Fun ideas to work on your SLT targets over the summer
We made it!! Finally, the summer holidays have arrived. The kids (and parents) have worked very hard all term and it’s only natural to feel the want for a break’. However, as important as down time and relaxation is for children, so is consolidating skills they have learned over the term either in school or in speech and language therapy.
Summer holidays is a great time to practice generalizing the speech and language skills they learned in clinic into their everyday lives. I hear you gasp……… but fear not. This can be done through everyday routines and simple cost friendly activities at home or in the community. It does not have to include completing worksheets at the kitchen table.
Below are a few ideas in which parents, child minders, July provision tutors may be interested in. and even better they can involve the whole family. Most activities can be simplified or made more complex on the level your child is at. The important thing is everyone is having fun and your children don’t even realise they’re doing therapy.
Imitation – a great way to practice motor imitation. Motor imitation skills are important in order to progress to verbal imitation skills. This can involve simple face to face activities – touch your nose, ear etc. it is important to ensure you have your child attention so using a motivator/reinforcer such as playdough may help. You can imitate your as child rolls the playdough, cuts the playdough etc.
Following Directions – get playdough for everyone involved. Practice giving and following directions. Start by giving the child directions E.g. roll the playdough, cut the playdough, make funny faces, long and short snakes etc. Then encourage you child to be the person to give the directions and everyone else must follow. This also involves listening and turn taking skills.
Concepts - Ask your child to make different shapes/items where you can target sizes big/small or small/medium/large; numbers “show me 6 pieces”; colours; locative concepts such as in front, behind; same V’s different; long/short etc.
Speech - Go through the house or garden and take pictures of as many things as you can that start with your targeted sound. For younger children you might need to help them to identify the item without saying it. Whoever takes the most pictures and says the word correctly wins. Why not keep these photographs and make them into a book using a hole puncher and some twine or string. Remember as all ways with speech, model the correct pronunciation of the word for your child, you can cue them with the first sound if require.
Vocabulary - Learn new vocabulary by category – things you find in the bedroom, in the kitchen, in the garden. Using the same pictures as above practice sorting them by where they belong. E.g. “Where would I find a kettle? In the bedroom? No, In the bathroom? No” Match the picture to the real item when you find it.
Following directions – Hide things around the house or garden. Write out a list of directions for your child to follow in order to find the hidden items. Depending on the level your child is act you can include 1, 2, 3 step instructions. Start small and build up E.g. “Stand facing the back door”, “turn around”, “take 3 large steps and stop”, “turn to the right and open the door” etc.
Word Associations – Again hide things around the house or garden. This time instead of directions give your child clues which they need to solve in order to find the next clue. E.g. “I’m pink and I smell nice”, “go to the place where you wash your hands”, “find something you eat with” etc.
In the car
Creating Opportunities – Play some music in the care whilst you drive to your destination. This could be any music your child likes, or nursery rhymes etc. Pause the music before just before the high point in the song. Wait for your child to indicate that the want more music or let them fill in the blank if they know the words. Continue playing the music again.
Building Phrases/Sentence – play a game of bingo as you are driving in the car. The first person starts off “I see
Listening/memory - This is great for little children – who can be first to see a tree? For older children you could make it harder by asking for more difficult things to spot or by giving a list of things. Eg “who can be first to spot a green lorry, a wooden fence and a shop”.
Speech – practice your jolly phonics sounds with a CD. You’ll find yourself singing or humming the tune long after the car journey.
Eye Contact – Eye contact is an important social skill and pre-requites to language. Without it, it can cause communication to breakdown. Because bubbles are fun to make and interesting to watch they are a great way of encouraging eye contact. Your child may watch your face while you’re blowing bubbles. Blow the bubbles slowly. Wait for eye contact before you blow the next blow. Catch a bubble on the wand and bring it close to your face at eye level. Let your child track and follow the bubbles movements until they pop also.
Creating Opportunities – Because bubbles are fun and enticing, they are a good reinforcer for most children. Start by blowing a bubbles and closing the bottle again. Wait for the child to indicate that they want more bubbles or that they want a turn. They may indicate this by using eye contact, reaching for the bottle, making a sound, clapping their hands. Interpret this non-verbal communication and say what you think the child meant. If you have to wait a long time for the child to initiate, try to entice them again by shaking the bottle or blowing more bubbles and increase the animation in your voice. Also a great activity for cause and effect and turn taking.
Concept – practice blowing lots of bubbles. Ask your child to identify whether the bubbles they have blown are large, medium or small in size. You can also introduce the concept of numbers by asking them to count how many bubbles there are, and introduce locative concepts by asking the child to identify the direction the bubbles are going in.
Packing a suitcase
Word Finding - Whether you’re travelling abroad for a well-deserved holiday, or taking a local trip to a sea-side town, you can incorporate some language goals whilst preparing for the trip. Ask your children to identify items for their day out/night away. E.g. “what will we need to protect our skin?”, “What will we need for our feet?”
Phonological awareness – After you’ve identified the thing you need you could then lay some of the items out on the bed and give your child phonological cues to locate the items and then put them into the suitcase. You could ask your child to find the items using a series of clues or word that rhymes. E.g. “We need to find an item that starts with starts with B, can you find it?” or “can you find something that rhymes with ‘tock’… Yes.. it is ‘sock’”. Let the child put the items into the suitcase which ever way they. You can always re-arrange them later.
Memory – Play a game of ‘I’m going on my holidays’. This game requires each person to remember the things that were said before them and then add their own item. E.g. Adult: “I’m going on my holidays and I’m going to bring my swimming togs”. Child “I’m going on my holidays and I’m going to bring my swimming togs and a hat” and so on. You can cue your child by giving them the first sound of the word or a word it rhymes with or a description of the thing.
At the playground
Speech - whatever your target sound is you can usually find a way to target it at the playground. E.g. when on the slide you could practice the /p/ sound by giving teddy a “push” down the slide. Or, you could practice the /b/ sound by giving a “big” push, or going down the “big” slide. You could practice the /m/ or /w/ sound by saying, “watch me slide,” “watch mom slide,” or “mom’s turn.” You may even try rolling marbles down the slide into a bowl. You could have them ask for “more marbles” to roll down the slide. You can practice the /s/ sound by saying “ssssss” all the way down the slide and then ending the word when you hit the bottom.
Following directions – bring your child’s teddy or favourite toy and hid it around the playground and give them directions to find it. E.g “teddy is under the swing”. You could also give your child directions to follow E.g. “put teddy under the swing”. Again, you could expand this depend on the level your child is at by making the directions longer and more complex. E.g. “put teddy on the swing and push dolly down the slide”.
At the beach
Speech - Burying small objects or laminated picture for your child to find. When they find the objects or speech cards have must say the word as they put them in their bucket. The goal is to find and say them all so be sure and bury them within a small area so they can be found easily by little hands. This could also be done in the sand box at home.
Listening – During down time or relaxing time at the beach it can be a nice idea to practice being present in the moment and listening to the world around you. Ask your child to listen carefully and tell you all the sounds they hear around them. E.g. “I hear the water”, “I hear children shouting” etc.
Combining words – you could play I spy with the sounds you hear and the things you see. Take turns to identify these things using short sentence. Model and emphasis sentence starters such as “I see” and “I hear”. If you child just says one word, model the sentence form him and ask him to repeat it after you. This is a nice turn taking activity also.
What ever you choose to do this summer we hope you have fun continuing to work on your speech and language goals.
Claire & Suzanne