Enjoy these outdoor speech activities for kids who love the outdoors! Have fun and happy playing!
Activity #1: Playing with bubbles
Every child loves to play with bubbles. Who doesn’t? Did you know that this fun game can help develop your child’s speech and language skills? You can use bubbles to work on the following:
- Labeling: Label the bubble, bubble maker, bottle, etc.
- Following Commands: Comprehension of directions such as ‘open bottle’, ‘blow bubble’, ‘pop bubble’ etc.
- Adjectives: Use adjectives like big, small, wet, round, etc.
- Verbs: Use verbs such as pop, blow, open, close, etc.
- Turn-taking: You can take turns
Does your child have a strategy for the way he/she pops bubbles? Most do. Have them describe how they “pop” the bubbles, then repeat these words over and over. Bubbles are particularly great for providing a communication temptation, they’re spontaneous, and they’re loads of fun!
Most bubble products come in packaging that is difficult for children to open and blow on their own. This offers another great teaching opportunity to:
- Screw the lid on securely
- Hand the bubbles to your child then
- Wait and see. Your toddler may try to open the bubbles on their own; if they have trouble getting the lid open then they will likely hand it back to you – if your child hands it back to you (with those sad, curious eyes we know so well) then they have just made a request! Narrate their request by saying “more bubbles” and start blowing some more for an afternoon of fun.
Activity #2: Just Keep Swinging
Believe it or not, swings offer many teachable moments for learning, speech, and language development. You can comment “sit down” when you first sit down.
- Talk to your toddler as he/she swings with descriptions like “up” and “down”.
- Describe to them the need to “push” and how to do it. The activity of swinging is a tremendous outlet for developing communication skills because toddlers rely on their caregivers to push them.
- After you have been pushing them for some time, try pausing and waiting.
- If your toddler makes a gesture, let’s say reaches for your hand, or jiggles back and forth with their body, then they have just made a request. Narrate their request by making a statement like “more swing” and resume pushing your child on the swing!
Activity #3: Practice Your Ball Skills
Playing with a ball is another great activity for speech and language growth.
- Follow your child’s lead and watch carefully what they choose to do with the ball.
- Encourage them to “roll”, “kick” “bounce” and “throw” the ball. Then, take action by following through on your instructions of rolling, kicking, bouncing, or throwing the ball back and forth with your child.
- After a short period, rather than returning the ball, pause expectantly looking at your child’s face as a way to let them know how proud you are of how they are doing.
- Your toddler may reach for the ball or gesture to you that they want it back. You guessed it – they’ve just made a request! Narrate their request for “more ball” then roll, kick, bounce or throw it back to them for a game of catch.
Activity #4: Water Play
Water play is not only clean fun – it is a wonderful activity for encouraging growth in your child’s speech-language skills.
- Start by filling up a pool or bathtub or water table. Once filled, you can then add toys, cups, and items that you both can enjoy in a setting that can be playful, fun, and educational.
- Follow your child’s lead by allowing them to dictate what you do during water time. Watch what they are doing then narrate the actions they are taking with the toys using words like: “pour”, “sink”, “float”, or “splash”. Give them choices: ask them if they want to “pour or splash?” and pause waiting expectantly for their response.
- Narrate what they choose (i.e. “Oh splash!”) and congratulate them with constructive dialogue along the way.
Activity#5: Slide and Glide
Small slides are another fun outdoor experience for any child! And sliding is another great way to practice language learning, especially since toddlers oftentimes need help going up and down the slide. Does your child look at you and raise their hands as if they want to go “up” or as if to say they are hesitant to climb to new heights? If they look to you for help, that is a request.
- Either lift them onto the slide or help them go up the ladder and interpret their request as you demonstrate and speak the directions to them (i.e. “Oh, you want up?”).
- Narrate the request as they go “up, up, up!” and “down, down, down!” There is never enough repetition for a toddler, so continue to repeat those words over and over.
- At the top of the slide you can also pause and count down “1…2…3 (brief pause)…Go!” and watch them go down the slide. Each time you do this try pausing before “go” to wait for a return gesture, word, or movement from your child that indicates they are ready to “go”.
Keep checking back all month long for expert opinions and advice on meeting key milestones and stages in your child’s development. Coming soon include topics that address feeding your child, learning disorders such as dyslexia, and fun speech games for school-aged kids. Plus, we encourage everyone to visit the website for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) which is full of resources created in honor of BHSM month and to recognize speech-language pathology across the board. Please join us in supporting the cause and supporting our very special SLPs at CORA!
If you feel the time is right to seek an evaluation for your child from a licensed speech-language pathologist, please contact our CORA clinic nearest you or schedule an appointment today. With 24-48 hour scheduling and over 4,000 insurances accepted, our SLPs are ready to serve you in the clinic or your home with telehealth now available.
If you are interested in speech therapy services, please contact us: Therapy Services – Speech Improvement Center
If you are interested in speech therapy careers, please contact us: Employment Opportunities – Speech Improvement Center
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