Speech Therapy
Sand

This summer you can have fun playing outside and work on speech and language skills with our speech therapy sand ideas!

Language Activities

Vocabulary: Toddler to Early Elementary

To work on vocabulary with young children, you don't bring out flashcards. That is not how they learn best. They learn by playing. So, while playing with sand, use the following vocabulary words in sentences. Your child is listening! If they can, have them repeat a few sentences as well. 

  1. Scoop: Grab a shovel or your hands and scoop up sand and dump it out. Say scoop with each turn.
  2. Dig: Bury a "treasure" in the sand and have fun digging while you try to find it. Say "dig" while you play and encourage your child to do the same.
  3. Explore: This vocabulary word is a bit more complex; however, let's introduce it now. While playing in the sand, talk about exploring different objects that can be found in the sand. Go on an adventure!
  4. Pour: Grab some cups and fill them with sand. Pour the sand out and talking about how pouring is "falling down." 
  5. Create: Create is an advanced vocabulary word, but again, use it! Talking about creating fun structures in the sand. 

For more info on vocabulary learning, check out toddler and preschool/elementary vocabulary learning. 

Child not talking yet, we can jump start his/her first words if you have an android device. Don't have Android....check out how to encourage first words with a kindle!

Speech Therapy Using Sand

Following Directions: Preschool to Early Elementary

Following directions is a crucial language skill needed for academic and social success. It requires a person to know vocabulary, have working memory skills, and pay attention. Below are some ideas to practice following directions while cooking.

Sequential: This type of direction is multi-step and something has to be done first, second, etc..

  • Grab the bucket and then the shovel
  • First, make a hole. Second, put a truck in it
  • Push a truck in the sand and then dump out the sand

Before/After:  This is a temporal direction. Your child has to do something before or after they do something else. This is TRICKY!

  • Before you fill your cup with sand, give me the shovel
  • After you dump out the sand, drive your truck through it
  • Scoop out sand before you fill your cup with water

Spatial: Give a direction with a spatial aspect (under, over, above). 

  • Stack the green cup on top of the blue cup
  • Put sand under the bucket
  • Pour sand over the rocks

Quantitative: Quantitative means quantity. Teach your child concepts such as few, one, many, a lot, etc...  

  • Give me a few rocks
  • Put a lot of sand in the bucket
  • Let's find one shell!

Basic: Basic means one step, simple directions. If your child is having trouble. Start here!

  • Find the purple shovel
  • Give me a cup please
  • Dig in the sand
Free Speech Therapy Ideas Using Sand

Complex Language Tasks: Toddler to Early Elementary Students

Below are some games that target both expressive (speaking) and receptive (listening) skills. Read below for some ideas! 

Comparative: You will practice comparing and contrasting language skills. These are important!

  • Verbs: Dig vs Dump - Talk about similarities (things you can do in the sand, it moves sand, you need a shovel) and differences (gathers vs gets rid of it, moves sand up vs down, etc...)
  • Objects: Shovel vs Bucks - Talk about similarities (both can scoop and dump sand, both are found outside) and differences (compare sizes, shapes, colors, and uses)
  • Activities: Sand vs Rocks - Talk about similarities (both found outsides, both are round, both can be played with) and differences (size, texture, location such as gardens vs beaches)

Sequencing Narrative: Retell all the steps needed for different activites in the sand such as:

  • Making a sand castle
  • Creating roads 
  • How find buried treasure

Naming: Name all the different vocabulary words that fit into the following categories:

  • Things found on a beach
  • Uses for a shovel
  • Places you can find and

Sorting: Organize sand toys by attributes. Below are some ideas!

  • Things that are made out of plastic
  • Things that are round
  • Things that are small enough to fit in your hand


A solid foundation in speech and language skills in necessary for success in reading, math, social relationships, and language arts!  For more specific speech therapy activities, read more about our practice ideas based on age and skill level

Executive Functioning: Toddler to Early Elementary Students

For a quick review, executive functioning is basically our personal CEO. Executive function skills are our abilities to plan, control impulses and emotions, multi-task, pay and shift attention, and organize. Our executive functioning skills will continue to develop as our frontal lobe continues to grow; however, we can start things off on the right foot!

  1. Plan what you need to play in the sand. Discuss what makes a good sand toy and why! Be sure to talk out loud through all of your thinking process. The thinking "out loud" is a great strategy to teach your child how to organize thoughts and start to understand that we have thoughts, we can control them, and they help us! 
  2. Sequence steps to make a sand castle. (First, get out the sand toys. Then, scoop sand into a bucket. Next, turn the bucket over. Then, lift up the bucket. Last, start over!)
  3. Talk about safety in the sun. Discuss importance of wearing sunscreen and drinking water when it is hot.

Social Skills

Like I've said before, there is so much technology and SOOO much academic pressure put on little ones, social skill development is lacking these days. It's becoming a soap box for me.

Social skills are really one of the MOST IMPORTANT skills we NEED to know in order to be a successful at school, jobs, and really any aspects of life. Social skills develop throughout our life through experiences, observation, and direct teaching. You can demonstrate good social skills from the start through modeling. 

  1. Practice asking for a turn with a certain toy
  2. Practice inviting a friend or family member to join in the play
  3. Talk about who you want to invite over to play and how to do it. Talk about things you can do to make friends more comfortable (i.e., sharing toys, having a snack, etc...)
  4. If a child doesn't want to share, trade toys, or wait for a turn, talk about why it is so important. This will pay off in the long run!

Speech Activities

Is your child working on saying sounds better or otherwise known as "articulation therapy?"  If so, you can practice articulation skills while you play in the sand.

Below are some words to practice while playing. We created sample target words for all sounds in all word positions (beginning, middle, and end). If your child is working on any of these sounds, pick a word and practice it while you play in the sand. Very functional and easy! 

Some ideas on how to practice include:

  • Say a target word and have your child repeat it before taking a turn (word level)
  • Say a sentence with the target word and encourage your child to do the same before a turn (sentence level)

Read articulation therapy for how to do speech therapy at home and access free word lists!

For more information on specific sounds, read about our apps for speech therapy!

Sounds


Initial


Medial


Final


B

Bucket

Pebbles

Rub

D

Dig

Idea

Sand

F

Fun

Laughing

Stuff

G

Go

Digging

Bag

J

Jar

Object

Huge

K

Cars

Sprinkle

Pick

L

Look

Umbrella

Pail

M

Mix

Empty

Game

N

Need

Funnels

Sunscreen

P

Pour

Happy

Scoop

R

Roads

Park

Four

S

Sand

Castle

Grass

T

Take

Water

Wet

V

Visor

Cover

Above

Z

Zoom

Desert

Fingers

TH

Thank you

Something

Path

CH

Chair

Natural

Bunch

SH

Shovel

Washing

Finish

New! Comments

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Speech Therapy & Educator Resources

For all you speechies and teachers, I created a PDF and Google Doc handout to give to parents for a home activity. Feel free to download and give to parents at the end of session for weekly homework!

Homework Sheet (Blank sheet to fill in goal and activity)

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Bridget is an ASHA certified, practicing speech language pathologist. She is passionate about providing parents with information on child speech and language development as well as provide functional, easy activities to do at home! Parents have the power to make a real difference.

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