With summer quickly approaching, it is time to start discussing vacations! Whether you are a teacher taking students on a field trip, or a parent organizing a family getaway, there’s a good possibility you’ll find yourself at a theme park this summer. If you have visited one recently, you may have noticed several kiddos of all ages passing the time between attractions with a smart phone or tablet of some sort. While electronics often keep kiddos occupied, we want you to reconsider using them at your next theme park visit. These parks are FILLED with communication opportunities and excessive use of technology can limit social interaction in any setting. Let’s review some language lessons that can be squeezed into your next trip!
There’s so much to see in a theme park! Simply labeling the the things you see can help children learn many new words. Model short utterances to teach new vocabulary. Use phrases such as:
There’s a __________.
Look! A _________.
I see _________.
That’s a __________.
If your kiddos are pulling you in different directions or pointing to desired items or snacks, model some useful phrases for them to imitate to aid requesting. Give positive feedback for appropriately “using words” to ask for things.
I want to eat!
I want a snack.
More ice cream!
Let’s go again!
I need a rest.
Kiddos sometimes have difficulty labeling their own emotions. It can be helpful to identify the feelings of others to provide practice with this skill. Luckily, any theme park is filled with children experiencing a range of emotions. As you pass kiddos, describe how they are feeling and the identifying factors that led to the decision. You can also label your child’s emotions for them to help them identify feelings later.
“I can see that boy is sad because he is crying.”
“Did you hear the girl yelling? She must be angry!”
“You aren’t smiling and your eyes look a bit teary. You seem sad. What can I do?”
In between attractions, start a dialogue about the activities your group has completed thus far. Model the language you want your child to use. Talk about things you liked and disliked and ask your kiddo their opinion. You may have to provide several models to elicit the language necessary for a discussion like this. Here are some examples of utterances to model:
I really liked that rollercoaster, but the fast part was scary! What did you think?
I love the pretty unicorns on the carousel!
The ice cream was delicious! I loved it.
I did not like the loud sounds in that movie. I don’t like wearing the 3-D glasses because seeing things come close to my face is weird!
Coping with Frustration
Even though there are several opportunities for enjoyment, theme parks can be stressful scenarios! Long lines, inclement weather, loud sounds, and unpredictable events can make children upset or uneasy. When these frustrating moments come, use it as a time to teach coping skills. Here are some examples:
Long lines: Teach counting to ten when frustrated, playing a game like “I Spy” or talking to friends and family members to pass the time.
Overheated or tired: Teach requesting a break or snack
Attraction closed: Help your child label frustrated or angry feelings. Then have them identify another preferred activity to find.
What theme parks are you visiting this summer? Need specific language suggestions? Comment below!
With summer quickly approaching, we planned to discuss some fun outdoor activities to promote speech and language development. Unfortunately, the rainy South Florida weather ruined our plans for blog photos! So we are switching it up to discuss some indoor activities to help your kiddos communicate. While rainy days are great for movies, it isn’t a viable option for the entire day. Have no fear, we've rounded up some of our previous posts about indoor tasks that are fun for the whole family! With all these great ideas, you won’t be saying “Rain, rain, go away!” In fact, you won’t mind at all if the soggy weather is here to stay!
It looks like it will be another rainy week for us here! Which indoor activity is your favorite? Is there one you want us to talk about from an SLP perspective? If so, tell us in the comments.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the great moms out there! In the spirit of a common gift given on this holiday, we are chatting about ... Flower Candies!! They are also the perfect spring treat! This is a cooking task children can do with less supervision and support than many other kitchen activities. They can also practice following directions and fine motor skills while creating these candies.
As we have done in the past, we are going to list the directions to complete the task first. Then we’ll break the post into two sections, based on target language skills. Read the portion that best applies to your child’s communication goals.
Materials: snap pretzels, white chocolate chips, M&Ms candy
Emerging Language Skills
This refers to kiddos not consistently communicating, or doing so with 1-2 word utterances.
Core Words: I, you, it, want, more, done, help, like, put, on, in, eat, yellow, pink (or any colors used)
Nouns: M&M, candy, pretzel, plate, microwave
Combine the target words in a variety of ways to describe the events taking place during the activity. The idea is to model 1-3 word utterances, so that they are simple enough for your child to imitate. Provide lots of positive praise for any independent utterances. Here are some sample phrases to model:
I want pretzel
I want plate
Put on chocolate
Put in microwave
Put on pretzel
Put on candy
Put on red
I want eat
No more pretzels
I want help
I like yellow
I like pretzels
Expanding Language Skills
This refers to kiddos communicating with complete sentences, who need to increase their vocabulary, or combine sentences to produce narratives.
To help your child use higher level vocabulary, you must model the use of these words so they can learn the proper context for them. Here are five suggested words to infuse into the directions for the activity:
Distribute the chocolate chips evenly. Each pretzel should have three.
