Spring is almost here!

Since spring will officially start in a few weeks and everyone will hopefully be outside more, there are some great language based activities that can be done outside as well as inside on those rainy days. Here are a list of some general ideas that you can adapt depending on weather and materials you have in your home.

  • Start discussing new vocabulary such as flowers, bugs, rain/raindrops, grass, bunnies, birds and concepts such as growing and weather
  • Using eggs for an egg hunt either outside or inside to work on the prepositions on, in, under, behind, etc. receptively (tell them where the eggs are) or expressively (“Where is the egg?”)
  • Talk about planting flowers/plants- different parts of the flowers
    • Sequencing the steps- planting seeds, watering seeds, growing, and full grown plant using first, next, last
  • Read books that talk about spring:
    • Planting a Rainbow- Lois Ehlert
    • The Tiny Seed – Eric Carle
    • And Then it’s Spring – Julie Fogliano
    • The Ugly Vegetables- Grace Lin
    • My Garden- Kevin Henkes
    • My Spring Robin- Anne Rockwell, Harlow Rockwell, and Lizzy Rockwell
    • Spring is Here- Will Hillenbrand

Stuffed Animal Gross Motor Activities

 

Image result for stuffed animal images

As a mother, I know my children many stuffed animals most of which sit on the bottom of the bed never being used.  Well, here are some ways to utilize those furry little animals to get your child moving while having fun!  

 

  • Animal Walking- gather a variety of different animals i.e. frog, bear, bunny, etc. and have your child walk like each one.  As this becomes easy for your child increase the challenge by placing obstacles in their path to move over, under, around, etc.
  • Animal Toss- use stuffed animals of various sizes and shapes to toss into a container such as an empty laundry basket.  Increase the challenge by increasing the distance, having the child balance on a cushion or pillow while tossing, stand on one foot and throw, etc.
  • Animal Musical Chairs- have the children hold stuffed animals while playing musical chairs.  When the music stops instead of having the children sit have them place their animal on the chair.  Vary the movement i.e. running, skipping, jumping, bear walking, etc.
  • Parachute Play- use a bed sheet as a parachute.  Place a stuffed animal(s) in the center of the sheet and lift the sheet up and down, giving the animal(s) a ride.  Also try Ring Around the Rosy.  The children can walk, run, skip, jump, etc.
  • Flying Animals- have your child lay on their back and squeeze a stuffed animal between their ankles.  Have the child lift their legs while keeping the animal between their ankles and make their animal “fly”.  This is a great core strengthening activity.

 

Encourage your child to have fun playing with their stuffed animals while you are sneaking in some physical activity!  

Snow Day Language Activities

Some winters have more snow days than others.  If you’re looking for something to do, here are some language-based ideas to keep your little ones busy and hopefully entertained!

  • Build a snowman: this can incorporate many different language concepts such as body parts, size concepts (i.e. big, medium, small), comparatives (bigger, smaller), location concepts (i.e. top, bottom, middle) as well as clothing vocabulary

 

  • Baking: baking in the kitchen is a great way to work on following directions

 

  • Indoor Scavenger Hunt: create a list of things for your child to find.  This could incorporate size concepts (i.e. find something small), colors, household vocabulary, etc.  Turn out the lights and use a flashlight for even more fun

 

  • Have a playdate- playing with a peer is a great way to foster social skills

 

  • Read books together: take a picture walk and talk about the pictures, ask questions about the story and how the characters might be feeling, make predictions about what might happen next

 

  • Make homemade Play Dough: involves following directions to make it, playing with the play dough can work on language related to sharing materials and commenting (i.e. look, I made a _____)

Homemade Fine Motor Fun

Store bought toys can be lots of fun but don’t underestimate the fun you and your little one can have with items you already have in your home.  Below is a list of household items and easy activities that can be used both for fun & fine motor skill building!

 

Materials

  • Toothpicks

– Build shapes and towers with toothpicks using mini marshmallows

-Turn over a colander and feed the toothpicks into the small holes

 

 

  • Cheerios/fruit loops

 

-Use cereal as your “beads” to practice bead stringing.  Use pipe cleaners, string or coffee stirrers to string the cereal onto

 

 

  • Uncooked pasta

 

-Use ziti or penne as “beads” to practice stringing

-Use smaller pasta such as elbow macaroni  to glue on to pictures or outlines to make a textured mosaic

-Glue macaroni onto large letter or shape outlines to practice letters and shape recognition while developing fine motor skills

 

 

  • Dried beans or rice

 

-Place dried rice or beans on a tray or shallow container.  Hide small toys or buttons and have your child try to find them with their finger tips or use small tongs or strawberry hullers to pull them out

 

 

  • Shaving cream or whipped cream

 

-Enjoy some sensory play time…..place shaving cream or whipped cream on a tray.  Practice “drawing” line strokes, shapes or letters in the cream, with your fingertips.

 

  • Sponges

 

-Cut sponge into small, 1/2” squares.  Use 2 small bowls, one with water and one empty.  Challenge your child to dip the sponge squares into the the water, then squeeze them out (using finger tips) into the empty bowl.  Coloring the water with foodcoloring may make it more fun!

-Use small sponge squares to sponge paint a picture.  

