If you are like many families, you are planning some kind of summer fun with your family. It may be a week at the beach, may be a cruise, or even a trip to the zoo. What ever it is there are ways to encourage children’s language and make the trips more fun for everyone.
When children have speech and language impairments every activity is an opportunity to improve their skills. There are ways to do this through pre-teaching, planning and good follow up.
Before the trip, make a list of appropriate vocabulary words to target. Begin talking about these words, looking at pictures and books including your target vocabulary. Tell stories about what is going to happen. You can also write stories about the upcoming adventure. Depending on the level of your child’s language skills you can write these stories for them with their input or they can write the story themselves.
Before taking your trip, make sure you have a working camera.
From the newest technology to an old fashion instant camera, photos are extremely important. There are even children’s digital cameras. They’re made so your child can take his/her own pictures of the trip without you having to worry about getting your camera broken.
While on your trip talk about the vocabulary and stories you made up prior to the trip and try to photograph these items for later use.
If this is an extended trip, talk each night about the events of the day. Also take time at night to plan the next day’s activities with your child. Maps and information brochures are great conversation starters.
During my last trip to the zoo we took home a map for Maya. She talked about the gorillas and butterflies for weeks and will still talk about them when she comes across the map.
After your trip is over, everyone will be exhausted yet excited to tell their stories. For a child with speech and language deficits this is not always easy. This is where the photos come in.
This is one of my favorite activities for language development as well as creating life long memories and stories.
Develop the pictures; print them, download them, whatever you need to do to get a hard copy. Many people these days will keep all there pictures on their computer and not print them out. Don’t do this. Get the pictures in your hand.
Go through them with your child and pay attention to the pictures that interests him most. Put those pictures aside for future use. As you probably have guessed I recommend putting together a scrap book. However this is not an ordinary scrap book. Not only will you and your child create it together, but he will be able to take it wherever he goes to help him tell stories of his family’s adventures.
The materials needed are: A glue stick, construction paper, a marker, a three hole puncher and 3 metal binder rings.
Glue one picture at a time onto a piece of construction paper. Together with your child, come up with a word or statement about that picture. The level of your child’s language skills will determine the complexity of the statement. Write the sentence under the picture and talk about it with your child. Do this with as many pictures you want.
You may want to break this activity up over a few days depending on your child’s attention span. This should not become tedious for them. If it does you can complete the book for them and read it to them when you are finished.
After all the pictures are glued on and the words are written, bring them into a printing shop and have them laminated. This will ensure that your memories will last a long time. After each page is laminated, 3 hole punch them and put in the metal rings.
You now have a personal story book that can enhance your child’s language skills. If you do this activity with every trip you’ll not only help your child develop language but you’ll also build memories that will last a lifetime.