Press the yellow M&M into the center of the softened chocolate.
Arrange six candies around the center for the petals.
In a few minutes, the chocolate will become firmer and the candies will be ready for serving!
As you are giving the directions, emphasize use of sequencing words (I.e. first, then, next, last) to model narrative skills. After completing the activity, ask your child to describe the process, or to practice telling someone else how to make flower candies. Provide cues to help them retell if necessary!
Love cooking with kiddos? Checkout s'more of our fun food posts! What other treats do your kiddos enjoy creating? Tell us in the comments!
Like the rest of the world, we are obsessed with the new Avengers movie, Infinity War. The plot revolves around possession of extremely powerful gems called the infinity stones. For the folks reading who aren’t Marvel fans, (Why aren’t you?) we will list the stones. They actually relate to some very important rules for promoting reading with your child.
There are six stones and each one correlates to a different rule. Like the gems, these rules are extremely powerful. The stones are: the time stone, the power stone, the reality stone, the space stone, the soul stone, and the mind stone. Later this week, we will be releasing a freebie related to this topic. We want you to take these rules into consideration when reading with your kiddo. But also, discuss the stones together to get their perspective on each area. Everyone likes control and we should respect children’s perspectives about how they learn best whenever possible! The Avengers know they are stronger when they work together. Your child will feel better knowing you are on their side, helping them improve their reading skills! Our freebie will have cards for each stone and discussion points to help you guide the conversation with your child. Now on to our gauntlet guidelines!
The Time Stone
When we mention the time stone, we are referring to time spent reading. The gold standard is thirty minutes a day, but many families have difficulty meeting this goal and give up completely. Some time spent reading is better than none! The idea is to spend as much time as possible because more literacy time, means more exposure to new words, which builds both decoding and language skills. To help your child improve, make sure you spend SOME time each day reading together. If this isn’t currently in your routine, start with ten minutes a day. If reading is not a preferred activity for your kiddo, then work on extending the time subtly, by adding just a minute or two to each session. You can also try asking your child how much time they would like to spend reading so they know their input matters. Keep in mind that they may be more okay with extending the time once their reading skills start to improve. Letting them pick the time slot when they would prefer to read is also another option.
The Space Stone
This is especially important for kiddos who do not enjoy reading time. Set the stage for success! Find a space that will make your child as comfortable as possible. It might be as simple as getting cozy in a favorite chair. Or maybe you can create a reading space with pillows and sheets, like a fort. Or perhaps you bring a special snack to your reading space to make the setting extra welcoming. Again, take your child’s input here because the more comfortable they are, the less resistance you’ll experience!
The Reality Stone
Books aren’t the only way to expose children to text. Don’t forget to provide functional opportunities for reading! Some ideas for practice include working with grocery lists, holiday shopping lists, menus, and cooking directions. Your kiddo could help you compose lists and/or check items off them as you shop. When the activity is done, provide praise for doing a great job reading. This will continue to help them build positive experiences with literacy!
The Mind Stone
It is important to stimulate your child’s mind with discussion about the texts you read. Pose comprehension questions before, during, and after reading. There are two reasons for doing this. The first is that questions allow you to assess comprehension of the story. The second is that you are teaching an important skill. You are modeling how to read a text, pose questions, and delve deeper into the content. As adult readers we know that the best books make us question everything. They are the ones that keep us thinking and guessing. To help our kids connect with texts and think “out of the box,” we most model our own questioning and thought processes aloud for them! (Make sure you check our freebie for suggestions if presenting this stone to your kiddo challenges you.)
The Soul Stone
This rule really requires you to focus in on the individual needs of your child here. It’s imperative to find what speaks to their little soul and use it to motivate them. If they love animals, read some books about animals. Sometimes that might mean sacrificing high quality literature for some commercialized texts featuring a favorite character. It is okay to make these sacrifices because we have to look at the bigger picture: Your kiddo is having a positive experience with reading! And it isn’t the only text they are exposed to because you’re using the entire gauntlet to build their skills!
The Power Stone
Remember to empower your kiddo to love reading! How do we do that? We provide frequent access to multiple kinds of text. Expose your child to information at or a little above reading level to help them constantly progress. (Only provide slightly above level text sometimes, because if it’s always too hard, they’ll be frustrated.) It is a slippery slope because if the text is too easy, they will be bored. Most importantly, empower your kiddo by giving them positive praise about their specific improvements. Some areas to consider complimenting are: decoding a challenging word, having a positive attitude, asking a great question, making an insightful inference, not giving up, reading a little longer. (We provide more on our freebie!)
These gauntlet guidelines will help you and your child to take over the universe! Which stone do you think is most important for your child’s success? Share in the comments below.