Warmer temps, brighter sun, no school... summertime is here!
Many families enjoy a more relaxed pace of life during the summer after a long year of hard work. But just because day-to-day life slows down doesn’t mean that your child’s learning should as well. There are plenty of awesome summertime activities you can start implementing right now to help your child increase their speech and language skills over the coming months. Not only will this promote communication development, but it will also help ensure that the valuable skills they've learned throughout the year don't regress.
Read on for a handful of fun, easy activities you can try with your child throughout summer, as well as specific speech goals to practice at the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.
Practice speech with: Outside water activities
When the temperature is warm enough, most kids love to get outside and get wet! Running through the sprinklers, making your own slip ‘n’ slide, or even filling water balloons for an epic water balloon fight are just some ideas you could try at home. As you and your child participate in these activities, use the examples below to help increase your kiddo's speech skills. Be sure to look at which difficulty level is best for them: beginner, intermediate, or advanced.
Beginner speech level: For early talkers, work on increasing your child's ability to name and use verbs. While playing a fun water activities, model verbs such as: go, jump, run, slide, throw, catch, etc. Prompt your child to imitate and use these verbs during the activity, as well!
Intermediate speech level: For children who are talking but could use a good boost to their language skills, work on concepts such as wet/dry, go/stop, big/small,or in/out. Take some time to teach what each of these concepts mean. For example, family members can yell, “In!” before running into the sprinklers. Then yell, “Out!” once everyone runs away. This is a fun activity that gets the whole family involved!
Advanced speech level: For older kiddos that just need to grow or perfect their speech skills, have your child retell a short narrative about what happened during the water activity later that day. You could ask your child to retell their experience playing on the slip ‘n’ slide, or how their water balloon fight went. Make sure your child provides enough detail in the narrative, uses appropriate sentence structure, and that all the events in their story are told in sequential order.
Practice speech during: A family campout
What child doesn't love exploring nature and sleeping under the stars? You might take a camping trip, or simply set up a tent in your own backyard (or even indoors) for a fun night. Get creative! Make s'mores together, get out the sleeping bags, and don’t forget to grab some flashlights. Here are some speech goals you can practice during your nighttime adventure:
Beginner speech level: For new talkers, as well as children practicing increasing their utterances to longer 2-3 word phrases, find some engaging campout activities to talk about. If you are having s'mores together, you can model a phrase like, “I want more!” or “More please!” Have your child imitate the phrase and, as a reward, have them take another bite of their tasty treat. You can practice any type of phrases based on the activity you're doing, like singing a song, cooking food, or exploring nature.
Intermediate speech level: For children at an intermediate level of speech development, grab some flashlights and go on a nighttime scavenger hunt together. As you and your child take turns shining your flashlights on items, have your child describe each one to you. This activity will help your child increase expressive vocabulary and adjective usage.
Advanced speech level: For a higher level speech activity, have your child work on their categorizing skills. Give your child categories related to camping, such as “Gear needed for camping,” “Animals that come out at night,” “Types of insects,” “ or “Activities that can be done while camping.” Have your child try to name at least eight items that fit in each category. Check out more information about categorization here.
Practice speech while: Making popsicles
A tasty treat is always a welcome idea, especially if it’s a cold treat on those hot summer days! Take a simple activity like making popsicles and try some of the speech tasks below.
Beginner speech level: For younger kiddos, making popsicles is a fun way to target color concepts. Find various fruits and fruit juices of different colors, and fill up the popsicle molds. Have your child identify and name all of the colors used in the popsicles.
Intermediate speech level: For children who may need a little help following directions, a structured task like making popsicles is the perfect activity to work on following 2-3 step directions. Give your child directions to follow in 2-3 steps related to the task. For example, you could say, "First choose your flavor, then open the lid, then pour the juice into the mold!" You may need to repeat your directions a couple of times, or provide visual cues like modeling to help them better understand and follow the instructions.
Advanced speech level: For children working on higher level skills, ask your child a variety of more complex “WH” questions (Who, What, Where, When, Why). These can be questions like “Why can we not leave popsicles outside of the freezer for long?” “When is a good time of year to make popsicles?” or “What flavor popsicles would you like to create?” The ability to comprehend and answer questions is a huge area of language development, as well as an important functional skill!
Practice speech while: Going on a trip
Summer is a popular time of year for travel. If you plan on taking a vacation with your child, whether it's a short road trip or a long plane ride away, don’t miss these language-building ideas!
Beginner speech level: As you're packing for the trip, help your early communicator name items as you place them in the bag. These can include clothes, toothbrush, shampoo, etc. This is a simple but effective way to help your child build expressive vocabulary!
Intermediate speech level: One essential speech skill is the ability to use correct verb tenses. As you and your child talk about the trip, ask different questions that would elicit regular past tense verbs (those that end in “-ed”) or present progressive verbs (those with an “ing” ending). Make sure that as your child answers questions about the upcoming trip, or even past trips, they're using the correct verb tense in their sentences.
Advanced speech level: For older kiddos, help them increase their inferencing skills as you pack, or while on your trip. Make statements such as, “We are packing our sunscreen, swimsuits, and beach towels. Where do you think we are going?” Find different things you can have your child make inferences about in relation to your destination. Your child won’t even know they’re practicing speech tasks!