Written by: Katie Oxender, MA, CCC-SLP
URS Speech Language Pathologist
It’s summer – a time to take a break, unwind, and spend some time outdoors! School may be out, but that doesn’t mean speech and language skills have to take a break. No matter your child’s age, he or she can benefit from continued speech and language instruction over the summer. This instruction doesn’t have to be structured like your typical classroom. There are plenty of fun ways to target speech and language skills by incorporating them into regular summer activities! Check out our suggestions below:
- Take a walk: You can work on receptive and expressive vocabulary skills during neighborhood walks. Play “I Spy”, describe something you see, and have your child find it. You can make this very simple for early language learners, such as “show me the car” or “show me the tree”. You can make it a bit harder by adding in some modifiers, such as “show me the blue car” or “show me the tall tree”. You can make it even more complex by adding in other concepts such as “show me the car between the white car and the red car” or “show me the third tree on the street”. You can even let your child be the teacher and allow him or her to use their expressive vocabulary and description skills to tell you what to point to.
- Backyard scavenger hunt: For children working on a specific speech sound, you can print pictures or find objects in your home that start with that sound, hide them around your backyard, and have your child find them. Encourage your child to label each picture or use the word in a phrase or sentence. If it’s a rainy day, you can tape the pictures on a wall in a dark room and have your child shine a flashlight on each picture!
- Sidewalk chalk: You can have your child use chalk to draw and work on following directions at any level – 1 step or multi-step directions that range from simple to more complex with various concepts. You can incorporate shapes, letters, colors, size concepts (big, small, short, tall), location concepts (above/below, next to/far away, right/left, bottom/top) or sequential concepts (first, next, last). The possibilities are endless and can be tailored to fit your child’s current skill level and language learning needs.
- Blow bubbles: This is a great activity for early language learners. You can work on turn-taking skills which are important for communication and conversation. You can target early developing sounds like P, B, and M by practicing the words “pop”, “blow”, “more” and “bubble”. You can practice body part identification by popping bubbles using your hand, finger, foot, toe, nose, or head. You can model short phrases, such as “that’s a big bubble”, “yay, you popped it!” or “I want more”, and encourage your child to imitate them.
Enjoy your summer, but don’t forget about those important speech and language skills! Incorporating them into fun and enjoyable activities can encourage your child to practice all summer long!