Prep: None / Activity Time: 5-10 Minutes

You’ve gotten used to helping your child by giving him directions to get through a task. Well, in this activity, the tables are turned! Your child will exercise his expressive language skills by guiding you, step by step, through an activity that he knows by heart. This activity builds storytelling skills: finding the words to use to convey information, telling the steps in correct order, and thinking about the needs of the “listener.” This sample activity focuses on cleaning your teeth. However, you can use this idea with many activities, such as making a sandwich, feeding the dog, playing a game, using a toy, washing a dish or planting vegetables.

  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • dental floss
  • water
  • small cup
  • towel

Step 1: Invite your child to play a game in which he gives you directions that you have to follow.  

Step 2: Head over to the bathroom counter and tell your child that you want to get your teeth clean and you need help with directions. Ask your child to tell you the first thing you should do. Continue prompting him through the steps by asking him to tell you what's next.

The steps might go something like this:

  1. Get some floss
  2. Floss your teeth
  3. Throw the floss in the rubbish bin
  4. Get your toothbrush
  5. Rinse your toothbrush
  6. Put some toothpaste on the toothbrush
  7. Brush your teeth
  8. Spit out the extra toothpaste
  9. Rinse your toothbrush
  10. Put your toothbrush back in the holder
  11. Fill a small cup with water
  12. Rinse and spit
  13. Use your towel to wipe off any toothpaste that might be on your face
  14. Smile and check out your pearly whites!

Step 3:  Make it a fun game and help your child when he needs it. Follow your child’s directions, even if he is skipping a step. Carry out the instructions you’re given, and see if your child notices the difference and changes the instructions.

To make it easier, give visual clues. Put the items needed for this task, in order of use, on the counter top. Tell your child that you want to get your teeth clean and you need help with directions. With the items in front of you, ask your child what you should use first.  After he identifies the correct item, ask him what you should do with it. Continue asking those two questions as you go through each step.


Ask your child to draw the step-by-step instructions for tooth brushing on note cards and then use them as he also gives you verbal directions for you to follow. This makes it harder because your child needs to imagine all the steps while drawing the pictures before actually going through them with you.