Winter is cold, long, and difficult especially when you have little ones. Being trapped inside a house can make anyone go a little crazy!
However, when weather allows (for us Chicago residents that is any temperature above 20 degrees), I suggest going outside and enjoying all the good things winter has to offer with our free speech therapy snow ideas!
The main idea here is that speech and language practice can be incorporated all day during daily activities. There isn't anything super duper special you have to do but be aware of your child's needs, abilities, and YOUR language when playing with your child.
It is quite simple and quite easy at the same time.
What To Do: This is an easy one....have a snowball fight! However, most of the language practice will be during the making of the snowballs. You can even add food coloring for an extra kick.
Target Goals: Concepts(big vs little, cold, round, colors), Articulation (i.e., B in Ball, TH as in Throw Ball, K as in Cold - you get the idea), Vocabulary(Throw, Roll, Scoop, Hide, Pour)
Ideas To Chew On: Ask your child to have a snowball fight. Explain that you are going to make the snowballs first. While you make snowballs, you can target a goal such as big vs little balls. Let's say you make one pile of little balls and one pile of big balls. Or you can use a shovel to SCOOP snow before ROLLING it (vocab practice).
What To Do: Another pretty self-explanatory one...make a snowman!
Target Goals: Concepts (big, bigger, biggest), cold, round), Articulation (i.e., B in Ball, N as in Nose, ST as in sticks - you get the idea), Vocabulary (body parts, stacking, pretend)
Ideas To Chew On: Think about a what your child needs to work on...is it vocabulary, following directions, articulation? Once you have a goal in mind, adapt the snowman making business around it. For example, if your child is working on S-blends, model and practice the sound with "snow," "sticks," "snowman," or "scoop."
What To Do: Lay down in the snow on your back. Move your arms and legs back and forth. When you are done, stand up and admire your snow angel.
Target Goals: Concepts(up VS down, back and forth), Articulation (i.e., L as in angel, M as in move arms), Vocabulary (arms, legs, admire), Sequence/Following Directions (sequence steps needed to make a snow angel. Make sure to use sequence words such as first, second, last)
Ideas To Chew On: If your child is older, you can practice the important skill of sequencing and following directions. Explain that you are going to make snow angels. Verbally sequence the steps needed to make a GREAT snow angel such as first, lay down in the snow. Next, move arms and legs back and forth. Last, jump up carefully and look at the snow angel! Don't forget to use sequencing words!
What To Do: Go sledding!
Target Goals: Concepts(fast VS slow), Articulation (i.e., F as in fast, D as in down or sled), Vocabulary (climbing, steep, incline), Sequence/Following Directions (sequence steps needed to go sledding)
Ideas To Chew On: The best time to work on language or articulation will be when you are climbing up the hill to go sledding down. While climbing, you can discuss vocabulary such as steep or incline. You can give an example by pointing out the steepest part of the hill and what that means.
What To Do: Start packing some snow and make a fort. There are lots of language opportunities available with this one!
Target Goals: Concepts(tall, skinny, wide), Articulation (i.e., F as in fort, W as in walls), Vocabulary (support, walls, stacking, cover, building), Narrative structure (do some pretend play and make up a story of how you and your child are Eskimos and living in an igloo)
Ideas To Chew On: Building a fort requires a lot of communication when you are working together. Think about what you want to work on and then you can target that while playing. For example, if your child is working expressive language/narrative structure. You can make up stories and include the "setting," "problem," "feelings," and resolution. Your child will be motivated to do this one!
What To Do: Watch the snowfall. You can even do this inside if you don't want to brave the cold!
Target Goals: Articulation (i.e., S as in snowflake, F as in falling), Vocabulary (snow, falling, winter, seasons, sticking)
Ideas To Chew On: Watch the snow and work on articulation or vocabulary. Snow is beautiful and most kids will want to look at it for a few minutes. Now, that your child is sitting still you can work on lots of different speech sounds such as /s/, /f/, /l/....really anything if you think about it! For children working on vocabulary, you can talk about LOTS of different winter vocabulary words such as snow, ice, cold, falling, slippery, white, seasons, and winter.
What To Do: Play follow the leader where one person is the leader and gives directions to the followers.
Target Goals: Following Directions (As the leader, give directions where to go,as the follower, practice following directions)
Ideas To Chew On: Play Follow the Leader with a twist. Take turns being a leader. The leader creates a treasure hunt by hiding something in the snow. Then the leader gives directions or clues on where to find the object. This is great practice for following directions and forming sentences.
What To Do: Drive to a park or simply play in the backyard and go on an exploration!
Target Goals: Articulation (i.e., D as in Find, L as in move Look, R as in explore), Vocabulary (Find, Look, explore)
Ideas To Chew On: Simply play in the snow and go on an exploration. The world looks different in the snow and you can go exploring and see what you find. This is a great activity to focus on articulation. Pick out the sounds you want to practice and then the words that may naturally arise during play. While playing, make sure to weave your previously picked out words into your conversation.
What To Do: Make characters out of snow. Once your characters are made, have fun telling stories. Make sure to model all parts of narrative structure.
Target Goals: Narrative Structure (Setting-who, what, where, Problem, Feelings, Resolution)
Ideas To Chew On: With the little characters you make out of snow, make up stories. Make sure to include the setting such as "who" your story is about and "where and when" your story takes place. Then, create a "problem" and talk about how your characters "feel" about it. Try to solve the problem and discuss the "resolution."
What To Do: The snow buries a lot of treasures. Try to find some of them such as toys, pine cones, grass, sticks, rocks....etc!
Target Goals: Articulation (i.e., F as in find, R as in explore), Vocabulary (explore, dig, find, excited, guess), Problem Solving (look for clues to where a treasure might be)
Ideas To Chew On: This one can be a lot of fun and a great way to indirectly teach problem solving skills. The key here is to THINK OUT LOUD. Let's say you and your child want to see if you can find a pine cone but everything is covered in snow. Talk through your thinking of your child on how to accomplish this task. For example, you might say..."pine cones come from pine trees. I think we should start looking by a pine tree. What do you think?" or "Let's see if we can feel a pine cone under our feet. How do pine cones feel? What shape are they?"
What To Do: Line up some objects on a ledge. Then, make some snowballs and try to knock the objects over! Motivating and fun!
Target Goals: Vocabulary (knock down, throw, hit, smash), Following Directions (hit the toy truck and then the cup)
Ideas To Chew On: This is a fun one to do and a great activity to practice temporal directions. For example, you can practice giving directions to each other. Let's say you line up a toy car, bucket, and truck. You might say, try to hit the car before you hit the truck!. Easy and fun!
You can always make snow! There are lots of paid products out there or you can find some free ones on the internet! Click on the image below for example of a paid one. Your child will thank you!
Find some more speech therapy ideas for the home here!