He Kēmu mō te Nohinohi (2-4 Years)

The key to optimising the language skills of a young child is to expose them to as many interesting things as possible every day. Later, you can talk together to check back on their understanding and to see whether they have remembered words that you used. Games that help pēpi to talk with you (and not have a one-way flow) and teach them concepts like nui/iti, tahi/rua..., matekai/ngenge are all helpful at this stage. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.


Maumahara/Memory (using cards)


Buy or make cards with bright interesting pictures on them.  You need identical images in sets of two (or four of the same makes it easier).  Lie all the cards face down Each person takes a turn to turn over two cards.  If those cards are the same, the person takes those two cards and gets another turn.  If the cards do not match, the next person gets a turn.  Continue in this way until there are no more cards.  Help your tamaiti to count up how many cards you each collected.

A lot of children won't recognise numbers until they are a bit older, so pictures are a great way to start. 

He kupu āwhina:

  • Me whakarite tāua i ngā kāri nei. Let's prepare the cards.

  • Ka tohatoha au i ngā kāri. I'll deal the cards out.

  • Kia tāpapa/anga whakararo ngā kāri katoa. All the cards are face down.

  • Hurihia ngā kāri e rua. Turn two cards over.

  • Kei te tīraha/anga whakarunga tonu tēnā. That's still lying face-up.

  • Kei a koe ināianei/Māu te whiriwhiri ināianei. It's your turn now.


Maumahara/Memory (using objects)


Select some objects that your tamaiti particularly enjoys playing with.  This could include kitchen items, plastic animals, feeding utensils, their special blanket, and so on.  Place them all on a surface and ask/point and name each item you have selected. Ask your tamaiti to repeat the names after you.  Cover the objects with a towel and ask your tamaiti to name as many objects as they can.

He kupu āwhina:

  • Ka uhia ngā rawa nei.These objects will be covered.

  • Tuatahi, ka whakaingoa au i tēnā, i tēnā, hei āwhina i a koe. First, I'll point out and name each object to help you [remember them].

  • Me whai kia maumahara koe ki ēnei mea katoa. Pay attention note so that you remember all of the objects.

Tinana Whīwhiwhi/Twister


For something a little more active, try pulling out your Twister board and calling out all the directions in Māori.  Don't forget....pēpi would love you to get involved, too!  This game will also help to reinforce the words that are beginning to make sense to pēpi like runga, raro, roto.  At this age, pēpi may still get words like au, ia and koe mixed up - so Twister is also great to help them sort out which is which.

He kupu āwhina:

  • Kua whīwhiwhi katoa tāua! We're all tangled up!

  • Tau kē! Awesome.

  • Tīwheratia ō waewae. Stretch the legs wide apart.

  • Me hōkari ngā waewae. Stretch the legs out length-wise.

  • Torona atu tō ringa matau. Reach out your right arm.