IT’S SUMMER!! Looking for ideas for language activities during the summer holiday break? Here our a few of our favourites that can be played anywhere, anytime, and don’t involve the iPad or any screens. Whatever plans you have for the summer break, take time to engage with your child to help boost their language skills.
1. Word Chains
The aim of this game is to increase vocabulary, and also develop phonemic awareness skills by listening to last sound in words. Start by saying a word, for example ‘rain’. Next encourage your child to give a word beginning with the last sound of the word you said e.g. “rain” – “name” – “mask” and so on.
You could play this activity by selecting a category that all the words are part of, for example Capital Cities, food, names of people.
2. Describe and make barrier game
This activity helps to develop the skills for providing and following oral instructions. Start by drawing a simple picture making sure your child cannot see it. Provide your child with instructions of how to draw a copy of the picture. You may need to provide one step at a time for your child to follow. Change over. The drawing could be as simple as a few shapes drawn around the page. This activity could also be played by using blocks instead of drawing a picture.
3. Story chains
This game is sure to create some whacky stories! It is a perfect activity targeting listening, memory and language skills. Start by saying the beginning of a story, e.g. “I ate an orange”. Next your child repeats what you said and then adds another item, “I ate an orange and a mushy banana”. Keep going around, repeating the last sentence and adding a new item to the story chain until someone cannot remember the items in sequence, or drops out of the game. It is also a great way to demonstrate some grammar rules, e.g. ‘a’ VS ‘an’, ‘eat’ VS ‘ate’. Some other story starters could include; ‘I went to the zoo and I saw….’ ‘I went shopping, and I bought….’, ‘In Johns cupboard there was…’
4. Treasure hunt
Plan a treasure hunt by collecting a few items (5-10) and hiding them around the house. Provide your child with a list of the items they need to find and then give descriptions of where the item is hiding. For example, you may give clues of it’s location (e.g. up high, under, next to) or use descriptive words (e.g. it’s where we keep food cold). Change over and have your child hide some items and provide you with descriptions of where they are hiding.
5. Take a walk
This is a very simple way of incorporating language skills into an every day activity. It could be as simple as talking a walk around your block, or adventuring out to the park or beach. While walking, talk about the things that you can see, hear, will discover and encourage your child to do the same. You can encourage conversation by asking questions or comments such as ” I wonder what creatures live in the sea?”
6. What’s in the bag?
Collect a range of different objects and place them in a bag. Provide your child with categories which can be used to describe the hidden object, e.g. colour, size, texture, sound, smell, shape. Take turns picking an object from the bag being careful not to show it. Describe the object using the descriptive categories e.g. “It is soft and furry”.
7. Make a snack or treat
An activity that involves eating a treat is a winner. Following a recipe can target a range of language skills such as following instructions, using descriptive concepts, following a sequence and expanding vocabulary.
A simple no bake treat: Strawberry balls
Ingredients: 200g ripe strawberries, 1 cup desiccated coconut, 3/4 cup traditional oats, 2 tablespoons white chia seeds, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, 2 1/2 tablespoons desiccated coconut and extra to coat.
Method: Process strawberries until smooth. Next add the remaining ingredients and process until finely chopped and the mixture comes together. Roll into balls and coat with coconut.
8. Make a collage
Pick a topic or category, for example ‘food’, and cut out pictures from catalogues and old magazines relating to the topic. Talk about what they like, don’t like, where you might find it, what do you do with it, what can you make with it, and so on as you create a collage.
9. Keeping a journal
This is a great way to keep your child’s mind active during the break and help them to practice their grammar and stretch their imagination. Encourage your child to reflect about their day, how they feel, their thoughts and ideas. Here are some ideas to prompt your child to write if they get suck and “don’t know what to write”.
– Write about your best day ever.
– What is your favourite foods? Why?
– Write about what you are most scared of and why.
– Write about a time when you helped a friend with something important.
– If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be? Why?
– What do you want to be when you grow older?
Reading with your child is one of the best activities you can do to promote language and literacy skills. Talk with your child as you read together. Point to pictures and name them. Ask your child what they think the story is about, what’s their favourite part of the story, and answer their questions about events or characters. Have your child re-tell the story, or read you a story.
Do you have a favourite language activity? Let us know in the comments.