There’s nothing like warmer spring weather to welcome opportunities of growth and learning for your speech students! It’s always a good idea to spend more time outside, but especially when there are so many different sights, sounds, and smells around you. It creates it the perfect opportunity for students to verbalize their experiences and learn new words. Here are some SLP-approved outdoor activities to engage your students and push them towards speech and language success this season.
From a local park to the playground, your nature walk is guaranteed to have different things your students will be excited about. One way to engage them is to ask them to describe what they see. This targets descriptive vocabulary and sentence structure. You can also ask them to describe where something is, focusing on prepositions and locational words. You can pick up rocks or moss and ask them to describe how it feels, or follow a sound (i.e., a bird, river, etc) and try to guess what it is.
A childhood classic! This game can be played with any number of students and targets receptive and expressive language, particularly the understanding and use of instructional verbs (i.e., jump, hop, stand, clap, etc.), as well as nouns and prepositions (i.e., Simon says hop around the tree). Students get very excited taking turns playing Simon, which encourages their formulation of sentences that include instructional verbs, nouns, and more.
Who doesn’t love bubble time?! You can comment and label throughout the activity (i.e., saying “open” or “blow” to describe your actions). You can also model adjectives and various vocabulary words throughout the activity (i.e., “sticky”, “wet”, “soaked”, etc.). If your student is a bit older, you can turn it into a game where if they answer a question correctly (i.e., “why do we use vacuums?”) they get to pop bubbles or blow bubbles themselves. Bubble time also promotes eye contact, articulation (p for pop, b for bubbles, m for more), vocabulary, turn-taking, and requesting.
This is a great activity for all ages, as you can change the level of difficulty depending on the student’s ability. Using nearly any object for this hunt, you can give clues in a variety of ways. For younger students, you could use words to describe where the object is (i.e., “The first object is behind the tree under a rock”). For older students, you could write a longer description of the object or give clues in the form of riddles.
This is another great activity that can range in difficulty depending on the student’s ability. By using random objects like boxes, chairs, or simply what is already outside, you can create many different obstacle courses. This activity requires a blend of different nouns, verbs, and prepositions, giving your students the opportunity to both carry out the actions and give instructions themselves.
For an easy activity, hide toys in the sandbox and have your student elicit language when they discover the different items by labeling them (i.e., if they pull up a red truck, have them say “red truck”). You can also use it as a sensory bin and ask your student “how does the sand feel?” “What did you find?” “What color is that?”
Personally, nothing screams spring more than gardening. Most Dollar Tree stores should have the following supplies needed: mini pot, seed packets, mini shovel, dirt. This is a great activity that can carry across multiple sessions. Planting seeds with your student requires a great deal of listening, following directions, and sequencing. Each following session the student can describe what they see, water the plant, and predict what will happen by the next session.
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy your spring weather and these fun outdoor activities with your students!
Author: Caroline Langdon, MS, CF-SLP