It’s the summer holidays, we’ve had a bit of sunshine and the kids want to play outside. Sometimes, with speech and language work, it’s easy to give the impression that children need to be indoors, sitting still and doing something paper-based. This is not true! There are so many ways to incorporate speech and language into fun outdoor games that you are playing anyway. Here are 10 ideas.
- Simon Says. For younger children, leave out the actual Simon Says part and just take turns to give instructions for each other to follow. IE Instead of saying “Simon says jump”, just say “can you jump?” or “jump”. This is a great way to develop verb vocabulary (“can you hop? Can you skip?” etc). For older children, you can introduce the Simon Says element, but also make the instructions longer and more complicated (eg “run to the paddling pool and then turn round twice”). Give your child a chance to give the instructions too.
- Skittles. You can get some lovely sets of outdoor skittles. However, if you don’t have any, you can use bottles. I saw this great idea on Pinterest for bowling with big balls of ice if it’s a hot day and you fancy filling up your freezer with water balloons! You can put anything on skittles – attach any pictures your speech therapist has given you and see if your child can name or tell you about whichever ones they knock down. (Make sure you laminate the pictures first, especially if you’re using an ice ball!) Alternative just have a pile of pictures and get your child to name or talk about as many as the number of skittles they knocked down.
- Listening walk. If you are walking somewhere and trying to keep the kids going, try a listening walk. Listen for as many different sounds as you can hear and talk about them. Can your child point to where the sound is coming from? Do they know what it is? What sort of sound is it? (high, low, loud, quiet etc). What else do they think they might hear on this walk?
- Obstacle course. Set up an obstacle course in the garden. Talk about what the children have to do. This is particularly good for prepositions (“go over the chair”, “run between the paddling pool and the washing line” etc). To make it even harder, blindfold one child and get the other to tell them where to go. If like me, you only have one child, you can take turns with your child to take on each role.
- Water guns/ nerf guns. Most kids love these! Try a describing game with these. Describe something in the garden and your child has to shoot it! You can always bring objects out or use some pictures as well to add more variety or make it harder. If your child is practising speech sounds, get them to say a sound, word or sentence (depending what level they are working at) and get them to shoot it.
- Hide and seek. Hide objects or pictures around the garden and get your child to find them and name them/ talk about them. Alternatively, get your child to hide and then, when you’ve found them, tell you where they were hiding.
- Ball games. There are loads of things you can do with a ball. In fact, we have a whole post about these here. Here’s one suggestion though. Play a “hot potato” type game. Choose a category, for example, animals. Throw the ball to the next person, and say an item in that category. See how long you can keep going before someone runs out. You could play a similar game with words starting with a particular sound if your child is working on speech sounds.
- Scavenger hunt. Give your child a list of things to find from around the garden or wherever you are (eg find a leaf, an acorn and a stick). Start with two things and work your way up to find the right level for your child. Another way to do this would be to give them descriptive words instead (“can you find something spiky? something red?” etc) Alternatively you can just collect together interesting objects throughout a walk and talk about them as you go. Then you could play a game at the end – put them all out on the ground and describe one for your child to find.
- Hopscotch. This is another good one for speech sounds. Put a picture on each square (or write the words if your child can read). See if they can say the words as they play hopscotch.
- Make maps. This one is really for older children. See if they can draw a map of your garden (or a local park if your garden is as small as ours!) Then get them to use the map to direct you on a particular route. You could incorporate this into an obstacle course type game. EG they could also tell you to do particular activities in each place (“hop round the tree” etc).
What other outside games do your kids love to play? How can you incorporate speech and language into them?