As you know, summertime offers endless opportunities to head outdoors, soak in some sunshine, and play the day away! What you may not know is just how easy it is to promote speech and language skills within these outdoor, play-based activities.

Here are three activities to keep in your pocket this summer as you work to build your child’s vocabulary, literacy skills, direction-following, and more!

Lace Up Your Shoes and Head Out For a Walk

A little fresh air and exercise benefits everyone! Have a little fun exploring your neighborhood or local park!

“X Marks the Spot”

Before heading out the door, draw up a map of all the places you’d like to stop on your adventure. “X” marks the spot! Build expressive and receptive language skills as you take turns giving and following directions to reach your destination.

“I Spy”

Along the way, play a game or two of “I spy” to sharpen your child’s use of descriptive language. Challenge them to describe the item in a variety of ways such as its shape, color, function, category, material, and more!

Scavenger Hunt

Embarking on a scavenger hunt serves as the perfect way to get moving and see all that nature has to offer. Print out a scavenger hunt worksheet like this one here and your child will use all five senses as they search for different items! Scavenger hunts are the perfect way to talk about what you find using a variety of describing words. Happy scavenging!

Read Outside

Just because school’s out doesn’t mean the books need to start collecting dust, right? Build your child’s excitement to read by taking the reading outdoors.

Let your child find their book of choice and pick where they’d like to read- on the playset, under the oak tree, poolside, or wherever their imagination takes them! Here is a list of skills that can be targeted while reading a favorite book:

  • Answering a variety of WH-Questions (i.e. who?, what?, when?, where?, why?, how?)
  • Modeling and discussing new vocabulary
  • Story retell after the story has been read
  • Sequencing the storyline and discussing what happened first, second, last, etc.

Have a Picnic

After a long day of play, you might find your stomachs grumbling and ready for a treat. Practice direction-following as you work together to whip up a new snack!

Pack up your creation in a picnic basket, grab a blanket, and head to your backyard or nearest park. Once settled, take turns munching and rating your new snack on a scale of 1-10! Describe what it is you do or do not love about the food’s flavor, appearance, or texture.

Even better, use this opportunity to connect, practice a bit of mindfulness, and talk about the wonderful day you shared!

We hope you’re able to carve out time this summer to head outside and connect with your child in a fun and meaningful way. Check in with us and let us know what activity your child enjoyed the most!

Written by: Alysa Meinke, MS, CCC-SLP