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Top free summer speech therapy ideas

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month

The main idea here is that speech and language practice can be incorporated all day during daily activities. There isn’t anything special you have to do but be aware of your child’s needs, abilities, and your language when playing with your child.

It is quite simple and quite easy at the same time.

1. Water

What To Do: This is an easy one – play with water. There are many ideas on what you can do with water and kids just love it. You can: Get out a water table and toys, water flowers, turn on a sprinkler, use the water hose, fill up buckets, cups, and funnels.

Target Goals

Concepts: Wet vs. dry

Vocabulary: Wet, dry, spray, dump, fill, half, full, splash, puddle, jump, push, bath

Following Directions: Give each other directions such as “fill up the small cup” or “water the pink flowers after you water the yellow ones.”

Something To Think About: If you are a parent, tell your child that you are going to play with water. Get out the toys or garden hose. As you play, weave your child’s goals into the play such as modeling articulation sounds or using vocabulary words in a sentence.

2. Bubbles

What To Do: Blow bubbles

Target Goals

Concepts: Up vs. down, bubble vs. pop, open vs. close

Vocabulary: Bubble, blow away, pop, run, chase, wand

Following Directions: Pop the big bubble, chase the bubble, blow bubbles

Social Skills: Practice taking turns

Something To Think About: If you are a parent, get out the bubbles. Blow bubbles to get your child interested. Next, weave in your target goal naturally. For example, if you are practicing articulation, encourage your child to say the target sound before a turn. If you are practicing vocabulary, use the words in a sentence or model what they mean and encourage your child to repeat.

3. Sand

What To Do: Play with sand. If you don’t have a sandbox, you can make one with a bucket and small bag of sand.

Target Goals

Concepts: Dig vs. bury, build vs. knock down, construct vs. destroy

Vocabulary: Dig, sand, soft, pour, build, castle, pack, dump

Following Directions: Find the cup, fill up the green bucket before the yellow one

Social Skills: Practice taking turns, practice asking for items out of reach

Something To Think About: If you are a parent, get out a bucket or table and fill it with sand. Next, weave in your target goal naturally. For example, if you are practicing articulation, encourage your child to say the target sound before a turn. If you are practicing vocabulary, use the words in a sentence or model what they mean and encourage your child to repeat.

4. Hula Hoops

What To Do: Get some hula hoops.You can: Roll them back and forth, put them on the ground for a jumping contest, use them as target practice (throw a ball in the circle)

Target Goals

Vocabulary: Jump, target, roll, spin, catch, hit, win

Following Directions: Roll the pink hoop before the blue. Throw the blue ball through hoop. Jump in the center of the hoop.

Social Skills: Practice taking turns

Motivation: After working for a few minutes, the child can play a game for two minutes

Something To Think About: If you are a parent, get out the hula hoop and find a game your child likes. Start playing and get your child interested. Then, naturally start to target a speech or language skill.

5. Chalk

What To Do: Find some chalk and find a sidewalk or driveway. You can target almost any speech or language goal. For example: Draw words, draw some objects and then make up a story to practice, take turns being the leader and give directions to other players to practice following directions.

Target Goals

Vocabulary: Colors, draw, dust, picture

Following Directions: Take turns giving directions to players for what to draw

Social Skills: Practice taking turns, practice asking for items out of reach

Something To Think About: If you are a parent, get out the chalk. Start drawing and having fun. Start playing and get your child interested. Then, naturally start to target a speech or language skill.

6. Flower Walk

What To Do: Go for a walk and find as many different flowers as you can. Practice, your speech and language skills along the way.

Target Goals

Concepts: Walk vs. run, summer vs. winter

Vocabulary: Bloom, grow, colors, flowers, find, discover, new, matching

Alternative Games: Play “I Spy” to target language skills (vocabulary description, i.e., I spy something small and sharp). To practice colors, find everything that is a certain color. Practice a target verb such as “I see,” “I discovered,” etc.

7. Follow The leader

What To Do: Play follow the leader where one person is the leader and gives directions to the followers.

Target Goals: Following Directions (as the leader, give directions where to go; as the follower, practice following directions)

Ideas To Chew On: Play Follow the Leader with a twist. Take turns being a leader. The leader creates a treasure hunt by hiding something outside. Then the leader gives directions or clues on where to find the object. This is great practice for following directions and forming sentences.

8. Explorers

What To Do: Drive to a park or simply play in the backyard and go on an exploration.

Target Goals: Touch and compare how different plants feel, smell and look. Talk about colors, sizes and heights that different plants may grow. Remind about caring for plants.

