How To Do Speech Therapy at Home: Play Activities - Achieve Beyond

How To Do Speech Therapy at Home: Play Activities

Written By: Michelle E. Sisto, MS CCC-SLP TSSLD CAS

The best forms of therapy happen all around us. Children learn best when they are engaged and enjoying the activity.  Communication is at the heart of every activity and interaction that involves your child.  By using the world around them, to engage them and teach them these skills, they can then learn to use those skills independently, within their natural environment.

Speech Therapy Activites at Home

Play teaches children to learn how to react to different variables within their environment.  Play also fosters creativity, imagination, and fun, which all lends themselves to the promotion of these early developing skills. Play also allows for children to learn important life skills, such as turn taking and problem solving. The beauty of play is that it is easy, fun, and can work toward doing speech therapy within the home environment. 

Below are some of my favorite play based activities that can be easily transferred from the speech and language session into the natural home environment:

  1. Balls

    I love incorporating balls into my therapy sessions because they are an open ended activity that provides a plethora of opportunities! When rolling a ball back and forth with your child, you are working on action imitation, joint attention, reciprocal play, and turn taking.  All of these skills are the fundamental building blocks for expressive communication.  Additionally, balls can be used to work on requesting, using repetition and modeling, such as “ball, ball, ball, roll the ball”, while pausing after the phrase to give processing and imitation time.
  2. Vehicles

    Similar to balls, cars, trucks, and trains allow for open ended play that is versatile and never ending. By using verbal routines, such as “ready, set, go”, repeatedly, the child starts to anticipate what to expect and can begin to imitate this familiar phrase during play.  Also, modeling transportation sounds, such as vroom vroom, beep beep, and choo choo, while encouraging imitation, allows for practice using these sounds to support these early developing skills. Like balls, vehicular play can support imitating actions, such as go, stop, fast, and slow. 
  3. Bubbles

    No child can turn down bubbles!  They provide a fun and whimsical activity that all children look forward to.  With bubbles, model words to facilitate requests and comments, such as “pop!” and “bubbles!”  Bubbles can also be used for early verb acquisition, such as directing children to complete actions on the bubbles (i.e. open bubbles, blow bubbles). 
  4. Farm/Animal Figurines

    With farm and animal figurine play, adults model animal sounds for children to imitate.  This play can also be used to work on following directions, such as pick up the cow and put the sheep on the farm.  Adults should narrate what they and the child are doing to expose the child to concepts and related language.  These narrations take the pressure off of the children and there are no expectations.  The child is not peppered with questions or demands, but they can be exposed to language in a pressure free environment.
  5. Play Doh

    Who doesn’t love play doh?! Play doh is an activity with endless possibilities! Adults can work to facilitate the completion of directions and requests.  Children can request different colored play doh and different cookie cutters/accessories to use.  They can work on following action based directions, such as pull, squish, open, give, and push.  Additionally, play doh also facilitates pretend play that increases imagination through pretending to bake with the play doh or make animals with the play doh.

Seasonal Activities for Speech and Language Development

Along with toys and play based activities, there are also seasonal based activities that are perfect for speech and language development.  Here are just a few of my favorites!

  1. Winter- Build a snow fort

    Build a snow fort as high as you can make it! Take turns playing hide and go seek, which builds reciprocal interactions, sharing, and turn taking skills. Additionally, concepts and language targets that can be highlighted are cold, ice, build, throw, hide, find, snow, under, behind, in, and out.  These concepts can be modeled for the child in short phrases, allowing them to learn, imitate, explore, and have fun!

  2. Spring- Jump in puddles

    April showers bring May flowers! Who knew language could be facilitated by something as simple as puddle jumping? Puddle jumping provides a great opportunity to work on action verbs. Modeling actions verbs, such as kick, jump, fall, splash, hop, and skip.  These action verbs can also be used to work on following directions and working on spatial concepts, such as jump over the puddle, splash sissy with water, and stand in the puddle.

  3. Summer- Eat some ice cream

    Ice cream treats bring about all the excitement and smiles! When eating ice cream, facilitate language through modeling and having the child make choices and requests.  They can request and make choices about the different flavors they want, cup versus cone, and the variety of toppings they can pick.  Model using one word, initially, such as cone, chocolate, and cherry.  As the child uses single words to imitate and request, adults should expand their phrase by one word, such as want cone or red cherry.

  4. Fall- Pumpkin picking

    When in a pumpkin patch, language can be facilitated through narrating the child’s experience and talking about all of the different pumpkins they see. Concepts can include: big, small, round, orange, bumpy, smooth, heavy, and light.  Children can also have the opportunity to make choices about the type of pumpkin they want to choose.

 

Communication is all around us.  Play and daily activities are some of the best ways to facilitate this communication and promote these important skills.  Communication happens all day, every day, which makes every moment the perfect opportunity to incorporate speech therapy at home!

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