Outdoor Language Activities
Ahhhhhhhhh, spring! After a getting close to 80 inches of snow this winter I am really excited to hear birds chirping and bumblebees buzzing!! At school, we are also utilizing the gorgeous sunny days by taking the children outside for sensory play, academic lessons and their therapies. It has been so much fun AND my colleagues and I can really see a positive change in many of the children. They seem calmer and more focused, not to mention more talkative during and after these outdoor activities.
Below are some experiences we have incorporated into our school day:
- GET WALKING! As part of our daily routine, we have started going for a walk with a classroom in which every child is on my caseload. Many of the children require some sort of sensory intervention to help them concentrate and focus. The teachers and I agree that the walk seems to be very calming both mentally and physically for these children.
When we walk, every teacher/therapist is responsible for 1-2 children and we walk as a group over the beautiful campus where I am now working. I always walk with a child who has "individual therapy" time on his/her IEP and use the time to informally assess the child's speech and language skills. In addition, I use it as an opportunity to evoke conversation about the world around them...What do you see and hear outside? What color is that flower? The sky? The leaves? How does that smell? It is a really nice way to see how a children truly communicates outside a structured classroom setting.
- DIG IT! Kids love dirt, right? So, why not pick a spot outside to plant something? Where I work they recently created a grassy circle for the parent pick-up line to drive around. Now, the classrooms I work with are responsible for adorning the spot with flowers and greens. What a great way to utilize the outdoors, build language skills and teach cause and effect!
No room outside for a garden? Pick up some simple plastic pots and create an indoor greenhouse right in your home or classroom!
A Special Note: If you are working in homecare, please check out my post from April 2009 Warm Weather Therapy Tips. One of the activities that I highlighted then is playground activities—swinging is a wonderful way to get sensory needs met and build functional communication. What a great way to have fun with the children you work with and build speech and language into their day!