This activity is aimed at young children from 2-3 years of age and aims to develop their understanding of language and ability to follow instructions.

What will this activity help with?

Core area: Language comprehension

Age: 2-3 year olds

Between age 2 and 3, your child should be able to follow instructions containing two to three information carrying words.

Information carrying words are the words that have to be understood in order to accurately understand a sentence or follow an instruction (insert link to ICWs handout/info?). 

Within this activity, your child will have opportunities to listen to and follow instructions whilst having fun within a pretend play activity.


  • You will need a selection of teddies/dolls, plates/cups/bowls and pretend play food items. If you don’t have play plates/foods, you could use real items from your home. 
  • Set up a teddy bears’ picnic, labelling the items as you lay them out e.g. ‘teddy’, ‘dolly’, ‘plate’, ‘bowl’ ‘cup’ etc. 
  • Then, give your child a 2 ICW instruction to follow (e.g. ‘give the apple to teddy’ – see enclosed for further examples). 
  • If your child is able to follow this with ease, try a 3 ICW instruction (e.g. ‘put the apple on teddy’s plate’ – with a choice of plate/bowl). 
  • Continue providing instructions until the food has been shared out between the teddies/dolls.


2 ICWs

  • Give the apple to teddy
  • Give the beans to dolly 
  • Make teddy drink
  • Make dolly eat 

3 ICWs

  • Put the banana on teddy’s plate
  • Put the beans in dolly’s bowl
  • Give the green apple to teddy
  • Give the red apple to dolly 

Top tips

  • Reduce distractions by turning off background noise such as the TV or radio. 
  • When giving your child instructions, ensure you have their attention  by getting down on their level and saying their name first.
  • Once your child has followed your instruction, again model the language e.g. ‘teddy has an apple on his plate’.  
  • If your child struggles to follow a 2 ICW instruction, reduce this down to 1 ICW. For example, if they struggle to follow ‘give the apple to teddy’ you could say ‘find the apple’ and then model ‘I’m giving the apple to teddy’ – showing your child what to do. 
  • If your child is able to follow 3 ICW instructions with ease, try a 4 ICW instruction, such as ‘put an apple and an orange on teddy’s plate’. 
  • To extend this activity, you could carry out a play sequence in which you feed the teddies, or carry out daily activities e.g. bath time with teddies, in which you model language such as ‘wash teddy’, ‘wash dolly’, ‘wash teddy’s ears’, ‘wash dolly’s nose’.  You could then complete the sequence by putting the teddies and dolls to bed and reading them a bedtime s