As summer nights grow longer I’m sure some families are looking forward to the start of the school year (or just tired of the same outdoor games). While handing over a tablet is a quick fix, Jessie highlighted research in her latest blog connecting increased screen time with expressive language delays.
Here are some ideas to incorporate Developmental Therapy into your summer games. (hint: you don’t need to buy all brand-new toys, use what you have!)
- Bubbles are great for everyone! Blow bubbles and talk with your child about size concepts (large and small). This is also a great opportunity to engage your child in joint attention and practice turn taking with the bubbles.
- Sights and sounds; take a trip to the zoo and make a family day out of learning. If you’ve already checked the zoo off your summer list, take a walk and discuss what you see and hear (dogs, birds, trucks, cars, and construction equipment).
- Lake Michigan; with our close proximity, this allows countless summer activities to enjoy with your family. Sand sculpting increase creativity, tactile sensory building, and hand-eye coordination. Building with friends and family also supports teamwork and promotes positive social interactions. Include pretend play during sand time, the more enthusiastic you are about playing the more your child will want to play! Have a kiddo who wants to keep their feet on the ground? No problem…. try boat, car, busses, and truck watching. Have discussions with your child about what you see to develop vocabulary and increase word retrieval. Incorporate colors, sounds, sizes, and anything you can think of. Don’t forget the SPF!
- Sprinkler/water table; a kid favorite to keep cool all summer! Grab the sprinkler out and let the kids play for gross motor and body awareness. Water table activities are great to improve fine motor skills, promote cause and effect awareness, and sensory regulation. Incorporate different objects into the table along with different friends to practice social emotional play and turn-taking. If you don’t have a water table…no problem! Use any size plastic storage container, fill it with water, and let the fun begin!
- Pretend play is something that can be utilized anywhere: driving in the car, playing at the playground, and at home. Use themes that your child already enjoys and has an understanding of (pirates, dragons, PowerRangers, princesses, anything!) Be enthusiastic…if you aren’t excited to use a hairbrush as a phone your child won’t be either. Don’t be afraid to talk out loud and explain what you are doing to your child (they won’t know what you are using the props for unless you tell them). Use concepts they know already, have them take their toy car and drive around to pick up grandma to make cookies in the kitchen. Using empty household items makes a child feel accomplished and proud to take part in family routines.
Kelly Scafidi, MSW, LCSW, DT