Friday, May 30, 2014

Early Childhood: Building Language Skills Throughout Summer Months!

Continuing to build your child's understanding and expression of language throughout the summer months is an important aspect of helping them learn to be the best communicator they can be. Summer is a great time to get outside and experience a lot of those language filled activities! {And they don't have to be expensive!} There are endless fun activities that can be done to increase language.  I really do mean ENDLESS!  You can pretty much take any activity and turn it into a language learning experience for your child. Here are some ideas...

1.  Bubbles
Who doesn't like bubbles?! They are fun, make people smile and are pretty to look at when they glisten in the sun! When playing with bubbles you can work on helping your child follow simple one and two step directions involving concept words (examples: high, low, before, after, closer, further, in, out, on, off,etc.)  Show the child how to dip the bubble wand, pull it out of the bucket, and then softly blow air through the wand to make bubbles!  Remember to repeat the directions and speak using short and simple language.

2.  Concepts at the Park
Find a park close to your home and take a walk there.  Once you get there you can play on the swings and practice higher, lower, slower, faster. While climbing on the the playground equipment, you can practice up, down, on, off, in, out, before, after, first, last, next to, and between. Even putting your child in the stroller can be a great opportunity to work on some language! You can work on the concepts; together, in, on, off, first, then, etc.

3.  Picnic Outside
After the park, you can have a picnic outside!  Have the students help you make the lunches.  You can make sandwiches (think of all the language you will be teaching your child while you are making and packing lunch!) and make sure to be verbally talking to your children the whole time (tell them all the ingredients for the lunches, what you are doing, in order, and how you are doing it).  Set the table outside, and you can begin teaching them all that vocabulary like, set the table, silverware, place mat, picnic table, basket, water bottle, more, etc. Don't forget the sunscreen!

4.  Backyard Water Fun!
Plan a water day! Include anything involving water; sprinklers, water table, water slides, hose, kiddie pool, etc. The kids will have a great day and be worn out and ready for a nap in no time! Remember to talk to your kids and tell them what you are doing ("I am filling up the kiddie pool with water!") and why you are doing it ("I am filling the pool full of water so we can swim in it!).  You can also work on the beginning stages of problem solving during this activity.  ("If you get water in your eyes, then come wipe your eyes on the towel.) 

5.  Nature Walk
Gather the kids and head out for a walk in the woods!  There are so many wonderful things you can teach the kids about while going for a walk {and it's good for you!}.  Talk with your kids while you walk. Talk about all of the trees and flowers, how they grow, life cycles of caterpillars {you can always follow it up with some educational books from the local library}, and seasons: summer to be specific. To assess if the kids are understanding what you are saying, ask them comprehension questions about the nature walk. ("What did you see in the pond?  Where was the duck? etc.)

Fun Activities to Complete After Walk:
~Plant a seed and watch it grow.
~Read a book about a caterpillar or frog's life cycle.
~Talk about the 5 senses {see, touch (feel), taste, hear, smell} and what your senses noticed on the nature walk.

6.  Bake 
Baking muffins, cupcakes or cookies is a fun and delicious way to incorporate following directions, sequencing, understanding of concepts words, and you get a tasty treat in the end!  Make sure you are saying the transition words when you are sequencing the steps of the recipe {first, second, third, fourth, next, then, last, finally, etc.} While you are baking, remember to continue repeating vocabulary {bowl, spoon, mixer, eggs, dough, etc.}

7.  Summer Read-A-Thon

Having a Read-A-Thon is a great way to raise money for a charity and to get the kids in your neighborhood or family involved in summer reading!  First, choose a charity, foundation, cause or school you would like to raise money and donate.  Next, make up a short flyer about the cause and make sure you include that the kids will be reading for a specific amount of time if you donate money (e.g. on July 1st, we will be reading for 3 hours and donating the money raised to a good cause.) Share that flyer with family, neighbors and friends. Then, hold the Read-A-Thon for the specified amount of time and have treats and different themed book stations so the children (adults should be getting involved and reading too!) can have some movement breaks from reading! Donate the money to your chosen cause. 

This is a great way to give back to your community and keep your children interested in reading throughout the summer months! 

15 Tips on Encouraging Language:
1. Always respond to your child's babbling or form of communication.
2. Talk to your child as you are with them throughout the day.  Talk about what you are doing, how you are doing it and why.
3. Take your children with you and have new experiences together.
4. Teach your child the names of everyday items (e.g. brush, bathroom, kitchen, car, etc.)
6. Play simple games such as "peek-a-boo"
7. Read books
8. Sing songs
9. Reward your child when new words are attempted.
10. Talk slow, use clear speech and use simple language.
11. Look at your child when they are talking to you.
12. Describe what your child is doing, hearing and feeling.
13. Let your child listen to music for children.
14. Always praise your child's efforts to communicate.
*15. As a parent, put your phone down and communicate with your child.
(Some information paraphrased from ProEd Inc. 1999.)

Disclaimer:  You can obviously change or modify any of these activities!  They are just ideas I wanted to share to increase your child's language and keep their brain learning throughout those long summer days!

Do you love taking long walks to the park? Do you talk about what you see along the way? how about splashing in the water? My little girl loves playing in the water so I see many days in our backyard getting soaked!

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