Literacy Teaching Toolkit video: Developing conversation and social skills

This video explores how educators can develop children’s early conversation and social skills by creating engaging learning experiences.

In the Developing conversation and social skills video, the educators describe and demonstrate the importance of responding to children’s interests, engaging in early conversations, and learning social skills through guided and child-directed play.

Reflective practice


  • The flexibility of the educator playing outside with children.
  • The way that the educator had a plan in mind, but changed her plan according to the interests of the children.
  • The way this educator responds to, and then extends upon children’s interests.
  • The educators facilitating conversational turns during an everyday situation.
  • The facilitation of conversations and interaction between young children.
  • The use of environmental and functional print used in the Play Café experience.
  • The ways that children build upon the educator’s modelling of serving customers at the café.

Reflection questions

  • What learning did you observe? How do you know?
  • Why is it important to allow for planned and spontaneous learning experiences?
  • In your practice, how do you provide resources and experiences for children to develop their friendships with each other?
  • Why are modelling and facilitation important parts of developing children’s social skills during play?
  • What additional strategies can educators use to facilitate children’s conversation and social skills?
  • How do the educators in this video engage children in meaningful interactions?
  • How do the educators alternate between adult-led, guided, and play and learning in these experiences?
  • What are the similarities/differences between the educators in the video and your own practice?

Learning experience plan (Play Café)

This learning experience plan relates to:

  • integrated language and literacy experience
  • early communicators, early language users, language and emergent literacy learners (birth - 60 months)
  • learning focus: conversation and social skill, concepts of print
  • teaching practice: play, sociodramatic play.

Links to VEYLDF

Outcome 2: community

Children develop a sense of belonging to groups and communities and an understanding of the reciprocal rights and responsibilities necessary for active civic participation:

  • cooperate with others and negotiate roles and relationships in play episodes and group experiences.

Outcome 5: communication

Children interact verbally and non-verbally with others for a range of purposes:

  • exchange ideas, feelings and understandings using language and representations in play.

Children engage with a range of texts and get meaning from these texts:

  • take on roles of literacy and numeracy users in their play.

Victorian curriculum levels F-2: language and literacy

  • Understand the use of vocabulary in familiar contexts related to everyday experiences, personal interests and topics taught at school.
  • Listen to and respond orally to texts and to the communication of others in informal and structured classroom situations using interaction skills, including listening, while others speak.

Learning intentions

  • Developing children’s ability to play social roles (for example customer, barista).
  • Building children’s awareness of environmental print and concepts of print.

Assessment of learning

This is demonstrated when children:

  • use language and nonverbal communication suited to the role of customer or barista.
  • show interest in environmental print, and demonstrate awareness of the connections between pictures, print, and real life.


  • Café corner including coffee machine, cash register, card machine (or equivalent)
  • Cups, plates, pretend food, pretend money and/or cards
  • Environmental print (for example signs, labels, instructions on how to make coffee).

Group size

Individuals or small group (2-5 children).

Experience process

Before the experience

Set up the café corner/area, including play materials and environmental print.

  1. Invite children to join you at the café, and see if they would like to be a customer or the barista first.
  2. Facilitate children’s engagement with the materials, by modelling how to take orders, receive payment, make the coffee, and serve it:
    • use language to describe what you are doing (parallel talk) and engage the children in the play experience.
  3. Engage in print referencing, using the available labels, menus, and posters and instructions, describing how to use them during play.
  4. Invite children to swap roles by asking if they can make you or one of the other children a coffee or take their order:
    • encourage and scaffold children through these actions and uses of language as needed.

Going further

This experience can be extended by:

  • allowing children to engage with the materials and play in the café independently, with minimal educator support
  • creating further experiences to learn about concepts related to the café (for example reading with children, discussions and investigations, performing arts, fine arts experiences).

Additional and alternate resources

This experience can be adapted to focus on other play scenarios, for example:

  • Doctor’s office / Hospital
  • restaurant
  • grocery store
  • hardware store
  • post office
  • office
  • aquarium/zoo/vet
  • camping.

Related videos and learning experience plans


Experience plans

Links to sections