Talk, Read, Sing, & Play

The early years are the best opportunity for a child’s brain to develop the connections they need to be healthy, capable, successful adults. You can help your child’s language and motor skills by talking, reading, and singing with them every day. It’s easy to do and makes a huge difference in how your child learns and grows!

Mom dancing with daughter

Why it is Important

Research has found that providing children from birth to five with consistent, language-rich experiences — such as talking, reading, and singing — can have important benefits on their brain development and future school success.

When you talk, read, and sing with your child — even before they can use words — you're helping them learn!

The more words, conversations, and stories you share with your child, the better prepared they will be to learn.

But it may not always be easy to talk to babies, especially when they can’t talk back. To help, we’ve pulled fun tips to help you talk, read, and sing with your child every day.

Join the F5 Mendocino Talk, Read, Sing, & Play Pledge

Pledge to talk, read, and sing with your children every day!

Take the Pledge

Fill out the form (below) and join the F5 Mendocino Talk, Read, Sing, & Play Pledge.

Welcome Packet

Receive a welcome packet with books, activities, a tote bag, and a library card.

Have Fun

Receive quarterly kits that include books, activities, and resources for you and your child.

Take the Pledge

Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.

— Maya Angelou

Everyday Opportunities

How to Transform Everyday Routines into Brain-building Moments Video image

Newborn Conversations

Father looking at newborn

Tips for Ways You Can Talk, Read, Sing, & Play with Your Child

Little ones are busy learning sounds, words, and phrases. They are also making connections between them and what they see. They are curious and explore the world around them. They touch, feel, see, hear, and taste. To begin a rich conversation with your child, draw on their five senses.

Talk with Your Infant

TALK

Listen to the sounds your baby makes and repeat them. When they coo, coo back. When they smile, smile back. Do this while holding their hand gently. Your loving touch combined with this mimicking is the first step in talking.

TALK

Everywhere you go, talk to your baby about what you see and what they are looking at. "Look at the cute dog." "Wow, I love that yellow flower too!"

TALK

As you feed your baby, use words to describe the food. Tell them what it tastes likes, what it feels like, and what it looks like.

Talk with Your Toddler

TALK

Everywhere you go, talk about what you see. The little things like stop signs and trees might seem boring to you, but it is a whole new world to your child.

TALK

Start teaching your child math by pointing out shapes around you. Ask your child how many sides a square or a triangle has?

TALK

Talk to them about the toys they are playing with during playtime.

Books are one of the best brain boosters. The more children are read to from an early age, the more their brains will grow and language will develop.

Read with Your Infant

READ

Read a book or tell a story to your baby every day starting at birth.

READ

Cuddle with your baby as you share a book. Even newborn babies are learning when their parents read to them.

READ

When reading, point to pictures in the book and describe them. "Look, the dog chases the ball."

Read with Your Toddler

READ

Start inspiring a love for books young by reading and telling a story to your child every day.

READ

Point to the pictures, letters, and numbers in books. Ask open-ended questions like, "What do you see? What's your favorite page? What would you do if you were here?"

READ

Get your child used to touching books by letting them turn the book's pages. It's okay if they skip pages.

Songs are a great way for kids to learn language and build vocabulary. It is also a great way for you and your child to bond. Making sounds help babies and toddlers learn how sounds are put together.

Sing with Your Infant

SING

At bedtime, hold your baby and sing your favorite song. Singing the same song over and over can help your baby feel safe and calm.

SING

Sing silly songs to help get your baby's attention when you are changing their diaper.

SING

It doesn't matter if you don't think you can sing. Your baby will love hearing your voice! To them it is comforting.

Sing with Your Toddler

SING

Sing during everyday activities like bath time or driving in the car. It can be simple, repetitive songs, like "Rock a bye baby on the tree top."

SING

Help your child learn basic math skills by singing songs that have counting or rhyming patterns. "Five little monkeys jumping on the bed, One fell off and bumped his head."

SING

Your toddler loves getting to do activities with you. Singing together is a great way to have fun together.

Play allows kids to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact with the world around them. Play helps children build confidence in the world around them.

Play with Your Infant

PLAY

Provide toys that engage many senses such as rattles, textured balls, and colorful blocks.

PLAY

Give your baby different things to look at. For example, you could use books or baby play gyms to show your baby different colors and shapes.

PLAY

Make faces with your baby. This is a game you can play together from birth. If you stick our your tongue or make an 'O' with your lips, some babies will mimic you and do the same.

Play with Your Toddler

PLAY

Play "I-Spy" at the grocery store. Pick a color and ask your child to point out objects that match the color. Play water games during bath time.

PLAY

Create an obstacle course by setting up furniture and safe household items to move around. Suggest fun movements like, "Wiggle under the chair, tiptoe around the table."

PLAY

Play games that encourage conversations. Put a few items on a tray and ask your child to look at them. Then cover the items. Ask your child to name what items are covered. Next, take one item away without your child seeing and ask which item is missing. Switch roles.

Join the F5 Mendocino Talk, Read, Sing, & Play Pledge
Pledge to talk, read, and sing with your children every day!
Pledge Form
Local Resources
  • Mendocino County Library
    The mission of the Mendocino County Library is to enrich lives through free and equitable access to materials and programs centered on education, culture, and entertainment.
    Website
General Resources
  • Administration for Children & Families: Talk, Read, and Sing Together Every Day!
    Tip Sheets for Families, Caregivers, and Early Learning Educators
    Website
  • Developmental Milestones
    Discover what to look for at each stage, from infancy through preschool.
    Website
  • First 5 California
    Everyday Opportunities for Speech, Language, and Literacy Development
    Website
  • First 5 California: Free Digital Story Book
    Download the free digital storybook, Three Brainy Birds Spreading the Word
    Website
  • Talking Is Teaching
    Information, videos, and tips for talking, reading, and singing with your child.
    Website