Spring Into Speech: Ways to Target Speech and Language Development Outdoors

Group of children playing with soap bubbles outdoors. Friends trying to catch the bubbles.

Chicago spring is on its way, and along with the warmer weather comes a wealth of opportunities to practice speech and language skills outside! No matter what your child is working on in speech therapy, you can find ways to target their goals in the sunny spring weather.

If your child is working on pre-communication skills or early language, try blowing bubbles with them outside.

  • You can encourage them to copy play actions such as poking, clapping, or stomping on bubbles in order to strengthen their early imitation skills.
  • Modeling a variety of environmental sounds (“pop”), syllable shapes (“ma” for more), and words (“bubble”) can help them to imitate these forms.
  • Prompt them to use words to ask for assistance (such as “open” while opening up the bubble container or “help” while waving the wand) to help expand their use of words for requesting.

If your child is working on later developing expressive language, such as prepositions, narrative language, or descriptive language, try playing on a playground.

  • Playing hide and seek and talking about hiding places can help to expand their use of prepositions (“I hid under the ladder,” “behind the swingset,” or “in the slide”).
  • Pretend play strengthens narrative language skills such as sequencing and cause and effect concepts. You can ask your child to explain what’s happening within the story or why their characters are acting the way they are (“Why does the princess want to find the treasure!?”).
  • I Spy on the playground is a great opportunity to practice descriptive language and word-finding. Encourage your child to use lots of different kinds of descriptive words (such as colors, sizes, shapes, textures, functions, or categories).

If your child is working on speech sounds, pull out your sidewalk chalk!

  • Try making a creative game of hopscotch by drawing pictures of words containing target sounds in each square. Prompt your child to say each target word when they land on the corresponding square.
  • Use tic-tac-toe as a reinforcement by asking your child to practice their target sound before placing each X or O.

There’s no better place to expand speech and language skills than the great outdoors, so take advantage of the delightful weather and have a blast outside.


Emma Baime, MS, CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist


Photo credit: iStock