Learning to Express Myself

By Activity Bank on May 17, 2013

This activity has been revised and was originally created by Charlotte Cushman and published in the Perkins Activity and Resource Guide (1st edition, 1992).  The second edition is available for purchase.

This activity works to increase expressive language skills. Lessons include Concept Development and English Language Skills.


Toys, activities, and foods that are rewarding to the individual student


  • Present the student with a preferred toy, food, or activity. Encourage her to ask for the item by name. Reinforce appropriate vocalizations by allowing the student to play with the toy briefly, to taste the food, or to do the activity.
  • When the student is able to name various preferred items, encourage her to combine words to make requests. Try some of the following:
    • Want____
    • More____
    • ____finished
    • Eat____
    • No____
  • Give the student a preferred toy which can easily be turned on and off. For example, show the student a music box and help her identify it. Allow her to wind it up. When it stops, ask her what she wants: “More music box.”legos


  • Try this with various foods at snack or mealtime by presenting only small amounts and encouraging the student to ask for more of the item. If the student enjoys swinging, encourage her to ask for “more swing.”
  • As the student becomes more proficient in her ability to combine two words, vary the phrases and increase the complexity and length of the thoughts expressed.
  • Encourage students to combine words in various natural settings throughout the day, for example, at mealtime or playtime.

Hint: See “Making Choices” activity as well.