Outdoor Activities To Build Speech & Language {Preschool/Toddler}

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With the warmer weather FINALLY here and summer quickly (well, hopefully QUICKLY!) approaching…it’s time to start thinking about getting outside and having fun!  While enjoying the beautiful weather and being outdoors, why not work on building and improving your little ones speech and language skills as well.  I’ve come up with a few fun (and FUNctional) activities that can help you achieve just that!  Many of the ideas you will read about are not only easy but extremely CHEAP.  Who doesn’t love low cost, fun activities?!  Now let’s get to it….

Scavenger Hunt {Nature Style}
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How many of your little ones love to play hide and seek?! Personally, my 2 1/2 year old Landon is a HUGE fan and so are my preschoolers!  This activity is taking it one step further.  Take your students on a “Nature Walk”!  You may need to be creative depending on where you live and the location of your school but some ideas for your walk include a courtyard, playground, picnic area, field, etc.  See what your students can find (i.e. leaves, rocks, bugs, a feather, etc.) and talk about them!  This is perfect for describing, using senses (touch, smell, sound), following directions, turn taking, and more.  To make your “nature walk” a little easier to target all of these skills, I made a FREEBIE just for you!  Head over to my TpT store and grab these awesome checklists/describing pages by clicking HERE.

Water Table/Water Play
With the warmer weather upon us, why not get outdoors and play with some water!?  One idea I have is to set up a water table!  This time of year you can easily find these at places like Target, Walmart, Amazon, etc.  Another idea is to check out yard sales!  I personally love a good bargain so head out on the weekends and see what goodies you can find.  Another option is to grab yourself a large plastic storage bin easily found at those stores I mentioned before and fill it up with water!  Now, throw in a bunch of random items, seriously anything you can find laying around like bath toys, cups, pencil, rubber band, coin, etc. and let your students start playing and exploring.  Talk about which items float and which ones sink…what does the water feel like….describe what was found…..and ask questions.  Can you see the endless possibilities for language development?!

Sandbox
This is very similar to the water table.  I’m sure many of the places you work at do not have sand boxes, however; that doesn’t mean you can’t easily make one!  Now that you have your plastic storage bin from the water play activity, fill it up with sand!  This is such a great sensory bin idea.  Hide items in the sand and then start talking!  How does the sand feel?  What did you find?  What color is that?  Is it soft or hard?  Are you having fun?

Bubbles
There are so many ideas and ways to use bubbles in therapy (just do a google search!).  I personally have used bubbles with students/children working on /b/ and /p/, lip rounding, and turn taking! Some other ideas for using bubbles are:  Promoting eye contact, requesting, articulation (/p/ for pop, /b/ for bubbles, /m/ for more), vocabulary (more, please, fun, bubbles), turn taking, and HAVING FUN!

Playground Fun  IMG_5117

If you are lucky enough to have a playground at the school or place you work then you must get out there and not only play but work on those speech and language skills!  This would also work perfectly right in your very own backyard with your energetic toddler (my son is obsessed with being outside in our yard!) Trust me, your little ones won’t even realize they are actually “working” when they are going down the slide, swinging on the swings, jumping, running, etc.  Which leads me to….working on action verbs (swinging, sliding, jumping).  Each time your students go down the slide why not say…”WOW, what did you just do?!  “I was sliding”.  Maybe some of your students are non-verbal, no problem!  My caseload is made up of plenty of non-verbal students which is why I carry PECS on a key ring with me at all times.  Try making some pictures of the activities you will be doing on the playground.  Have your students point/touch to which activity they just did or choose what they want to play on next!  In addition to “actions” try working on prepositions as well!  “Did you go up or down the slide?”  “Show me the top of the slide”.

Going on a Picnic
This might seem a little far-fetched especially if you work in a school but trust me, it’s super easy!  First of all, who wouldn’t love to go outside to eat snack or lunch?  You can easily turn both of these into a “picnic”. First, grab a small basket (dollar tree people!).  Next, get packing!  This is the perfect opportunity to work on sequencing and following directions…for example….  “First, put your sandwich in the basket”  “Then put your chips and drink in the basket”.  “Now, close the basket and say I’m ready for a picnic!”  Once you have gone through the steps of packing up, head outside!  Lay out a blanket or sit at a picnic bench and chow down!  Don’t forget to continue targeting those language skills!  “How do your chips taste?”  “Is your juice hot or cold?”

Planting/Gardening
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You may be thinking…”I can’t just go outside and dig up school property to plant some seeds!”  Well…don’t you worry….I have you covered.  I planted seeds last school year with my preschoolers and plan on doing it again very soon.  If you are lucky enough to have an AWESOME Dollar Tree near by, then you need to head there soon!  I was able to buy mini pots, seed packets (4 for a dollar!), mini shovel, and even DIRT at my local Dollar Tree.  I love that this activity can carry on across multiple speech/language sessions.  First comes planting the seeds all while working on sequencing and following directions.  Watch and see how excited your students are each time they come to speech and are able to water and check on their plants (especially when they start to sprout!)  Have them start a chart and keep track of measurements and describe the changes they see.

I hope you can use some or ALL of these outdoor activities/ideas with your students or little ones!!  I can’t wait to hear what you come up with!

 

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