Outdoor Speech Activities for Kids
Summer is finally here! That means endless beach days, more trips to the park, and activities to keep everyone nice and cool. With school out and summer adventures right around the corner, this time of the year is a great time for families to have fun with speech activities for kids outside. Every member of the family can join in and discover just how much fun working on speech and language can be. Here is a list of summertime games and activities that also target speech and language development for children, parents, and caregivers to enjoy.
It’s no secret that bubbles are a summertime favorite. Bubbles are easy to pack and can be enjoyed in any outdoor space, which makes it a perfect toy to use to target speech and language. While playing with bubbles, parents and caregivers can work on:
- Increasing a child’s joint or shared attention (wait for the child to turn towards parents/caregivers or even make eye contact before saying “go” and blowing bubbles).
- Increasing communication in order to request (ask for ‘more’ bubbles) and/or protest (communicating ‘all done’ or ‘no’).
- Following directions (give to me, pop the bubble, blow, get it, put in, take out, open, close, etc.),
- Work on turn taking skills (communicating/understanding when it is their turn and when it is someone else’s turn).
I spy is an easy game that parents/caregivers can play with their children anytime, anywhere! Playing I spy can work on:
- Increasing a child’s ability to identify age-appropriate objects.
- Increase understanding of categories.
- Increase the ability to use and understand descriptive language.
Whether it be a pool, a hose, sprinklers, water balloons, the ocean or water guns, water play is a super fun and cool activity that children and parents/caregivers can enjoy. During water play, kids and parents/caregivers can:
- Work on turn taking skills.
- Use and understand verbal routines (ready, set… [pause] GO!).
- Work on following directions (e.g., jump in, throw it, come out, run here, etc.).
- Increase use/understanding of age-appropriate nouns (e.g., water toys, body parts, people, etc.).
- Increase use/understanding of verbs (e.g., jump, throw, swim, float, run, walk, etc.).
Music & Dancing
Music and dancing are easy activities children and parents/caregivers can enjoy anywhere. Whether its nursery rhymes or some of today’s top (kid friendly) hits, enjoying some music is a fun way to work on kids’ speech and language. Parents/caregivers can target:
- Imitation skills (e.g., copying dance moves, sounds, song lyrics)
- Increasing yes and no skills (e.g., depending on whether or not the child likes a song/dance move/music, caregivers/parents can model ‘yes’ or ‘no’)
- Increasing use/understanding of verbs, following directions, and joint attention.
Family Tips for Summertime Speech Activities
Always remember that summer means fun for everyone. So, here are some tips to help the family feel like these speech activities for kids are more like play and less like work:
- Always provide children an opportunity to explore the activity without any demands. For example, let them chase the bubbles first and enjoy doing what they want to do with it before giving them directions.
- Use short and simple language during the activities so children are not bombarded by too many words and to set them up for communication success. For example, instead of asking, “Do you want me to blow the bubbles?” simplify the question to, “Blow bubbles?” Shortening the question makes it easier for kids to process what was said and answer the accurately. Using less words also provides a simple word or phrase model that kids can easily imitate. Parents/caregivers can always expand their sentence once the child answers to continue modeling sentences/words without putting too much demand on the child.
- Try and make sure that the activity ends on a happy note. More specifically, make sure the activity ends on a happy note by not pushing the speech and language targets too much or too hard. For example, if you notice that your child is doing well using 1-2 words and you decide to encourage them to use 2-3 words, make sure to scale back down to 1-2 words if they are not as consistent with 3 words and meet them at a level they are comfortable in during the activity.
- Always remember to go with the flow. For example, if the activity you have in mind is bubbles, but the child doesn’t seem to be interested in it and/or they move on to a different toy, follow their lead. Save the bubbles for a different time and try to target what you can with whatever toy/activity they are interested in.
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About the Author
Amanda is a Speech Language Pathology Assistant at NAPA Centre, with more than 5 years of experience working in the communicative disorders field. As a bilingual therapist, she is motivated and determined to encourage communication in any way shape or form. She enjoys eating spicy foods, binge watching shows on Netflix, and eating mochi donuts with her husband, her cat, Hendrix, and her dog, Lebowski.