Are you sick of sitting in the house because of the snow and cold? Have you had enough with trying to think of activities to do with your kids inside to work on expressive and receptive language? Well, no more, it is spring and this post will help you find some fresh ideas to get your family out of the house and continue to work on those language skills in a new and exciting environment.
You know what they say April showers bring May flowers… well what better way to have fun and expose your children to “rain” vocabulary. Getting out in the rain with rain boots, umbrellas, and ponchos is a great way to work on expressive and receptive, as well as, vocabulary. Just explain to your child what an umbrella is, or a raindrop will help increase vocabulary. When playing in the rain, you can jump in puddles and use exclamatory words such as “wow”, “oooh”, and “yay” can help kids with speech delay, giving them some more word association. I am sure you can come up with a few games/activities you can do on your own as well!
Since we have rain to make flowers, why not plant some flowers or another plant with your little ones this spring in a pot or outside in a garden. They can get their hands dirty and learn about nature at the same time. Hands on activities like this are just what some kids crave for when they are busy inside all day with school.
Take your family and friends to a farm this spring. There are many farms in the Madison area that families can visit. You can explore the farm, see the vegetation it has to offer, and interact with animals on a personal level. This is a good place to work on environmental sounds (e.g., moo, bah, tweek tweek, vroom, vroom) that are associated with items such as tractors and animals.
Another fun activity to do with your family this spring is chalk drawing. Whether it’s in your driveway or on the sidewalk this is an awesome way to practice receptive and expressive language. You can practice follow directions, ask your child to pick a certain color or draw a certain thing on the ground. You can ask them to identify what you draw or use things that they draw to create sentences.
Washing the family car can be another great way to get outside in the spring. There are so many things you can incorporate into this activity. From working on imitating early developing sounds/words (e.g./b/ for bubbles, /w/ and wawa for water), targeting environmental sounds (e.g. beep beep, vroom, etc.), and working on verbs (e.g. drive, drove, park, park) there are so many ways to involve everyday activities into language practice.
Picnics are a great way to get the whole family together for a day out of the house. In the spring when it isn’t wet and flowers are starting to bloom a picnic in the park is a perfect way to work on language. Pick a variety of foods and activities (i.e. games or conversation activities) to take with you in your basket and anything can happen. Going to the park for a picnic is a great way to work on social language as well such as polite terms/actions (i.e., please and thank you), interacting with peers and unfamiliar individuals, as well as, flexible thinking when asked to do things outside of their comfort zones.
Another fun thing to do in the Spring is take a hike/ride a bike. There are so many opportunities to use language when we are moving from place to place and seeing so many different things. You can have a race and your child can tell you when to “stop” and “go”. You can talk about categories such as ‘how many plants to do you see throughout your walk?” Or ask them to name different things found in a park or found in the sky, etc.
When riding a bike or choosing to walk you can practice conversation with your kids. You can practice taking turns in a conversation, asking about each other’s day. You can also work on initiating conversation based on the people and things you see in the environment. Let your imagination go wild and I’m sure you can come up with many more fun things to do!
Whatever you decide to do this spring, I hope these activities give you some new ideas or remind you of some old activities that you can add a new twist to. When trying to elicit language anything and everything is fair game, just remember the options are endless.
Sarah Van Duinen, MA, CCC-SLP
Speech & Language Pathologist