Ah, the month of March has finally arrived; which means, spring begins this month! The weather starts to get warmer, spring cleaning begins, and more outdoor activities are happening. I thought I would share with you some fun ideas to work on teaching language to your kiddies while exploring and enjoying nature and the beautiful weather outdoors!
Get your kiddos moving! Try some of these fast-paced, fun movement games to get your kiddos moving while learning:
– LITERACY/ARTICULATION: Try using hopscotch; use chalk to draw your traditional hopscotch board, but then add in some of your child’s target sight words or target articulation sounds in the squares to have your child practice their words and/or sounds while hopping around.
– DESCRIPTIVE LANGUAGE: At the park, try racing to different nouns (objects) that you see at the park, using some descriptive language (little, big, blue, red, round, square, bumpy, etc). Fun for the little ones who could run all day. Try something like, “let’s race to touch something blue!”, or “race to the little swing”, “race to the big tree”, “race to the bumpy slide”, etc. See if your child can listen for those descriptive words and differentiate among them!
– GET CRAFTY: I promise; anyone can do this. You don’t need to be a fantastic arties. Use old toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls, decorate them with paint, crayons, stickers, or as is, and then use them as telescopes to explore and search for things outside. Use them for descriptive language practice or articulation practice mentioned above. You could even be like pirates looking for special treasures! The more creative, the better.
– VERBS: Play some outdoor charades. Work on teaching your child new verbs such as “digging” for bugs, “leaping” across the yard, or “climbing” a tree or the stairs. You could also work on teaching animal verbs such as “howling” like a wolf, “chirping” like a bird, and “roaring” like a bobcat. Act them out together and make sure you do it too; your kids will think it’s hilarious when you are howling and roaring along with them!
Research much??? Check it out; Many children and adults benefit from pairing movement (kinesthetics) with learning. That’s due to our cerebellum and its many connections to other parts of the brain. See a great article exerpt and book here from Human Kinetics: http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/learn-how-exercise-benefits-the-brain and here from the ASCD: http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/104013/chapters/Movement-and-Learning.aspx
Try getting hands-on with nature. Exploring new textures, smells, sights, and other senses outside will not only allow your child to build their vocabulary, it also allows for new and exciting experiences that activate many senses in the body, activating many neurons in the brain in return. Multi-sensory learning is a great way for toddlers to experience and enjoy the world around you. Get ready to get messy!
– LITERACY/ARTICULATION/LANGUAGE: Use rocks and stones to make shapes, letters, or sequencing activities. For very young children, use something like chalk to have your child place the rocks on; sort of like tracing so that your child has a guide. You can also work on categorization of rocks, leaves, or other nature items and sort by color, size, shape, and talk about big/small, bumpy/smooth, pretty/ugly, shiny/dull, flat/round, soft/hard, etc.
– LANGUAGE/FOLLOW DIRECTIONS: Try some listening tasks like, ‘first find a rock, then find two sticks”, or “first run and touch the mailbox, then jump back to me!”. See if your child can work on 1-step and 2-step verbal directions while playing around outside. You could do this while drawing with chalk, too (first draw a circle, then draw a puppy).
– ARTICULATION: While on a nature walk or scavenger hunt, walk around your neighborhood or nearby park and see how many things you can find that start with the same letter. If your child is working on “s” for example, you could find things like “street”, “sky”, “sun”, “sand”, and “swing”.
I hope you will be able to enjoy some of these fun, outdoor activities with your kiddos. Please feel free to share any other ideas you might have tried with your own kids, or ideas you have used in therapy sessions!