School’s out for summer! This sentence can bring parents both relief and a bit of anxiety at the same time. As a parent myself my goal is to not only survive the break, but to enjoy it, and maybe even take it a bit easier then usual while helping my kids do the same. However, like reading, speech and language practice is an ongoing process that shouldn’t get 3 months off if we want to see our little ones continue to make progress.
Speech practice can be done from just about anywhere, and with minimal prep and some creativity it can still be fun and effective. I know at my house multitasking is the only way to survive and with four kids there isn’t time for me to spend the entire morning putting a lesson plan together for each one. It’s a bowl of cereal and off we go. So I wanted to share some fun, quick ideas that I have used with my kids, that you could do to help you keep the practicing up while still enjoying summer fun.
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. I call this “Phono Family Fun.” Okay, I really like alliteration. 😉
2. Sidewalk chalk
Sidewalk chalk is a summer staple at my house. 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 targeted 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. Playdough fun
Draw a word out of a hat (this could come from the worksheets here on Mommy Speech Therapy, the words in Articulation Station, or you could think of your own words), then shape your playdough into that word. Have the other players guess what you have created. For extra points you could have them say the word in a sentence.
5. 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.” You may even try rolling marbles down the slide into a bowl. You could have them ask for “more marbles” to roll down the slide. 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. 🙂
6. 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.
7. Paper ball basketball
Write each practice word on a piece of paper. Write the number of syllables in the word below the word. Then crumple each piece of paper into a ball. Have your son or daughter choose a ball, open it up, say the word and then crumple it back up and toss the paper ball into a trash can. If the word was a three syllable word and they make the basket they get three points. If it was a single syllable word they only get one point. Have fun, and don’t forget to keep score. Little ones can be quite competitive!
8. Flashlight Hide and Seek
My kids LOVE playing hide and seek with flashlights in the house. 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.
9. 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.
10. On the Go
Grab your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch and have fun practicing the words, sentences and stories together in the Articulation Station app anywhere. This is always fun, and just perfect when you are waiting at the doctors office, driving in the car, on a plane, or at home with nowhere to go at all.
Let’s not forget about BUBBLES! Bubbles can be one of my favorite therapy tools for little kids. You can read my post, “Bubbles to Improve Language Development” for more ideas on how to use bubbles at home to encourage our little ones to talk more.
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.
What creative ways are you helping your children keep up with their speech and language practice at home?