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Early Intervention Speech Therapy

"Outdoor" Curriculum

Published May 17, 2010 12:29 PM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Last week I mentioned that at the preschool where I work, I began implementing a new curriculum. As discussed in the last post, the lessons created focus on our daily walk around the school campus, which serves many purposes:
  • calming sensory-enriched experience for the children, such as smelling the flowers, listening for birds and airplanes, etc.
  • reinforces basic safety rules, such as looking before crossing the street and minding stop signs
  • brings to life basic vocabulary words and concepts that surround the children everyday (i.e. trees, birds, flowers, sky, clouds, etc.)

Below is a list of the various skills and lessons that I have been able to introduce and reinforce with the students using the "outdoor" vocabulary that I've created:

  • Naming and Identifying the Vocabulary—Simple and straightforward and always using a combination of words, pictures and signs—"Point to/Circle the ____", "What is this?" etc.
  • Sentence Development—Using the core vocabulary to make simple sentences (i.e. "I picked the/a ______", "I see a ______.").
  • Yes/no Questions—("Yes, we saw ______ on the walk. No, we did not see _________ on the walk"). For this skill, I try to once again keep everything very visual and we categorize the vocabulary into things we saw and things we did NOT see. For this I added silly items, such as a monkey and a Christmas tree as the things we did NOT see on our walk. Also reinforces the concept of "not".
  • BINGO Game with the Vocabulary—I created simple BINGO boards for the class to use during our speech time. Fun way to reinforce the vocabulary and practice following simple 1-2 step directions.
  • Describing and Categorizing—This allows the children to use some of the vocabulary that they have learned and apply a new way of looking at it.  "Put all the things that fly here, all the things that you can ride on here", etc. We also have talked about color as a way to describe our world—"Trees and grass are green", "The sky is blue", etc.

As you can see, just by using some core vocabulary, I have been able to create numerous activities with information that is pertinent to the children's IEP goals as well as their daily environment. The possibilities for the skills and lessons are truly vast and I plan on revisiting it throughout our summer school session.

Through these lessons, the children are making attempts to talk and sign the words. In addition, it has brought the walks to life and the experience has truly become meaningful for the students. Overall, it was been a very successful adventure for all of us!


Good ideas - it's important for generalization that children see and hear things in a natural environment they may encounter when not  at school.

When working with autism spectrum students, I worked on primary colors by using toy cars.  Then at a good time for the student to have a classroom "break", I would take them out, walk them around the building with my toy cars in hand, and gently point to and/or touch the colors of the actual cars.  

I assumed that the student would also see cars along the road on their trips to and from school.  

Susan, , Speech-Language Pathologist Self-Employed May 28, 2010 5:52 PM

Kathi, these are some really great suggestions! I love the idea of collecting items!! This week I am planning to do a scavenger hunt with them, so collecting items is a great follow-up....thanks!

stephanie bruno dowling, blog author May 22, 2010 3:23 PM

Loved the the same with my kids and their parents! Some expanding suggestions include: take a small zip lock sandwich bag with you and let each of the kids collect items that they find (remember your hand sanitizer, too)  then they can discuss what they found with their families as 'homework'...AKA carryover. As a group you can make a collage of the items...this could involve team teaching with the OT. Or with board maker make a simple list of things that could be seen on the suggestion is a max of 12 items. Then help the kids circle what they saw on the walk, when you get back...OT collaboration again?!  or use a light colored bingo dauber instead.  That is a great conversation starter for home, too.  At the top is the starter phrase "I went on a walk today and i saw..." At the bottom I add three feeling pictures such as It was fun. I had a hard time. or I got tired....etc. I have always felt that the pictures helped when communication and encouraged conversational turn taking with family members.

Kathi, , Early Intervention SLP Berrien RESA May 18, 2010 7:49 PM
Berrien County MI

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About this Blog

    Stephanie Bruno Dowling, M.S. CCC-SLP
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Early Intervention in Delaware County, PA
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