It’s been a very long spring here in New Jersey. Our temperatures have fluctuated every day and it seems like those sunny, warm days are few and far between. We even had snow showers on Mother’s Day! When we do have sunshine, it makes me look forward to summer days.
With summer quickly approaching, there are many different activities that you can do to target speech and language skills. Although some of these activities work best outside, you can certainly adapt them to the house or garage if it’s raining or chilly outside.
1. Water Tables
I’m a huge fan of water tables. Not only are they entertaining for children as young as 1 year, they can also hold the interest of preschool-aged children, as well. We got our water table from Babies R Us before they went out of business, but you can also find them on Amazon or from Buy Buy Baby.
Most of the tables come with little toys that you can use to target language, but if they don’t, you can use any toys from around your house that are ok to get wet. If you use them year after year, they get so dirty that bleach doesn’t even get them clean. So be prepared to buy more toys or get creative.
A game you can play is to have your child try and throw the animal/toy into the water. Before they throw it, have them tell you what the object is that they are throwing. You can also add movement into the game by having them do jumping jacks or squats every time they miss. If you’re playing with a young child (1 year), you can have them attempt to imitate the first sound or even make the sound associated with the animal.
2. Water Balloons
This one is probably better suited for older children, but you most certainly can adapt it for younger kids, as well. Have your kids fill up different colored water balloons. As you are filling them, have them tell you to start and stop the water, describe if the balloon is full or empty, and ask them to tell you the color of the balloon.
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Once they are filled, you have to either hide them yourself and have your child find them or make your child hide them for a younger sibling. If you are hiding them for your kid to find, make sure you are taking the chance to describe where the balloon is located. Use very descriptive language like, “Take a look behind the big, tall tree.” Once the balloon is found, have your child tell you where they found it!
If your child is hiding it for a young sibling, have the older child give clues to the younger kid. It’s a good chance for them to work on turn-taking, descriptive language, and vocabulary!
3. Sand Pits
As an adult, these things are terrible, BUT kids love them. This is an activity I would definitely recommend doing outside or in an area that you don’t mind getting dirty. If you don’t have a big sand pit, you can use little containers filled with sand from the dollar store or even dirt from your backyard. Inside the pit/container, put little toys and have your child find them.
You can make things more interesting by describing a certain toy (e.g. This thing is small and silver. You use it to eat your cereal) and have them search for a specific toy. Once they find it, have them tell you what it is and what they can use it for!
4. Scavenger Hunts
This is something my daughter loves to do. You can make the scavenger hunt theme related (e.g. princess or monster). This activity can be done inside the house or outside, depending on the weather. I made my hunt princess related because Nora knows all of the princesses and has so many books that I can show her the pictures!
I showed her a picture of Ariel combing her hair with a fork. I then asked her, “what is Ariel combing her hair with?” Once she said “fork,” I told her to go and find me a fork! She LOVED it! Here are some examples of questions that I asked:
- Aurora – What is Aurora sleeping on? (Pillow)
- Elsa – Find me something cold
- Tiana – What does Tiana use to cook with? (Spoon)
- Ariel – What is Ariel combing her hair with? (Fork)
- Rapunzel – What does Rapunzel use to comb her long hair? (Brush)
- Snow White – What does the evil witch use to trick Snow White? (apple)
- Olaf – Find me something orange like Olaf’s nose!
I’m sure you can find a bunch of scavenger hunts like this on the internet!
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No matter what you are doing with your kids, as long as you are spending time with them, they will have fun. If all else fails, you can go for a nice long walk and describe what you are seeing (or smelling) while you are outside. Even if your child isn’t responding, they are paying attention, trust me!
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