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One of my biggest challenges during quarantine is being stuck inside with a toddler who has TONS of energy. Well good news…spring is here and it’s finally getting (and staying) warmer! I wanted to share a few of our favorite outdoor activities that are sure to boost language development. 

  1. Scavenger hunts: While there are so many free scavenger hunt worksheets online, it’s way more fun to make your own! If you need inspiration or ideas, by all means do a quick search online. While creating a list (or drawing pictures) you can work on vocabulary development by introducing new words. For example, “bark” and “soil” were unfamiliar words to my 3-year-old until we went on our nature walk for school. 

 

If your child is working on (or needs to improve) specific speech sounds, try to think of items that have that particular sound. For example, if your child is having trouble with the S sound, try looking for: soil, sun, cracks, nest, swing, sticks, grass, etc. 

 

2. Sidewalk chalk: We have been working on reading readiness skills and following directions in our house, but we really needed to change it up. I went ahead and drew 10 letters on our driveway and had our daughter run, skip, hop, jump, etc. to the letter that made the corresponding sound. For example, “Jump to the letter that says ‘sssss’.” If you want to focus on following directions and understanding concepts, you can stick with drawing pictures! For example: 

A. Draw a square next to the circle (one step, spatial concepts)

B. Draw a square next to the circle and underline the letter A (two steps, spatial concepts)

C. Draw a square BEFORE you draw a circle (temporal concepts)  

 

3. Have a picnic! There are so many ways to work on language development before, during, and after a picnic. Before you go for your picnic, work on categories. See if your child can find one fruit, one vegetable, and one dessert. Other categories may include: meat, dairy, grains, drink). During your picnic, you can work on asking and answering wh- questions. After your picnic, you can work on sequencing (e.g. What did we do first? What did we do last?) 

4. Gardening: Nurseries re-open on May 1st! Think of all of the gardening vocabulary you can introduce! Here are a few words to get your started…watering can, sprout, soil, roots, fertilizer, gardening fork and even pruning shears. Sequencing is another great activity to work on before or after you get to work. If your child benefits from visual support, take pictures while you dig, plant, water, etc. You can then use these pictures when working on re-telling the steps. 

5. Nature Art: Use leaves, petals, sticks, pinecones and rocks for your next art project! You can paint rocks or pinecones or make a collage. You can also do flower or leaf printing. If you aren’t sure what to do, see what your child comes up with. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “Why didn’t I think of that?!” 

 

What are some of your favorite outdoor activities to do with your child?