Flipping Roles

Here's an idea that puts the children in charge of an everyday task, allowing younger children to develop their language and communication skills. It can be used for individual children or a small group of 2-5.

What you will need:

1. Paint supplies – paint, brushes, paper, aprons. 

2. Snack time supplies – cups, juice, bowls, snacks (fruit/vegetables). 

3. Something to obscure the supplies from view, such as a canvas bag or sheet. 

Preparing the activity

For either painting or snack time have the familiar supplies to hand, but hidden from the children’s sight (in a bag, cupboard or under a sheet).

Doing the activity:

Tell the child/children that you will be doing the chosen activity but that, this time, they are in charge. They must tell you what is needed, where you should put it and what to do with it (for example, put the fruit in a bowl, put the apron on). 

You must do exactly what the children say. If the children get mixed up with the arrangement/order of items, allow and encourage them to work out what is wrong. Push them to think about anything that is missing, however let them come to their own conclusions on what needs to be added or changed. 

Depending on your assessment of younger children, and if they are struggling to remember what is needed, it may be helpful to have the items on display and let them simply dictate the order and placement. 


Tell the children that you are now their ‘robot’ and that they can tell you what to do and where to go. Encourage them to use simple instructions such as ‘walk three steps’ or ‘pick up the pencil’. 

In the case of younger children, they may want to join in the steps alongside you. Encourage them to direct you with what they are doing and saying, counting along with the steps and mimicking your movements. 

Tracking the activity

16-26 months 

Communication and Language: Speaking: “Beginning to put two words together (e.g. ‘want ball’, ‘more juice’); Beginning to talk about people and things that are not present.” 

22-36 months 

Communication and Language: Speaking: “Uses language as a powerful means of widening contacts, sharing feelings, experiences and thoughts.; Uses simple sentences (e.g.’ Mummy gonna work.’)” 

30-50 months 

Communication and Language: Speaking: “Uses talk to connect ideas, explain what is happening and anticipate what might happen next, recall and relive past experiences.” 

Sharing is caring...