have a “semantic bias” toward shape and color, so this observation makes sense. As clinicians, we have a tendency to jump quickly to categories and function, but I feel that spending a bit more time on developing sensory-based descriptive skills is also important. Although it has been a long time since my days as a student, I remember a professor stressing the importance of teaching skills “deep” as well as “broad”.
When working on descriptive skills, I love using objects as well as pictures. The entire experience is enhanced with a multi-sensory approach. Being able to manipulate and explore an object with all of our senses is so much more enriching than the one-dimensional approach offered with pictures.
Discussing semantic features is also a critical part of descriptive skills, and a precursor to the ability to recognize similarities and differences. My struggling students often focus on features that are irrelevant or that do not distinguish one item from another. Focusing on distinguishing features will help develop this skill.
In my TpT packet, you’ll find word lists to assist students with vocabulary generation as well as worksheets to target sentence structure. Have fun getting “back to basics”!