Written by: Jennifer Fantich, M.A., CCC-SLP
This summer has been different than any other summer. With the COVID-19 still present in our communities, we understand the challenges of navigating ‘summer fun’ with your kids. We wanted to offer some suggestions for language stimulation activities that are fun and inclusive for everyone, using materials that are easily accessible to us all, or that you already have (somewhere) in your home.
Each week we will be highlighting different activities that can be carried out using a single material. This week it’s sidewalk chalk. There is a different activity suggested for each day of the week to help make planning your week with your children a little easier. Within each description, there are different ways and ideas made to target and stimulate language in your child(ren).
Sidewalk chalk color sort
Using your sidewalk chalk, make several large circles in designated colors on your driveway or the sidewalk. Depending on the number of participants and skill level, we suggest starting with 2-3, but you can use as many as you would like. Have your kids find toys, household items or items in nature that would/can fit in each circle. You can set a timer and have them find as many things as they can (like a scavenger hunt) or you can collect the items before hand and have them choose from your selection.
So, to illustrate: Draw a red circle, an orange circle and a green circle outside. Kids can find grass or leaves to put in the green circle; maybe a flower or red shovel to put in the red circle; and a carrot or ball to put in the orange circle. Once items are sorted correctly, you can discuss attributes of each item for more language stimulation. Ask kids questions like: where would you find this, how do you use it, is it something that is found inside or outside, what shape is it, why would you need it?
Dots and lines
This game is a fun one. Select a few colors of sidewalk chalk based on kids’ preference. You’re going to create a grid of dots that are spaced equally apart. The grid can be as big as you desire but dots should be the same size (maybe 6X6, 8X8 or 9X9). The object is to complete the board and fill it with as many boxes in your color as possible.
To play, each player chooses a color (we suggest having them choose a color that is different than the color of the dots). The first player will draw a line to connect 2 dots, either horizontally or vertically. Then each player will take turns connecting 2 dots either horizontally or vertically. This will go on until players complete a box (with four sides). The boxes/connections are made by everyone, so each box may be made up of several different colors depending on the number of players. When a player closes/completes a box on his/her turn, they can color the box in with their color, initial it, or draw a shape/picture. Once the board is complete, the player with the most number of boxes will win the game.
This is a great game for all kids, but especially ones that are little bit older. It promotes turn taking, team building and listening/following direction skills.
Drawing a self portrait is not only fun but super creative. With this activity you can prompt kids by choosing how they want to draw themselves; do they want to be serious or silly? Do they want to use regular colors or those that are unconventional? As children are drawing you can have them tell you how many body parts (eyes, ears, mouths, teeth, etc) they’re drawing. You can also ask them why you need each body part and to locate it on themselves. If they choose to add details (hats, glasses, clothing) continue to ask them questions about where they should put those details (e.g. where do you put your glasses? Hat? Bubble gum?) along with why they may need those items (why would someone need shoes? A jacket? A belt? A watch). This portrait activity can be as real or as silly as kids’ desire. They may even benefit from bringing a mirror outside to capture ‘realistic’ details as their drawing.
An extension activity that is a fun one, along the same lines, is the manicure/pedicure activity. Have kids trace their hands and/feet. You can help them with language to make sure they can follow directions and then use quantitative language to check that they have the right number of fingers and toes on each hand and foot. Kids can then decorate the nails on each creation which can lead to a lot of creative outcomes.
This game is played best in teams. Put the sidewalk chalk in the middle of the teams and make sure each team has enough drawing space. You can create cards before hand, or just verbally determine a category (things you eat, things at school, things outside, things that fly, things that float, things that are round…) Make sure to highlight some examples (especially for your younger players) before beginning to make sure everyone is aware of the items allowed for the category. Once the team has decided on the object, give them a, ready…set…draw! Then, set a timer (we suggest 1 minute) and have kids draw their ‘unknown’ image that belongs to the selected category.
If the other team guesses the picture within the amount of time given, they get the point, if not, the other team can tell them what they were drawing and describe how their picture matched the image they were creating.
Sight word hopscotch:
Draw a hopscotch board on the driveway or sidewalk. You can make up to 10 squares, or as many as you feel necessary given the level of your kid(s). Instead of numbers, use sight words in each square. As kids jump onto each square, they must read the word they hop on. Keep track of the ones they miss or need help with. Use this as a way to know which words your child still needs to practice.
As an extension, you can have your child be a word detective, later on, and have them find their sight words in their favorite books when they’re reading.