How Do You Use It?

Robert Rockwell, Debra Reichert Hoge, and Bill Searcy

Robert Rockwell, Debra Reichert Hoge, and Bill Searcy show kid-friendly ways for the practice of oral language skills in:
Linking Language: Simple Language and Literacy Activites Throughout the Curriculum

At the age of five children are able to define words in terms of their use. This activity stimulates and reinforces this particular area of language development.

What you will need:

  • Photographs or objects to show the children

Words you can use:

  • ride, car, bus, wear, hat, gloves, sit, chair, bench, eat, with, fork, knife, sleep, bed, cot, wash, dishes, clothes, clean, dish, house

What to do:

  • Tell the children that you are going to show them some things that we use both at home and here at school. Use photographs or real items if possible.
  • Show the children an item. Let the children take turns answering, "How do we use this?"
  • Start with items that are available in the center such as a table, chair, rug, block, paintbrush, or paper.
  • Now try items of clothing such as shoes, socks, pants, dress, boots, raincoat, or ribbon.
  • Now try items that are found in homes such as a bed, sofa, chair, knife, spoon, telephone, or television.


  • Try forms of transportation that are familiar to the children such as planes, car, bus, train, tram, cable car, boat, or ferry.
  • Categorize the items by use.

Questions to assess language development:

    • Can the children name each item?

Literacy Connections

    • Arthur’s Really Helpful Word Book by Marc Brown
      Using characters from the popular Arthur books, this book labels objects in a variety of settings, such as school, supermarket, and farm.
    • Can You Guess? by Margaret Miller
      Photographs offer hilarious possibilities and sensible answers to questions such as, "What do you eat for dinner? Blocks? A football? Shoes? Hay? Spaghetti!"
    • Is It Rough? Is It Smooth? Is It Shiny? by Tana Hoban
      Beautiful photographs of the familiar (apples, eggs) and less familiar (bales of hay) lend themselves to many descriptions. The more you look, the more you see.
    • Snowballs by Lois Ehlert
      Each of the snow creatures photographed in this book is finished with a wide variety of real objects. At the end of the book the objects are pictured and labeled.
    • Make a class book by gluing pictures of items on large sheets of paper. Ask the children to describe how they would use each item. Write their words under the picture. After reading the finished book together, place it in the reading center for children to read on their own.
    • Encourage each child to make a simple riddle book by folding a piece of paper in half. On the inside glue a picture of a familiar item. On the outside write the child’s words as she explains how the item is used. Children can read their books to each other, then place them in the reading center.
    • Make word charts similar to Arthur’s Really Helpful Word Book. Glue pictures from magazines on large sheets of paper. Have the children identify objects in the picture. Write the word on the chart and draw a line from the word to the picture. Then have the children tell how the item is used. Write their words under the label.

This activity (excerpt) is taken from:
Linking Language: Simple Language and Literacy Activites Throughout the Curriculum
by Robert Rockwell, Debra Reichert Hoge, and Bill Searcy
Page 26. ISBN: 0876592027
© 1999. Gryphon House, Inc.

See all of our Activites that Build Oral Language Skills