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Incorporating Speech and Language Into Your Winter Break Activities

As a parent, I have learned that breaks from school can be a great time to reinforce goals and concepts already learned as well as work on some things my child currently struggles with. Of course, if your kids are anything like mine, the second you mention the word “homework” during school breaks, they run the other way...and fast! Below are some fun ideas of ways to incorporate speech and language activities during break without making your child sit at a table for hours on end (but if they want to sit at the table and work, go with it!! :)

Christmas Break Idea#1: Dramatic Play

This is so important for so many reasons! Children (and adults!) can act out an endless amount of scenes, whether it’s pretending to be animals, superheroes, shopping at the grocery store, or dancing as kings and queens. Dramatic play can help with role playing different or new scenarios, working through one’s feelings in a less scary setting, opening the door to new vocabulary, and of course stretching one’s imagination. So, go ahead and put on that cape because you CAN BE Batman

Christmas Break Idea #2: Playdough!!

Playdough - something so simple yet there are so many things to do with it. Younger kids can work on requesting (either asking for “more” or asking for “more + color”), following directions, asking for help (playdough containers are notorious for being difficult to open and actually get the play dough out), taking turns, etc. Older kids can also work on requesting or using a grammatically complete question (“Can I have the blue playdough, please?”), 2-step directions, listening for main concepts in a sentence (e.g., “You are going to make a snowman. You will need 3 balls of playdough, 2 small balls for the eyes, and don’t forget that carrot nose!”), etc. For kids working on speech sounds, you can put pictures or words in a sheet protector and make playdough balls that kids can smash down as they say their word. The ideas really are endless! (PS it can also be a great way to provide sensory input for kids.)

Speech/Language Idea #3: Legos or Blocks

You can do so much with Legos and blocks! Kids use their imagination to create whatever they want! It’s great for make-believe (build a castle and act out a scene, build a city and pretend you have to save it from a scary monster, etc), taking turns, working cooperatively with someone else, fine motor skills, dealing with problems or setbacks (because nobody likes when their building crashes down, but our kids need to learn that it’s okay and what they can do to fix it or move past it), imaginative play, giving directions (have one of you build something and then be on opposite side of a door/couch and have the person who built something give directions to the other person for where to put the blocks/Legos to make the same thing - great for basic concepts) name just a few! The best thing about Legos and blocks is that creations are endless!

Speech/Language Idea #4: Books!

Nothing can replace sitting down with your child and reading to them! No matter what age (yes, we are even talking about babies under 1 years old!), reading to your child and all that goes along with that can be so beneficial to them. Not only are they hearing the story (or sounding out words or learning to read/reading on their own), they are also learning book awareness, word sense, new vocabulary and concepts, how to be quiet when someone else is reading, etc. Expressively, you can ask the “5 WH questions” (who, what, where, when, why) as you read to see how much your child is understanding, ask “what do you think will happen next,” have them tell the story back to you, ask them how they think a character feels, ask them the main idea/reason for the story, etc. If your child is younger, you can ask them to point to different parts of the picture as you read or identify colors/animals/etc on the page. If not most important of all, you are spending quality time with your child!

Speech/Language Idea #5: A Ball!

A ball, really?? YES, really! Here are just some of the things you can do with a ball: requesting when rolling the ball or playing catch (this can be at any level, signing/word/sentences or question level if your child is working on asking “Can I have the ball?”), taking turns (a HUGE concept for kids to learn especially if they have difficulty with social skills - this can be just learning to roll the ball back and forth to take turns OR only getting to talk when you have the ball or remembering to ask and use appropriate eye contact when you want the ball), following directions (hide the ball and give your child directions where to find it - great for spatial concepts “in, under, on, next to, behind” or even concepts like near/far, left/right), practicing speech sounds (every time your child says 1 syllable/word/phrase/sentence you throw the ball back and forth 1 time), rhyming (every time your child catches the ball they have to say a rhyming word for the one you just said), practicing speech sounds (tape 10 different words to the wall, every time your child hits the target word tapes on the wall they say the word), identifying colors (have the child tag something in the room with the color you say), practicing social skills (write different conversation questions/prompts on each section of a ball like a soccer ball and when your child catches the ball they have to start a conversation around that topic), and so much more!!!

Almost anything around your house can be turned into a fun game that can also be a way for kids to learn. Remember: the number one way kids learn new things is through play!

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