Egg dyeing is not only a fun family activity to welcome spring and celebrate Easter, but it also provides a fantastic opportunity for children to develop and practice language skills, specifically vocabulary development and following directions.
When decorating eggs, it’s a special experience that only comes once a year and exposes children to less common words and bolsters what is called their tier II vocabulary. Take advantage of this chance to introduce your child to new words by talking with her throughout the process and describing what’s happening. Name the materials and unique tools, explore how they look and feel, and explain their functions. Discuss and marvel at the colors, shades, and art she creates! These strategies of narrating, labeling, and describing can help strengthen your child’s vocabulary during any shared activity, extraordinary or mundane.
Here is a list of my favorite and not-so-everyday words you can target while egg dyeing, more or less in the order you’d likely use them:
This isn’t a magical or fixed selection of words, so don’t feel tied down to them. Discover and explore words that are new or of interest to your child and incorporate those into your egg dyeing activity as you spend quality time together. Other egg-citing words like “pipette” or “marble” might come up, so don’t pass them up!
The process of egg dyeing is great for any age because it can be broken down into easy steps with adult guidance and can also challenge older and more advanced artists. If you’re able, include your child from the very beginning, which starts with a trip to the grocery store to purchase the required materials of eggs, vinegar, and a dye kit. If your child enjoys cooking and helping in the kitchen, have her assist with the boiling of the eggs. My preschooler felt quite accomplished with the job of checking for cracked shells, gently placing the eggs in water-filled pots, and making sure each egg was fully covered by water.
As for decorating, I recommend starting with a straightforward egg dyeing kit for younger ages. These can be purchased from most grocery stores (or Walmart or Target) and are equipped with written directions that include fewer than five steps and pictures showing in detail what to do. After the initial set-up, there's only three steps that need to be repeated for each egg. Following simple multi-step directions should be doable for four year-old children (with typically developing language skills). For comparison, you can expect a two-year old to be able to complete one step independently at a time (e.g., give me the egg from the carton).
If your child isn't an independent reader yet, read through the steps aloud with her more than once, and if needed, simplify the instructions. Demonstrate each step, so your child sees what it looks like in-person. For older ages, have your child restate what to do before starting her decorating, and once she has successfully accomplished decorating on her own a few times, have her share the love by teaching another family member. Incorporating visual supports (e.g., pictures, written steps), repetition, modeling, and restating or paraphrasing are all ways to help your child in understanding and following directions (components of receptive language).
Have an egg-cellent time decorating while taking advantage of these ways to support your little one in developing new vocabulary and following directions. Whether it's dyeing Easter eggs or brushing teeth or learning to ride a bike, you can apply these ideas to promote your child's language skills at any age.
- Johanna Sims, M.S., CCC-SLP