Mar 15, 2020 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.
At-home speech therapy activities? What does this mean exactly? When can you do it at home, and what activities are best? Does cooking with children count?
Everyday household tasks or chores like cooking with kids can become productive speaking opportunities if you know how to use them. In this blog, I’m going to show you how you can boost your child’s speech and language development while making a simple fruit salad. Yum!
1. Target Their vocabulary
Put everything that you 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 trouble.
2. Name the Categories
You use 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 names your child doesn’t know and 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 great chance for speech, language, and reasoning. If your child struggles help them step-by-step with prompts:
- “What do we do with fruit?”
- “. . . do with a knife?”
- “. . . 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 work on following directions without your child knowing they are doing therapy at all. You can start easy and slowly increase the difficulty:
- “Please pass me the apple.”
- “. . . the apple and the banana.”
- “. . . 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.”
- “. . . me two bananas, but only one apple.”
- “. . . the big knife and the small blue spoon.”
5. Take Turns
No one likes to be told what to do all through activities. The truth is that kids love being “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. Make mistakes following their directions every now and then to get them to correct you. If their direction isn’t very clear, act very confused and tell them to make it clearer, or help them if they struggle.
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 they need 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.”
Take this one step further with an older child and give them two words that they have to 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 when Cooking with Children
One of the great things about routines is that they tap into your child’s memory, which you can use to improve their speaking. While making the fruit salad, tell your child to listen carefully while you say something. Then ask them to say it back to you word-for-word. Don’t forget that you can make your sentences longer to make it harder if they’re too easy:
- “I am cutting the banana.”
- “. . . the yellow banana.”
- “. . . the biggest yellow banana.”
- “. . . 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 asking more questions when you speak with your child. A simple activity like making fruit salad can make them think more, and come to a bunch 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 with 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 telling each other stories, and then ask each other questions to see how well each of you listened and remember 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 finished the activity, sit down with your child, and ask them to tell you what you did step-by-step, to test their memory and recall. Help them when they can’t remember certain things, and even ask questions about what they’re telling you. Also “play dumb” sometimes 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.
Fruit Salad and More!
Any activity can be used for speech and language therapy, and when used with the Speech Blubs app, you and your child will be able to have fun while doing so. If you still have questions, call your local speech therapist to figure the next best steps.
Reach out when you have questions on how to use Speech Blubs to improve speech at home!