Sea Lions, Giraffes, and Monkey Faced Squirrels, Oh My

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Like so many other parents, I’m always looking for easy and quick ways to provide my kiddos with rich language experiences. I’ve read the research about how the more you talk to your kids, the better their language and vocabulary will be. I want them to be immersed in letters and words and have read the 1,000 books before Kindergarten, but I also want time to shower and put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and maybe even put away some of the clean laundry that’s been stacked in baskets for a week.

Which is why I’ve been so impressed with the National Geographic Little Kids magazine. My mom bought it for the toddler, and it has so many quick and easy ways to incorporate more language into something he already enjoys, and requires very little additional effort on my part.

Each magazine includes animal cards you can tear out and save, which might be his favorite part. There are some of the typical animals you’d expect like the elephant or giraffe, but there are always some that are new to him, like the sea lion, and some that just have fabulous names, like the monkey faced squirrel. Right now he likes to lay them out and name them or ask me their names. If we’re feeling fancy as he gets older, we can categorize his animals in different ways…by size, which continent they live on, if they’re water or land animals, etc. or do some “WH” questions like “Who has a long neck and eats leaves” or “Where does the sea lion live?”

The Opposites page is fun as well, and after I ask him to point to things (where’s the empty bucket or the full wagon?) he likes getting to be the boss and tell me which one to point to (no idea where he gets that bossiness from, haha).

I think the Naming is my favorite page because there’s so many ways to use it. Right now we just name the pictures, or I give him clues and have him guess like “I’m thinking about something we put on our feet” He hasn’t figured out that there’s something the same about all of the pictures on the page, but gets really excited when I point it out, and likes to think of other things with stripes like his favorite shirt or something I’m wearing.

As he gets more into letters and letter sounds, we’ll be able to talk about things like “Which picture starts with ffffffffff?” and “I’m thinking about something that starts with ssssssss and slithers on the ground.” He can also be the boss and and tell me a letter name and ask me which sound it makes, or show me a letter on the page and have me make the sound.

If you’re like us, and don’t always have time to pinterest or instagram language activities for your kiddos, or honestly, even get to the library all the time, I think this magazine is worth checking out.