Speech therapists often talk about making activities “functional” and “relevant” to your child – especially when talking about you helping your child with therapy at home.
But what does this mean exactly? When can you do it at home, and what activities are best?
Everyday household tasks or chores can become prosperous therapy opportunities if you know how to utilize them. For this blog post, I’m going to show you how you can maximize your child’s learning while making a simple fruit salad. Yum!
1. Target Their vocabulary
Put everything that you will need to make the fruit salad out and where they are clearly visible, and so your child can reach them. Ask them to name the objects and help them out when they have difficulty.
2. Name the Categories
You are using two main categories when making a fruit salad:
Help your child understand this and then break it down further. Why not split the fruit into groups based on their color or shape? You could even split them into groups based on the names your child doesn’t know and the names they do know. This is the perfect time to get creative!
- “Let’s put all the round fruit here.”
- “Can you put all the red fruit here?”
- “Where can the knife go?”
3. Make Them Think
“What do you think we are going to do today?” Such a simple question is a wonderful opportunity for speech, language, and reasoning. If your child struggles help them step by step with prompts:
- “What do we do with fruit?”
- “What do we do with a knife?”
- “What do we do with a bowl?”
- “So, if we are cutting the fruit and putting it in the bowl, what do you think we are doing?”
4. Follow Directions
This is the perfect activity to target following directions without your child realizing that they are even doing therapy at all. You can start easy and slowly increase the difficulty:
- “Please pass me the apple.”
- “Please pass me the apple and the banana.”
- “Please pass me the apple after the banana.”
- “Please pass me the apple, then peel the banana and throw the peel away.”
You could even get a bit more complicated and challenge your child with directions like:
- “Please pass me the fruit that isn’t yellow.”
- “Please pass me two bananas but only one apple.”
- “Please pass me the big knife and the small blue spoon.”
5. Take Turns
No one likes to be told what to do all through entire activities. The truth is that kids love being able to “be the boss” too. You can take advantage of that fact by telling them it’s their turn to tell you what to do. A little self-sabotage goes a long way with this technique, follow their direction incorrectly every now and then and ensure that they correct you. If their instruction doesn’t make sense, act very confused and tell them to correct their instruction, or help them along if they’re unable to.
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6. Make Sentences
Get your child to select one of the objects you’re working with and ask them to make a sentence using the name of the object:
- “The apple is round.”
- “This knife is sharp.”
- “I like apples but not bananas.”
- “I am making a fruit salad.”
Don’t limit your child to just the names of the objects you are using. Give them different kinds of words that they need to use to make a sentence:
- “Making fruit salad is fun.”
- “Mommy is cutting the banana.”
- “After we make the fruit salad, we are going to eat it.”
You could even take this one step further with an older child and give them two words that they must use in the same sentence:
- “Mommy likes fruit.”
- “I think bananas are gross.”
If your child has trouble making their own sentences, you can help them out by saying part of a sentence and asking them to complete it:
- “The apple is red, but the banana … is yellow.”
- “I’m using the knife to … cut the apple.”
7. Repeating Sentences
One of the great things about activities with routines is that they tap into your child’s memory, which you can use to strengthen their skills. During the fruit salad activity, you can instruct your child to listen carefully while you say something and then ask them to say it back to you word-for-word. Don’t forget that you can increase the length of your sentences to make it more difficult for your child if they are finding it too easy:
- “I am cutting the banana.”
- “I am cutting the yellow banana.”
- “I am cutting the biggest yellow banana.”
- “I am cutting the biggest yellow banana that looks the best.”
- “I am cutting the biggest yellow banana that looks the best because I’m hungry.”
8. Target Reasoning and Social Awareness
Everyday household chores and fun activities are perfect for delving deeper into your conversations with your child. A simple activity like fruit salad can make them think more broadly, and come to a variety of conclusions:
- “Should little kids play with knives? Why?”
- “What should you do if you cut yourself with a knife?”
- “Do you think you’ll get in trouble for playing wit a knife? Why?”
We call these “teachable moments,” and they are great for overall development as well as speech and language learning.
9. Tell Each Other Stories
You can do this during or after the activity. Take turns in telling each other stories and then asking each other questions to test how well each of you listened and remembered the story. Help your child along with some prompts if they have trouble. Get as creative as possible! The more new words you use, the better!
10. Recount What You Did
Once you have completed the activity, sit down with your child and ask them to tell you what you did step-by-step, testing their memory, and recall. Prompt them when they cannot recall certain aspects, and even ask questions about what they’re telling you. You could also “play dumb” in some instances to get them to tell you what happened in more detail:
- “Wait, so did we cut the apple first or the banana first?”
- “What did I say to you when you picked up the knife?”
If your child is older and of school-going age, you could take this one step further and ask them to write what happened and read it back to you.
Any activity can be used for speech therapy, and in combination with the Speech Blubs App, you and your child will be able to have fun while doing so.
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