Usborne’s ‘That’s Not My’ books are a perennial favourite and not just in my household! It seems these books are frequently gifted, borrowed or bought by families of young children and infants. Whether it be ‘That’s Not my Truck…Dinosaur….Dog…Unicorn’ – it’s an almost endless list and one that provides for lots of opportunity to build early language skills.  Today’s blog will cover 5 skills to target using ‘That’s Not My’ books with the young child or children in your life.

1.  Understanding and saying ‘Yes’ and ‘No’
These books are perfect for supporting young children to use ‘yes’ and ‘no’.  When you read the phrase “That’s not my…” model “no” by saying the word and shaking your head. After each phrase, pause and provide lots of wait time (up to 5 seconds) so the child has the opportunity to imitate you.  On the final page you can model “yes!” and nod your head while looking visibly pleased. Again, you can pause and give the child time to imitate you too.  You can also ask yes/no questions– “Is that my elephant?… nooooo”, and model ‘no’ and shaking your head in response.  These books are great as they provide lots of opportunities for repetition throughout, so the child has plenty of opportunities to hear the target words and imitate you!

2. Encouraging symbolic sounds and exclamatory words
Oftentimes, when a little one is running late with their talking, one of the areas a speech therapist will encourage is building their symbolic sound repertoire and use of exclamatory words. Symbolic sounds are the sounds we make to match an animal or vehicle. The Usborne books are great for focusing on these kinds of animal or vehicle sounds.  You can also encourage the use of exclamatory words when the child feels the sensory patches- “oo”, “wow”, “ahh”, “ow!”, “ouch!”, “yuck”, “mmm” etc.

3. Turn taking skills
Not only are you able to take turns turning the pages in the books, you can also take turns touching the sensory patches on each page. You can model saying “my turn” when you touch the patch, and “your turn” when it is the child’s turn. You can pause and wait expectantly here too, so the child has the opportunity to take their turn.

4. Building vocabulary
I love using ‘That’s Not My’ books to target vocabulary skills. These books are perfect for targeting early vocabulary such as animal and vehicle names (cow, cat, puppy, car, bus, etc.), and body parts, and for building later vocabulary such as adjectives (curly, soft, rough, bumpy) and negation (NOT). The repetitive nature of the books means the child gets multiple opportunities to hear and use the target words too.  You can also extend the child’s learning by adding props while reading, and pointing out the features on the props as you read. E.g., find the teddy bear’s ears/nose/foot as you look at the pictures of the teddy on the printed page.

5. Building short phrases
Another skill you can target using the ‘That’s not my’ books is the use of phrases. These are two or three words that form the basis of longer sentences.  All of the pages in these books start with the same phrase “That’s not my…”, so you can pause after ‘not’ and encourage the child to say the rest “my X”, (e.g., my cat, my bear, my puppy, etc.). You can also model phrases that include the adjective to describe the object and encourage the child to use these too, e.g., “soft cat”, “shiny bus”, “bumpy wheels” etc. Again, the repetitive nature of these books means the child will hear lots of models of the target phrases.

Set yourself a challenge this week to re-think your reading of the ‘That’s Not My…’ book/s on your child’s bookshelf using one of the strategies above.  If you want more ideas for supporting early communication skills with different toys and activities, check out our other blogs here, here and here.