- Sarah Cicconetti, MA, CCC-SLP
Spring Brings Speech Things
With warmer weather approaching, it’s time to get out of the house and play! Springtime and outdoor adventures bring a multitude of speech and language opportunities for families. Hiking, biking, walks around the block, sidewalk chalk, parks and playgrounds, tag in the yard--all these activities are loaded with speech potential.
Kids can work on expressive language skills--how they communicate--such as: verbs (jumping, rides), pronouns (I, me, he/she), paired words, articulation, describing, synonyms, antonyms, answering questions (what, who, etc.), or telling stories.
Kids can also work on receptive language skills--how they understand--such as critical thinking, following directions, inferences (clues), rhyming, categories, and multiple meaning words.
Here are a few ideas about how to incorporate these skills into your spring play. And while all these ideas are fun to do at home, taking your kids outside (even the backyard) stimulates children more and encourages increased development and growth. Start some of these activities on the drive to fun places so your kids brains are engaged and they’re ready to talk!
At the park
Talk about what people are doing. Have your children use pronouns to describe what they or other children are doing. I play, I climb, I jump or he slide, she swing.
Use endings on verbs! If your child is 2 ½ start using ING when you label verbs; have them practice saying what they’re doing “I running, I jumping!”
If your kiddo is 3-4 use S and ES on verbs to describe actions: he pulls, she pushes!
If your kiddo is 5+ start using some past tense verbs, ask them “What happened?!” Let them describe what ‘just happened’ in past tense: he jumped, she fell.
In the woods
Label everything! Have your kids tell you what they see and hear. Labeling is a great way for kids to work on their vocabulary.
Describe what you see; talk about what objects look like, what they do, where they come from and how they feel.
Play I spy. Give your child clues about what you see so they can guess based on descriptions they hear; focus on colors, categories, shapes/sizes, locations, functions, and parts. Try to vary what you describe, so you aren’t always giving a function or a color.
On a trail
Outdoors are great places to practice opposites, give your child a word and have them tell you the opposite of it. The leaf fell down, the sun is _____; or the water is wet, but the ground is ____.
Practice sequencing and following directions by giving your kids 2-4 steps in a row to follow. It can be anything! Tell them to jump over the stick, hop like a bunny, and clap 3x. There will be lots of movement to help increase their focus and energy.
Use word families (-at, -ot, -up) to practice rhyming words. “Cat, at, at, at...what rhymes with cat?” If rhyming is too easy, try giving them 3 or 4 rhyming words in a row and see if they can repeat them back to you.
If your kiddo is working on articulation, have them find things with their speech sound in the word.