SUMMER! It’s that time of year again and with that comes “summer break!”, a phrase that brings joy and a bit of nervousness for parents. As a speech language pathologist, a question heard often from families this time of year is “what can we do at home?”. We love this question, because speech practice can be done from anywhere! I wanted to share with you a few ideas that can be quick, easy, effective, and FUN.
Chalk is a must-have for summer days. As a child, I can remember drawing endless hopscotch mazes in the cul-de-sac with my neighbors and racing to the finish line. Let your kids have a great time being creative drawing their own courses on the driveway, but encourage him/her to practice speech sounds. For example, you or your child could write or draw pictures of speech words in each square of hopscotch, so that each time he/she jumps on a square, he/she practices saying the words.
I also love tracing bodies in chalk and decorating them with funny faces, clothes, etc. This gives your child opportunity to describe the person, label items, or tell a story about what the person is doing.
Scavenger hunts are so fun and can be so beneficial for speech and language goals. For a child working on speech sounds, you can hide objects or pictures with his/her target sound. Let him/her find them as fast as possible! As your child finds them, he/she can say the word a certain amount of times or describe where it is using prepositions (“under the trampoline”). He/she can also practice inferences or guess where the next item will be (“I think the tennis ball will be in the mailbox”). This is also fun as a “flash light scavenger hunt”. You can tape your practice words around the house and turn off the lights or hide objects outside at night-time. Hand your child a flashlight and then go find the words! He/she can say the words as they find them!
You can never go wrong with a game of I Spy. This is a favorite of mine, because it can be easily adapted to match your child’s goals. For younger children who are working on building vocabulary, this will give them a chance to identify and label objects and actions around the house, playground, beach, outside, etc. This is also a great time for you to draw your child’s attention to items and expand on what they say with one or two words. If your child says “bunny”, you could say “bunny hop”, “gray bunny”, or “I see a bunny”. For the older children, this game works well as a description game. For example, you could say “I spy something with a red circle, a yellow circle, and a green circle, and it tells us when to stop and go.” You can adapt this to your child’s level using more or less descriptors (colors, shapes, numbers, adjectives, actions, etc.). Be creative!
In the car
We know you stay busy, so here are some quick and easy car ride activities that you can incorporate while driving your kid(s) around town during the day. As mentioned earlier, “I Spy” is a great car game! See above for how to adapt this game for speech and language targets!
Another great activity to do in the car is to simply talk about your child’s day. For example, saying “tell me what you did today” could turn into practicing more specific wh- questions (“what did you at the playground?” , “who did you play with?”, “where did you eat?”). If answering open-ended wh- questions is difficulty for your child, consider giving them choices (“who did you play with? Johnny or Ben?”) Depending on your child’s goals, you can make sure they are using complete sentences, pronouns, correct grammar, etc.
Make up a story. This is a great game for memory, story elements, expanding on phrases, using creative vocabulary, and the list goes on. You can start a story by saying something like “Once upon a time Johnny went to the beach with a shovel and a bucket…”. Each person in the car can take turns adding to the story. If this is too difficult for your child, consider giving him/her prompts to develop ideas such as “Johnny has a shovel. What could he do with it?”. Aside from helping your child with understanding literacy skills, you can also target speech sounds if they have that as a goal. For example, if your child’s target is words beginning in “sh”, you can say “tell me more about what Johnny can do with the shovel”.
Speech and language practice can be done anywhere and adapted to fit your summer day in so many ways! You know your child best! Be creative and make it fun! Happy summer!