How to teach your child to point to body parts and verbally name them

There are many opportunities that you can take advantage of to help your little one with the understanding of body parts and her ability to verbally name her body parts.  My Katie…as seen above…probably would not remember this…..however….when she was little ……during dressing…..I was sure to make mistakes.  She loved this…and thought I was very funny and silly.   Making mistakes is a great strategy to help your little one use spontaneous language without placing a demand upon her. 

I was reminded of this strategy today when I was working with a little one.   Her socks kept coming off…she was having fun with me….and being silly about it….and loved that I was making “mistakes“…so she kept taking them off….but I used this as a learning opportunity….to help her to not only be able to label her body parts (this means her ability to verbally identify a body part I point to on her body….a doll…or on my own body)…. also in her ability to locate a body part when I say: Where’s your head?

So what can you do during dressing to help with this skill…when putting on her socks….put them on her head…well at least try to…and say: On your head?!… you point to  her head…..she will probably laugh…if she can say no…she will probably say no…and she may also tie her verbal production of the word NO with a head shake if she can.   Go through all of her body parts (not her feet though!)…try putting the socks on her hands….her belly…her nose…ears…..cheeks….knees….etc.

During my session today…the little one I see was completely hysterical…she must think I am crazy….right?!  She continued this play activity…kept taking her socks off…..saying the word NO every time I tried to put her sock on the wrong body part….she was imitating the body parts I was saying…and how wonderful…as we have been working so hard on her expressive language…so to hear her little voice is just great for all.  

To target the receptive component….meaning her ability to point to her body part when you ask her too…..I say….”Where’s your head….I’m going to put the sock on your head?……hopefully you will see her understanding.   How will you know that she is understanding?……because she says no….as she puts her hand on her head….again work through all of her body parts…trying to put the sock on her ears…hair…nose….knees….etc.

If you read under the teach me to talk page….you will find more strategies on how to elicit language in your little one.  The silly mama strategy is a favorite of mine!

Have fun with your little one or big one!


About Kim

My name is Kim Marino and I have been practicing as a licensed speech and language pathologist since 1993. I work on Long Island providing diagnostic evaluations and services to children from birth to age 21. My experience is vast and am proud to say that I work with children that may present with articulation and phonological concerns, oral motor feeding concerns, Down Syndrome feeding, cognitive rehabilitation, auditory processing delays, receptive language delays, cleft palate feeding and sound development and expressive language delays. Most importantly, I am the mother of four amazing children and am happily married to my childhood sweetheart. I feel blessed to have my four children and so lucky to share this journey in life with my husband. I always had it somewhere in my head that I wanted to develop a blog or a website of some sort so that I could provide families with an additional that parents could help their little ones become a better communicator. And as I was developing this blog....I realized that I also needed to share the stories about my life and my children....and the funny things along the way that help to keep me smiling. Whether you are a working mother or not...finding balance between home, children and life can be a challenge....I hope that my blog helps to bring a smile to your face..and also some tools to help you help your little or big one. I hope you enjoy! Kim
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4 Responses to How to teach your child to point to body parts and verbally name them

  1. Shabi says:

    Hi Kim,I am finding your website great too.I have a 16 month old son who is heving expressive and receptive language delay. Playwise he only spins everything.He can understand ‘come here’and ‘ball’ but not give and take or any other command.I wish to know about the level of understanding a 16 month old should have and how to encourage it.

    • Kim says:

      hi Shabi…use these two strategies…try them and keep me posted on how they work for you: Teach me to understand…teach me to follow directions.

      Just the other day I had a few questions from parents regarding their little one’s understanding of language and following directions…more specifically…what is a good starting point when working on following directions. If you suspect that your child is having difficulty in understanding what you are saying to him…how can you work on this skill so that he will better understand language? To start off….let’s begin with an activity that may seem really simple..but is a good starting point..and this is how I would run a therapy session if targeting a child’s ability to follow simple directions and to eventually understand language and what is said to him.

      Gather two of his favorite toys…I find starting with familiar objects works best…why because he is familiar with them…he knows what they are and what they are called…so for example in the picture see my Gregory with his toy car and some blocks. So the set up for this activity would be to have the toy car and one of the blocks in front of him…as the two of us sit on the floor facing each other…with the two objects between us.

      Now the goal is for your little one to understand the phrase: Where is the_______ orShow me the____________ or Point to the__________.

      So while sitting with your little one say:

      “Where is the car?”

      “Where is the block?”

      Does he understand what you are saying…now initially he may not understand the language Where is….however….he hears the word car…..and he is familiar with that word/object…because he plays with it so frequently….he has heard you say the word car. So when he hears you say: Where is the car….he may initially be locating the car…because he hears the word car….but eventually he will just understand the words Where is the…and will generalize to other objects familiar and unfamiliar. So once you see him following the directions with the words Where is the_______change your phrase and say: Show me the________…….and then change your phrase again to Point to the__________.

      You can make the task more challenging by saying: Give me the_________. Initially you may have to extend your hand when asking him to give you the object…but then you can phase out the visual cue (your hand extended)….and just say to him: Give me the______.


      You can again challenge him by adding more objects to the group.

      Challenge him again by using unfamiliar objects.

      More challenges….ask him to follow directions such as:Put the block in the cup (set up would be: block, cup, car, toy keys)

      Challenge: Set up:

      block, car, toy key

      also need a table and a chair

      Ask him to follow directives such as:

      Put the block under the table

      Put the car on the table

      Put the keys under the next to the car.


      When I am working with a little one on understanding skills….it is important that they learn that they have to “listen to understand.” Some children will listen….they hear you…..but they are NOT being sure to “listen to understand.”……I often tell my husband of almost 18 years (we got married in 1993)…..that I know he heard me….I know he was listening…..but he was not listening so that he understood me….so that he will remember. With the little ones….my goal is to teach them to listen so they understand and also remember.

      When I work with a little one….in order to help her to listen to understand…the session may sound something like this:

      Set up: ball, car, block and box are used during this listening task

      Therapist: “Wait”(as I hold her hands on her lap)…..”Listen” (as I tap on her ears)……”Put the ball in the box”.

      Saying these words…wait and listen while keeping her hands still and tapping on her ears…will help her to learn to listen to the direction… that she starts to understand that she has to listen to understand.

      Now with the little ones that are having difficulty in the understanding of language…I help them by using the strategy: Ready, set….Action!

      What does this mean…it means that I am tieing action and words together…..I will help her to understand the direction……..hand over hand….picking up the ball together….putting the ball in the box…..and as I am doing this with her….I am saying…..”Ball in box”

      Tieing your action with words helps your little one to understand language.

  2. Amy says:

    I am finding your blog very helpful. I have a 3 year old son who was diagnosed with an expressive speech delay around 2 1/2 years old, and I am currently waiting for him to get an evaluation with a speech therapist in our area. (we recently moved) I don’t believe he has an expressive speech delay, I think it’s something else, but no one will listen to me. I was wondering if I could email you a description of what’s going on and see if you can point me to some things i could bring up at his eval. I’m having a hard time finding anything online that sounds like what he does. Thank you.

    • Kim says:

      hi there…i would be happy to help you in any way that I can. Send me your concerns…and then I will follow up with some questions…..glad you are finding my site helpful! Speak to you soon. Kim

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