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Fun Outdoor Activities to Promote Speech and Language Development

The weather is getting warmer, and kids are ready to go play outside! See below for some fun ways you can promote speech and language development during outside activities.


Chalk

  • Pronouns: Draw people with the chalk. You can have your child lay down and trace their body or draw stick figures. You can draw one boy and one girl and then practice pronouns by commenting on what they are wearing (e.g., “She has a purple hat,” “He is wearing a green shirt,” etc.).

  • Categories: Name a category (e.g., fruit, pets, vehicles, etc.), and then take turns with your child by each drawing at least 2 items in that category.

  • Following directions: You can target following directions by having your child draw what you say (e.g., First, draw a blue circle. Then, draw a pink square).

  • Articulation/ speech sounds: You can draw out a life size game board (i.e., drawing square spaces and marking a start and end point. You and your child can both stand on start and take turns rolling dice (real dice or using a free dice app). Before rolling the dice, you can have your child say a word, phrase, or sentence using his or her target speech sound.


Make your own water table! Get a large plastic container or bucket, fill it with water, and add household items or toys (e.g., cups, sponges, funnels, action figures, vehicles, toy food, etc.)

  • Vocabulary: There is so much great vocabulary you can use during this activity (e.g., sink, float, empty, full, light, heavy, pour, strain, etc.). You may also encourage vocabulary by participating in pretend play (i.e., find a doll that can go in the water and give the baby a bath).

  • Predicting: Be sure to have things that will both sink and float to put in the water. This game is great for targeting predictions. You can ask your child “Do you think this will sink or float?” and divide the items based on what your child predicts will happen when you place each item in the water. Then, test it out!

  • Articulation/ speech sounds: You can add items in the water based on your child’s target sound. If your child is working on the /k/ sound in the beginning of words, you can add a cup, toy car, can, key, etc. You can have your child take the items out of the water and encourage your child to tell you what he or she found.


Balls

  • Categories: Name a category and then take turns naming items in that category each time you throw the ball.

  • Verbs: You can tell your child how to have them get the ball back to you in order to target comprehension of verbs (e.g., bounce, throw, dribble, roll, shoot, etc.). They can also tell you how to get the ball back to them!

  • Articulation/ speech sounds: You can pass the ball back and forth saying words that begin with your child’s target sound.


Picnic: Grab a big blanket, basket with food, and head outside with your family for a picnic!

  • Sequencing: Having a picnic is a great way to work on sequencing (e.g., “First, put your sandwich in the basket. Then, put the chips in the basket. Next, put the juice boxes in. Finally, close the basket!”). You can also sequence once you are outside and have to set up the picnic.

  • Location words & basic concepts: You can reinforce the early location words “in,” “out,” and “on.” All the food starts in the basket, and you can comment each time you take food out of the basket and on your plates. You can reinforce the concepts “empty” and “full” (i.e., the chip bowl/ containers may start off full and you can comment when they change and become empty).

  • Object function: You can comment on what you use certain items for (e.g., we use the knife to cut the sandwich, we use the straw to drink the juice out of the box, etc.).


Water balloons

  • Basic concepts: Talk about the water and whether it is “hot” or “cold.” You can talk about size concepts “big” vs. “small” and also compare the balloons (e.g., bigger/smaller).

  • Verbs: You can talk about the different ways to pop the balloons (e.g., squeeze it, step on it, throw it, drop it, etc.).

  • Irregular past tense verbs: Try throwing the balloons back and forth. You can target irregular past tense verbs by saying things like “I threw it,” I caught it,” “the balloon fell,” etc.

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