MARC Speech-Language Pathologists Present
Our May Topic:
Nature and Gardening Activities for Language Stimulation
Go on a nature walk and talk about all the things you see outside. Make a list of things to find on walk and help child find them. Grab a bucket and collect things on your list (acorns, leaves, flowers, rocks, sticks, etc)… talk about the colors, shapes, size, and number and so on. Bring a camera, and take pictures of things that are familiar to your child or that your child can name. Consider trees, ponds, flowers, even houses of friends or pets in the neighborhood. Later, you can flip though the pictures on your computer and talk about your walk, mention some of the things you got to see.
Look for some good books about gardens and growing, e.g. “The Carrot Seed”, “Planting a Rainbow”, “Sunflower House” and one called “Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots” written for families with ideas for gardening with kids.
Tie the stems of clover blossoms together – wrap and tie stem around flower of next one to make a chain into a circle to make necklaces, hats, etc. – they can find more, tell you longer or done, decide what it will be, who gets it, etc.
Play hide and find with small dolls or animals – under, over, behind trees, rocks, bushes, swing-sets, and so on. Then let the dolls live or go camping somewhere outside to get some pretend play.
While outside playing with your children, listen to all the sounds outside (birds, animals, airplane, etc…)
Increase understanding of “Where” questions by asking “Where is the (tree, etc…)?” and having them point to the things named. Maybe they could have a picture of the object, like a flower, and then hunt for the object in their yard.
Have child point to different color flowers to help learn colors.
Have child help with gardening by letting him/her have own tools/materials for gardening and help plant a garden (1. Dig a hole, 2. Next plant seeds, 3. Cover seeds with soil, 4. Water). Name all gardening tools, label actions as you and narrate what you are doing. Give 2-step directions such as: put the seed in and cover it with the dirt. If you don’t want to do a whole garden then plant a seed or two in a paper cup (zinnias, sunflower, pumpkin, watermelon are good) then water, put it in a sunny window and watch it grow – a good way to talk about how things change, “sequencing” language (first/ then).If you have the space, a vegetable garden can be a good way to get kids interested in home grown foods, and getting them involved in the simple parts of garden care may inspire them to taste a few veggies. Your child can grow his/her own salad to serve to the family.
Parents could provide choices as well during gardening activities. Have a water bucket and a shovel and practice function by saying, “Which one gives the plant water?”
Nature magazines can be full or kid friendly pictures. Consider flipping through and cutting out pictures of animals or plants that your child might recognize. Use them to create collages, and use your imagination! Maybe a tiger needs your help drawing a jungle around it, and maybe the monkeys and the frogs are best friends and are going to have a picnic together, and you need to choose what foods to draw on the picnic table. And don’t forget all the fun animal sounds you can practice while you cut and your child glues.
For a fun Springtime activity, take a Styrofoam cup, glue eyes, nose, mouth, bunny ears and whiskers on the cup. Help your child fill the cup with potting soil and a handful of fast-growing grass seed. Add water daily and watch the bunny grow “grass hair” in about a week.