Summer is a hectic time of year for everyone, except perhaps Speech therapists. This is the time of year when people tend to miss appointments, cos lets face it there’s more fun to be had at the beach!
Bearing that in mind it’s a great idea to give parents some fun activities to work on speech and language through play.
Speech practice can be done from just about anywhere, and with minimal prep and some creativity it can still be fun and effective.
These ideas are aimed at Junior school age children (5-11), though you could do them with older kids as well.
- Choose a favourite game. Teach someone else how to play it. Think about and describe each thing you need to do, one at a time.
- Think of a place you would like to go to. Make a list of all the things you would need to take with you. These items can be organised by category.
- Learn 5 new words related to things you have done.
- Take several photos of what you have done during one particular day. Then put them in order and tell someone back the story of what you did. Make sure you talk about each picture one by one.
- Read a new book. Choose a character in the book and talk about how they felt. See how many different feeling words you can think of. you can also draw the character and discuss his/her traits.
- Learn your address (if you don’t already know it).
- On the way home from a trip out, take turns with an adult to name as many things as you can think of that you saw.
- Take a trip to somewhere you know well. See if you can give an adult directions of how to get there.
- Phone up a friend or someone in your family. Remember to say hello and goodbye and to tell them who is talking. Tell them what you have been doing that day and find out what they did too.
- Collect some objects from things that you have done during the holidays. Put them in a bag or box. Feel each one without looking and talk about what it feels like. See if you can guess what it is. Pull it out and see if you are right.
Summer Speech Sound activities
1. In the car. Most people are familiar with at least some version of the alphabet game where you take turns going through the alphabet thinking of an animal or a food that starts with each letter of the alphabet. When targeting speech sounds you can play a similar game, only instead of thinking of animals that start with the letter k you might think of as many words as you can that start with the /k/ sound like “cat,” “cookie” and “kite.” You take turns going back and forth until someone is stumped and can’t think of another word.
2. Sidewalk chalk. There is so much fun to be had and so many possibilities with side walk chalk. You could create your own hopscotch game with speech words, make your own life size board game with speech words, or simply draw and color speech words in the driveway. Let your kids have a great time expressing their creativity on the concrete canvas of the driveway all while practicing the sounds they need work on at the same time. So much fun!
3. Picture Scavenger Hunt. Go through the house and or yard and take pictures of as many things as you can that start with your target sound. Whoever takes the most pictures wins. Of course in order to get the prize they have to say each word clearly. You can even make a fun book of the pictures that were taken to review later.
4. At the playground. Whatever your target sound is you can usually find a way to target it at the playground. For example on the slide you could practice the /p/ sound by giving a stuffed animal a “push” down the slide. You could practice the /b/ sound by giving a “big” push, or going down the “big” slide. You could practice the /m/ or /w/ sound by saying, “watch me slide,” “watch mom slide,” or “mom’s turn.” /k/ can be used in a game of catch, or by kicking a ball. You can practice the /s/ sound by saying “ssssss” all the way down the slide and then ending the word when you hit the bottom. The point is if you’re creative you can practice almost any sound anywhere, especially on the playground
5. In the sand. Whether you are in your backyard sand box or at the beach, kids of all ages love the sand! Make it a speech activity by burying objects or laminated picture cards for them to find. When they find the objects or speech cards have them say the word as they put them in their sand pail. Of course the goal is to find them all so be sure and bury them within a small area so they can be found easily by little hands (I only recently recovered a small firefighter, that couldn’t be found in the sand box) .
6. Flashlight Hide and Seek. Tape your practice words around the house then turn off the lights. Hand your child a flashlight and then go find the words. Have them say each word as they find them.
7. Snuggle time with books. Choose books that are interesting to your kids and help them find pictures or words that start with the sounds they are working on. You may have them just listen as you say the words clearly for them to hear, or you may have them try saying the words as well.
8. Let’s not forget about BUBBLES! Bubbles can be one of my favorite therapy tools for little kids. So many sounds can be targeted with some set phrases /b/ bubbles, big bubble. /p/ pop /f/ popping finger /g/ go bubbles /m/ more bubbles, my turn /l/ little bubble /t/ my turn, your turn.
With summer off and running I hope that you are able to find practical ways to help your kids practice their speech words at home. The trick is to be creative with your surroundings and play to what will pique your child’s interest.