 

 

  • Flour, salt, oil, foodcoloring, cream of tartar

 

-Make playdough!  Follow this link from tinkerlab.com for a great homemade playdough recipe.  

http://tinkerlab.com/rainbow-play-dough/

Both the process of making the playdough and playing with the playdoh will be great for hand strengthening.

Holiday Break Language Activities

Just because there is a break from school doesn’t mean language development can’t happen at home! Here is a list of some language based activities you can do with your child at home while having fun and spending quality time together.

  • Make an ornament – Using paper, crayons, glue, scissors, and any other decor you  want to use
    • You can give your child instructions to work on following directions or   even have your child tell you the directions in order to get you ornament look like theirs
  • Holiday books- Reading stories related to whichever holiday you celebrate
    • You can have your child label vocabulary, identify pictures, and ask questions related to the book
  • Holiday Go Fish- Make pictures of vocabulary related to the holiday you celebrate and make 2 of each to play a fun game of go fish
    • Works on turn taking language such as “your turn”, “my turn”, “Do you have a ….?” as well as vocabulary
  • Baking holiday food and dessert- Baking in the kitchen is a great way to work on following directions using all your favorite recipes
  • Setting the table- Most holidays involve dinner with family so having your child help set the table is a wonderful way to work on follow directions and spatial concepts such as next to, beside, on, etc.

Gross Motor Toys and Games

If you are looking for gift ideas that promote gross motor development below are some ideas to get your little one moving and motor planning!

-Play tunnel
-Cat In The Hat I Can Do That game
-Dr. Seuss Super Stretchy ABCs
-Wiggle Giggle game by John Hansen
-Kidoozie Foam Pogo Jumper
-Diggin Wobble Deck balance board
-Move Your Body Fun Deck Cards-Super Duper Educational Learning Toys
-Toysmith Monster Feet
-Fat Brain Toys Teeter Popper Ride on toy
-Stomp Rockets
-Scooter board with handles
-Crazy Legs game by Endless Games
-Elefun and Friends Chasin’ Cheeky Ring Toss Game
-Roll and Play Board Game by Thinkfun
-Move and Groove game by Thinkfun
-Peaceable Kingdom Feed the Woozle game
-Alex Toys Active Play Monkey Balance Board
-Eric Carle From Head to Toe game
-Velcro catching games
-Parachute
-Ring toss games
-Hoola hoops

And don’t forget some of the best gross motor games are homemade! For example try making an obstacle course out of household items and furniture.

Have fun!

Typical Preschool Dysfluency

For any new parents to this blog, the following is also a previous post regarding typical preschool dysfluency. Hope it is still helpful!

The Park Slope Speech Therapy website describes dysfluency in the following way: “ Disfluency is anything that impedes the forward movement of speech. So, when you stop in mid-sentence and say “Um” or “Er” that is disfluency. Or, if you say, “I want, um, I want that”, that is disfluency. Stuttering differs from disfluency in both quantity and quality.  Research indicates that preschoolers tend to be highly disfluent. They back up, repeat words and restate much of the time. In fact, one study found that in a language sample taken from a group of 3 year olds, every third word was repeated. What underlies this high degree of disfluency is the child’s developing language system.  In other words, the preschool child is developing vocabulary, grammatical structures and the ability to talk about abstract ideas and events. Because these skills are not yet fully developed, there is a lack of automaticity. The child might struggle to find the word he wants to say or the structure needed (as in past tense ‘ed’) to fully express his idea. So, it appears that for most youngsters, disfluency is part of the developmental process.  Now, we call these “normal” disfluencies, not stuttering. So what disfluencies raise a red flag during a speech evaluation? Sound repetitions (b-b-book) or prolongations (sssssoup) are indicative of a possible fluency disorder. Part word repetitions (be-be-because) are also not typical of developmental disfluencies. Remember, we also said quality and quantity. If a child occasionally repeats or prolongs a sound, that should not be a cause for concern.”

In addition the Stuttering Foundation of America describes normal dysfluency in preschool children as occasionally repeating syllables or words once or twice, li-li-like this. Dysfluencies may also include hesitancies and the use of fillers such as “uh”, “er”, “um”.  These dysfluencies occur most often between ages one and one-half and five years, and they tend to come and go. They are usually signs that a child is learning to use language in new ways. If disfluencies disappear for several weeks, then return, the child may just be going through another stage of learning.

So what you can you do if you notice dysfluency with your child?

  • Try not to draw attention. In the same way that you wouldn’t correct your child’s pronunciation, don’t draw attention to these repetitions. Just listen attentively and be affirming. Try not to tell your child to relax or slow down.
  • Be patient. Give your child your full attention with ample time to express him or herself. Your child will get the idea that he/she doesn’t have to hurry and you are interested in what he/she is saying.
  • Slow down yourself. Answer him in a slow, relaxed rate of speech yourself, creating a calm environment in which to share. Use a “Mr. Rogers” voice. By your modeling a slower pace, you can affect his or her rate of speech.
  • Don’t finish up. It’s easy for a parent to want to finish a child’s sentence but it is important to let him or her complete the thought. Interrupting is disruptive and will not promote fluency.
  • Shorten up. Respond to your child with some shorter, less complex sentences, pausing between phrases.