By now, your toddler likely has at least a handful of words they can consistently speak and understand. Even if they’re taking a little while to talk, your toddler’s wordbank of receptive vocabulary (words they understand but may not yet speak) is soaring.
Here’s a fun project that will preserve your toddler’s first words while helping them practice:
Note: this does not have to be high-tech. There are many photobook apps and services available, but if you don’t have the time, resources, energy, or inclination to go that route, there are plenty of easy and inexpensive DIY options for making a book like this.
1. Make a list of words
Jot down words (or short phrases, like “all done,” and sounds, like “moo”) you know your toddler can say. Keep the list (doggy, mama, ball, etc) handy so you can keep adding to it.
2. Take photos to represent each word
- If your child knows a color word—black, for example—you can simply take a photo of a black background or use a black sheet of paper.
- If your child can say “dog” but you don’t have one, you can use a photo you find online, ask a friend, or draw one yourself. You don’t need to be Rembrandt—your toddler will love a simple sketch by you 🖼
- Your toddler likely knows a few names and will delight in seeing pictures of their favorite people, like family members, friends, neighbors, and teachers.
- For more complex words like your child’s first verbs and prepositions (come, go, up, down), you can get creative: a photo or sketch of someone leaving/entering a door or a page of opposites, like one hand with a finger pointing up and another hand with a finger pointing down.
3. Label each word
You can do this in the actual photo, by having someone (Grandma, for example) hold a piece of paper that says “Grandma” in clear type. You can also add the label later if you’re using a photobook app or handwrite it on the photo or drawing.
4. Make a cover
If you’re feeling creative, great! Otherwise, a photo of your toddler and a simple title like “My First Words” works well.
If you’re not doing an online photobook, you can print the photos out at home or send them to a local store that does printing. Tape or glue the photos down on paper, bind the pages together with staples or glue, and you’ve made a book. You can also collect these pages in a 3-ring binder and continue adding new words and pictures 📒
6. Read it!
You now have a new book to read to your toddler, one they helped write by providing the words! When you read it together, give your toddler lots of opportunities to read each image, turn the pages, and point to the real-life version in your home if it’s available.