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.
Winter can be cold and snowy, but it’s always a wonderful time to engage in different sensory activities! Use the snow, cold weather, and holiday season to expose your child to countless sensory-based play activities, both indoors and outdoors. Playing with objects of various scents, textures, colors, and sounds, or engaging in activities that require your child to move their body in different directions and transition between various positions are great for providing sensory input. This will help them learn more about the world and how to process the sensory information they are constantly receiving.
Build a Snowman
Do you want to build a snowman? Yes! Getting outside to roll snowballs and build a large snowman provides great proprioceptive input. Proprioception is also known as the “joint sense” and lets us know where different body parts are in space, how they move, and how much pressure our body wants or needs to stay regulated. Encourage your child to pack the snow in their hands, roll it on the ground to gather more, and build massive snow balls to stack on top of each other!
Watch those Snowflakes
While you’re still outside, why not lie in the snow, make some snow angels, and stare at the snowflakes falling down? This provides great visual input! You and your child can pretend you’re inside a snow globe, looking at all of the snowflakes falling around you. You can also gather snow in your hands and encourage your child to blow it into the air! This provides great oral and visual input, all while your child is simply enjoying the snow day.
Sip Something Tasty
Go on inside and warm up with some hot chocolate! Sipping and sniffing a warm cup of hot-cocoa will give your child some great tastes and smells for their sensory system to process. Put a spin on the classic hot chocolate by stirring it with a candy cane or adding whipped cream or marshmallows. The added flavors and textures will provide increased oral input for your child.
Create a Snow Sensory Bin
Sensory bins are a great way to explore different textures, colors, and smells in one place! Help your child create a snow sensory bin by gathering some snow and adding other items. Feel free to include items from outside, such as rocks, leaves, or sticks. Add some from inside the home too, such as spoons and cups to scoop and pack the snow. Hide waterproof toys inside the bin and encourage your child to search for them. Sprinkle some glitter, paint, or food coloring into the bin for a visually-exciting spin on the usual white snow. The options are endless!
Questions or concerns?
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s responses to different kinds of sensory input, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773-332-9439.
Occupational Therapy Student Intern
Proske, U., & Gandevia, S. C. (2012). The proprioceptive senses: their roles in signaling body shape, body position and movement, and muscle force. Physiological reviews, 92(4), 1651-1697.
Photo Credits: Nelly Aran via Pexels; Victoria Borodinova via Pexels; Nelly Aran via Pexels; Jill Wellington via Pexels; Matej via Pexels
We at PlayWorks Therapy Inc. are so excited that the weather seems to finally be turning spring-like! Spring and summer bring the opportunity for vacations, long days of playing outside, exploring new places, drawing with chalk, barbeques and other fun outdoor activities! Here are six sensational spring/summer activities that are great for speech and language practice – how about that for alliteration?
So, grab your kids, toys and sunblock, it’s time to start playing!
1.) Sunscreen Body Parts
Speaking of sunblock, applying sunblock provides a great opportunity to practice naming and identifying body parts! You can target receptive language (language comprehension) by having your child point to or lather up a named body part (i.e. “Put this on your nose!” or “Show me your ears!”) and expressive language (language output via speech, signs, etc.) by encouraging your child to name or imitate the name of various body parts. You could also have your child continue this practice as they help you put on your sunblock.
One of my favorite memories from childhood summers includes decorating my long driveway with hopscotch, family portraits, shapes and other chalk drawings with my neighbors and brother. A few ideas include drawing and labeling shapes, naming colors, singing a song related a picture (i.e. Wheels on the Bus, Hopscotch song, etc.) You could also draw animals and name them and their respective noises. For older kiddos, see if you can categorize farm animals vs. jungle animals, etc.
3.) Hide and Seek
Hide and seek is my favorite way to practice spatial concepts including on top, under, behind, next to, etc. You can hide in a yard, home or hide a toy and look for it together. Be sure to identify where the toy or person was hidden. This is also a great way to continue adding new phrases to your child’s vocabulary (i.e. ball under tree). For younger kids, you can practice naming the hidden object (i.e. ball, banana, etc.)
4.) Explore (zoo, aquarium, vacation)
Summer brings many opportunities to explore new places including a new vacation locale, the zoo, the beach, the library, a local playground or park, and these places provide tons of new vocabulary words! Be sure to talk about what you are doing and seeing (i.e. animal names/noises, digging, playing, swimming, books, build, hike, etc.) You can also target receptive language by having your child follow one-step or multi-step directions (i.e. “Go get the ball and bring it to me!” or “Give me the bucket, then the shovel.”) or by practicing pointing to new words (i.e. “Point to the giraffes”).
5.) Water/Sand Play
Summer provides endless opportunities for sensory-based play including, but not limited to, sand, water, Play-Doh, playing with shaving cream, finger painting, etc.! You can build castles in the sand, make water balloons, play in an outdoor baby pool, pretend car wash toy cars (or real ones), draw shapes in the sand or shaving cream, make shapes or animals in Play-Doh. Sensory play provides opportunities to talk about what you’re making (i.e. shapes, animals, etc.), as well as opportunities to talk about how things look and feel (wet, cold, color, etc.) You could also incorporate body parts, action words.
Quick tip: I always find it helpful to keep a wet cloth nearby in the event that your child is uncomfortable and would like to wipe his or her hands or face.
6.) “Cook” together
This last one is my favorite, as I’m a serious foodie. I love to cook (and eat) and grew my love of food by cooking with or watching my mom cook. However, this is an activity that you can do with children of all ages as you could have them help with something simple like mixing pudding and milk. Cooking provides great opportunities to teach sequencing (first, then, last, etc.), taste words (sweet, sour, salty, crunchy, smooth) and try new foods together! Another fun idea is to make homemade Play-Doh or peanut butter Play-Doh together. There are various recipes available online.
Enjoy these activities, the warm weather and contact me at Caitlin@playworkschicago.com with any questions!