Fun in the Summer Sun:
Language Based Activities to Enhance Speech & Language Skills During the Summer
Summer is here and school is out. It's time to enjoy the extra time you have with your child. I have compiled some fun activities for the summer that encourage and promote speech and language skills in the natural environment. Remember you are your child's #1 teacher. Hope you relax and have fun!
Play with sidewalk chalk: Draw pictures of different shapes, animals, clothing, vehicles, toys, common household items and summer items. Ask your child to "Find the ____" and answer "What is this?". Play a listening and following directions game by asking your child to step on the pictures as you name them or describe them (find the one that says "moo"). Other directions can include, "hop to the ball, jump on the sun, skip to the shovel, bear crawl to the square, hop to the boat and the shorts."
Take a Walk: You can walk around the block, on the beach or take a hike in a park. As you walk, name things that you see and use describing words such as "I see a green leaf, I found a yellow flower, look at the crashing waves, we are climbing a steep hill." Play a game of "I Spy" to work on colors and descriptions... "I spy something green (grass), I spy something wet (ocean, sprinkler, lake), I spy something hot (sun).
Plan a Treasure Hunt: Choose 5 items to hide around the house or outside. Give your child clues about where to find the hidden objects. This is a great game to work on prepositions... "look under the couch, next to the tree, in back of the chair, on top of the blanket", etc. Then let your child hide the items and encourage him or her to describe where the items are using descriptive words and location concepts.
Create a personal placemat: You can use pictures from magazines, coloring books, newspaper or print out your own pictures from the computer. You can look through magazines together and ask your child to "find 3 foods that are cold, find 3 things you wear in the summer, find 3 blue things, find 3 things you can ride, find 3 things that are the shape of a circle, find 3 things you can eat for breakfast." This activity encourages vocabulary, categorizaion, problem solving, listening skills and following directions. Have your child glue the pictures onto construction paper. You can also laminate or cover with contact paper and your child can use it at mealtime. It's a great conversaton piece for your child to share with friends and family.
Cook together: Kids love to help mom or dad in the kitchen and creating snacks together is fun. Simpe recipes target a variety of language skills: following directions, vocabulary, concepts, descriptive words, sequencing and if you have more than one child- turn taking skills. Talk about all your ingredients and materials. It's a great way to learn new foods and names of utensils. Also work on sequencing skills- this is what we do first, next and last. The best part is you get to eat your work when you are done!
Make pudding, chocolate milk, ice tea, lemonade, smoothies with fruit, sandwiches, decorate cupcakes, fruit salad, cookies, ice cream sundaes with a variety of toppings, cut up fruit such as watermelon and canteloupe with cookie cutter shapes.
Have a picnic: You can do this outside in your backyard, in the park or on your livingroom floor. Plan a menu and go grocery shopping together to find your picnic items. Print off pictures of your itmes from the internet to make a picture list for your child to "read". They can match the items in the store to the pictures on their grocery list. Work on concepts "in" and "out" when putting items inside the shopping cart/ bags and when taking them out of the shopping cart/bags. Practice counting by having your child hand out plates and napkins and cups to everyone. (How many plates do we need?) Embed pretend play into the picnic by pretending to drive the car (if you are still home) or setting a place for and "talking to" a favorite stuffed animal or character figurine.
Pool and swim play: You can work on concepts of wet/ dry/ in / out/ up/ down/ under/ cold/ warm/ hot as well as body parts. Give your child directions such as "dry both your legs, dry your elbows). Play pool games like tossing a beach ball back and forth to work on interaction skils, hide pool toys to work on directions ("Find the red ball,find the yellow fish, Get the fish and then the turtle").
Read a Book: Explore new adventures and read about them in books before going there- get a book about the beach, swimming, going to the zoo, etc. Books provide children the opportunity to learn new vocabulary, concepts, ask questions, answer questions, expand utterances and sequence events by retelling the story. Reading about places you haven't visited before you go is also good for children who may become anxious or fearful of new experiences. Visit your library to take out books you don't have to buy them. Repetition is very important for learning. Read the same story over and over again. Children learn more each time a story is read. Ask what/ where/ who questions to improve comprehension skills.
Blow Bubbles: Blowing bubbles is not only fun and a great reason to spend time outside but it helps develop oral motor skills, breathing skills, turn taking, social skills and language skills ... "You blew a big bubble, I blew a little bubble, The bubble popped, Blow the bubble over the flower, The bubble popped on the grass, The bubble went under the chair."
Go to the beach: Have fun building sandcastles while developing language skills with concepts: wet/ dry/ empty/ full/ in / out/ on top/ dig/ pour/ pat/ big/ little.
Play a board game: Playing board games encourages turn taking skills, social skills, vocabulary, concepts, following directions and understanding/ tolerating winning and losing by being a good sport. Some good preschool games include: Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Go Fish, Lucy Ducks, Zingo, Memory, Don't Spill th Beans, Hungry Hungry Hippo, Cat in the Hat, UNO Moo Animal Matching Farm game, Count Your Chickens, Hi HO Cherry-O, Spot it!, Cranium Cariboo and Cranium Hullabaloo.
Make a summer scrapbook: Take pictures throughout the summer of all the different activities you and your child do. Print out the pictures and make a scrapbook. Children love seeing themselves in pictures. This is a great way to help them remember all the fun things they did, review new vocabulry, work on sequencing and answer wh- questions about their adventures. They can glue/ tape the pictures on paper dictate a sentence or two to you about what they are doing. Where did you go? Who was there? What did you see? What did you do? Great way to build sentence length and language skills. You can also save ticket stubs and brochures from special outings to put in the scrapbook. Encourage your child to share and talk about the book with friends and family.
Make a sound book: Help your child make a book of pictures that include his or her speech sound or sounds. Look through magazines, the newspaper, catalogs or print pictures off the internet. Glue them on paper or in a notebook and practice the words once a week. Make up sentences with each word.
Take a day trip: Take trips to local parks, museums, beaches, zoos, amusement parks, water parks etc. These activities are fun but also provide opportunities for your child to experience things in their community that help them build background knowledge- an important base of personal experiences that are essential for reading comprehension and learning. Life experiences help broaden vocabulary and facilitate personal connections to stories and text. These connections help children with paraticipating in group discussions and reading new material.
Schedule Playdates: Playdates are wonderful opportunities to facilitate and encourage social skills, play skillls, turn taking skills and to reinforce and generalize previously learned speech and language skills. Approximately 2 hours is a good amount of time for a play date to provide time for play, exploration and a snack. Fun activities include bubbles, balls, building blocks, puzzles, sprinkler play.