Here are what I’m calling my quarantine-4: my top speechy activities for passing the days with your little friend in tow at home!
Introducing stations is a great way to get your little one organized during play. Your living room, bedroom, or backyard magically becomes the perfect environment for play-based learning! Simply set up your stations with all of the necessary materials before you engage your child. You know your tiny friend best in terms of picking the right activities but a good way to get started is to pick 1 super structured task, 1 messy task, and 1 active task (at the very least). I like to have 3 stations, but your child may want up to 5 or only 2. Some fun examples are: a washing station with buckets, soap, brushes, cars or toy animals; a bead threading station; a rice sensory bin with hidden treasures to find with tongs/spoons/fingers; a coloring page with crayons; an obstacle course; a puzzle table; a LEGO station with specific directions; or a parent designed scavenger hunt in the garden (find 3 green leaves, put 4 rocks in the bucket, etc.)
2) Word chunk
Word chunking is an awesome way to set and practice speechy goals with your child. You are basically picking specific words that you want your little one to use and that are matched with the activity. So, for example, when you play with cars, you can practice ready, set, go, fast, slow, beep-beep, and stop. You simply reiterate these words often during your play in hopes that your child not only builds an understanding of those words but also starts to imitate you! Kids learn in context, so word-chunking is a great way to help them learn within specific play-based contexts.
3) Chores that don’t bore!
Most of us at home with little ones know how hard it is to get household chores done! A great win-win solution is to have your kids help by giving them specific tasks. That way, you are practicing following directions and getting things done while having fun! Here are some easy examples. Laundry: have them sort the clothes by color, tell them which item to hand you by describing it in different ways, practice ‘put in’, ‘turn knob’, ‘press start’, ‘open’, ‘close’, and so on. Cooking: have them pour, mix, stir, taste, shake, find, or sort ingredients. Kids also love vacuuming, helping with dishes, cleaning with fun brushes and bubbles, sorting any and everything, and feeling strong & helpful!
4) I spy anywhere & everywhere
I Spy is one of my favorite games. I talk about it a lot and always suggest it to parents. There are 0 supplies needed, you can play anywhere, you can start once your child learns how to point or reach for specific items (usually by one year of age) and it is still fun when your kid is in the double digits! You start easy –-“I spy a ball” when the ball is right in front of your child–, once they look at it, point at it, or reach for it then they win, and you make a big celebration! For older kids you can make it really hard –“I spy something that helps you dry off”, “I spy something that fits in my hand and has stripes”, etc.
Molly Dresner is a Speech Language Pathologist based in New York City.
She recently authored The Speech Teacher’s Handbook, an engaging parent guide that includes practical and easy-to-follow tips and activities to help you help your little one!