Toddler swimming in poolAs speech pathologists, we are always looking for new activities to keep our students engaged and improve their speech and language skills. Sometimes we just need a change of scenery ourselves!

I was reminded of this when we had an uncanny week of summer weather 2 weeks ago. I arrived at a child’s house and he was outside sending matchbox cars down the slide into his plastic pool. Instead of doing our usual routine we just stayed outside and played with the cars, using them as a reinforcement for articulation productions. As the cars got ready to race down the slide, we used it as an opportunity for a language activity as well–predicting who would win, and then naming the first, middle and last cars as they crashed into the water. Somehow I got an entire hour of “work” done on his sounds that usually interest him for a short time.

Preschoolers love the out-of-doors as a backdrop for therapy. I have taken walks and gotten a first word out of a child–“rock” as we pass the same stream and throw rocks in the water. I have used a bale of hay in the backyard (Dad was seeding the lawn) as a home for dinosaurs to talk and move, a slide to send blades of grass and sticks down, a bucket to collect rocks, ants and sticks, all as the child is naming or attempting to name his surroundings. 

Parents, keep in mind that the outdoors is a whole new backdrop for vocabulary and interesting things to explore and name.