Vocabulary: Find, look, discover, explore, play

Ideas To Chew On: This is a great activity to focus on articulation. Pick out the sounds you want to practice and then the words that may naturally arise during play. While playing, make sure to weave your previously picked out words into your conversation.

9. Nature Play

What To Do: Make characters out of rocks, pine cones, sticks, etc. Once your characters are made, have fun telling stories.

Target Goals

Narrative Structure: (Setting - who, what, where, problem, feelings, resolution)

Ideas To Chew On: With the little characters you make out of things found outside, make up stories. Make sure to include the setting such as “who” your story is about and “where and when” your story takes place. Then, create a “problem” and talk about how your characters “feel” about it. Try to solve the problem and discuss the “resolution.” You can use chalk too.

10. I Spy

What To Do: Try to find some of them such as toys, pine cones, grass, sticks, rocks, etc.

Target Goals

Vocabulary: (explore, dig, find, excited, guess), problem solving (look for clues to where a treasure might be)

11. Balls

What To Do: Get some balls (bouncy balls, tennis balls, basketballs) and play. If your child is younger, you might just play catch or throw a ball in the air. If your child is older, you can play more complicated games.

Target Goals

Concepts: Throw vs. catch, roll vs stop

Vocabulary: Throw, catch, bounce, roll, stop

Following Directions: Throw the red ball, roll the blue ball

Social Skills: Practice taking turns, practice asking for balls that are out of reach

Activities

Cooking Language Activities

Vocabulary

Toddler to Early Elementary

Measure: Measure out ingredients. Talk about how measuring tells us how much we need of something.

Scoop: Scoop out the ingredients while using the word in a sentence.

Stir: Children love to stir. Have them use stir in a sentence to request a turn!

Slice: Discuss and show the difference between chopping and slicing.

Timer: Set a timer. Talk about the time, what it means, and what to do when it beeps.

Following Directions

Preschool to Early Elementary

Following directions is a crucial language skill needed for academic and social success. It requires a person to know vocabulary, have working memory skills, and pay attention. Below are some ideas to practice following directions while cooking.

Sequential: This type of direction is multi-step and something has to be done first, second, etc.. “Give me the spoon first and then the bowl.”

Before/After: “Pour in the milk after you pour in the flour”

Spatial: Give a direction with a spatial aspect (under, over, above). “Get the spoon that is under the towel.”

Quantitative: “Give me a few chocolate chips.” “Put in a lot of coconut.”

Basic: “Get the flour.”

Complex Language Tasks

Toddler to Early Elementary Students

Below are some games that target both expressive (speaking) and receptive (listening) skills. Read below for some ideas!

Comparative: Line up the ingredients by size (small, smaller, smallest) before beginning.

Compare/Contrast: Talk about the differences and similarities between baking and cooking while you wait for your food to finish.

Sequencing Narrative: Retell all the steps needed to make the food you just cooked or baked. Make sure to use sequence words such as first, second, third, finally, etc...

Naming: Name all the favorite food you and your child like to make!

Sorting: Sort foods into categories such as vegetables, fruit, cold, meat, etc...

Executive Functioning

Toddler to Early Elementary Students

For a quick review for our new readers, executive functioning is basically our personal CEO. Executive function skills are our abilities to plan, control impulses and emotions, multi-task, pay and shift attention, and organize. Our executive functioning skills will continue to develop as our frontal lobe continues to grow; however, we can start things off on the right foot!

Plan what you need to do first and why (be sure to talk out loud WHY you mix dry ingredients together first or why you measure ingredients before putting them in a bowl.) The thinking “out loud” is a great strategy to teach your child how to organize thoughts and start to understand that we have thoughts, we can control them, and they help us!

Sequence the cooking steps (“First we are going to measure ingredients. Then, we put them in a bowl. Next, we stir. After that, we make balls and place them on a cookie sheet. Last, we put them in the oven.

Talk about safety in the kitchen and how to prevent accidents.

Social Skills

Since there is so much technology and so much academic pressure put on little ones, social skill development is lacking these days. It’s crazy! I see it on the playground every day. Social skills are really one of the most important skills we need to know in order to be a successful human being in the world. We have to function well with others in all aspects of our life from friendships, relationships, working with co-workers, and even ordering food at a restaurant. Social skills develop throughout our life through experiences, observation, and direct teaching. You can demonstrate good social skills from the start through modeling.

Practice asking for a turn stirring – use please and thank you

Practice inviting a family member to come and taste the food

Talk about who you want to invite over for dinner and how to do it

If a child doesn’t like the food, role play how to handle that situation (aka, throwing food on the floor isn’t the best option)

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