The other day, I was playing with a little boy with the Fisher Price barn. After getting out the animals, feeding them, playing in the mud, and putting the farmer down for a nap, I started to make some hay out of Play-doh to feed the animals. My little play partner began piling it up in a nest for the chicken. As it got higher and higher, I commented that it was tall. Then he said, “Beanstalk.” So, following his lead, we made a beanstalk that was tall and had the animals climb up to the top to greet the rooster on the roof.
Research shows that when you follow a child’s lead in play and talk about it, they take in more language. You as the parent can suggest a little change in the action, (like make some food for your people or animals) and then sit back and watch your child adapt the story to take in the food. If you child needs more modeling in play, go ahead, but step back when they can start to lead the play.