Over the summer, children lose months of reading and math skills, according to several studies. When they return to school in the fall, teachers dedicate five or six weeks to review, rather than pushing students to explore new challenges. Luckily, we can encourage parents to help! In addition to reading, exploring museums and just playing at the park, check out five easy activities to help parents and clients prevent summertime brain drain.
Going on a picnic
- How to play: The starting player sets up a pattern of what can or can’t be brought on a picnic and doesn’t tell the other players. For example, if only food starting with the letter “s” can be brought, the starting player would say: “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing sandwiches.” Then the other players try to figure out the pattern by guessing words or items that might match the starting word and then listening to what other items are approved.
- Why it works: This classic game targets memory, word retrieval and vocabulary. Additionally, this is a great game for listening skills!
- Extra language twist: Work in categories. For example, you must bring fruits, vegetables, clothing items or words that start with a certain letter or sound.
- How to play: Start by looking for a word on a sign or billboard that starts with “A”… Once you find a word that starts with “A,” look for one that starts with “B”—go through the entire alphabet! Warning: This game can become quite competitive if you have a “race” to the end of the alphabet.
- Extra challenge: To make it even harder, make a rule that all players must use an original word—no repeats!
- Why it works: It’s not an overwhelming amount to read and it still targets articulation sounds and letter identification. It really is so much fun!
- How to play: Players describe an item they see.
- Why it works: Through this game you can work on describing, word-retrieval strategies and listening skills while still having a stress-free, enjoyable time!
- Extra language twist: Work on “wh-questions” by encouraging players to ask questions to get more information about the object. Also, you may want to limit the objects to certain categories to target categorical thinking. For added structure, remind your child to describe by category, how you use it, what it looks like and where you find it.
- How to play: This is both an app and a board game. In this game, a player has a word on his or her head, and other players describe it. The players continue to describe the word until it is guessed correctly.
- Why it works: This game targets describing, which helps children express their ideas in a specific, clear and effective way. Additionally, this is a great game for listening skills and gathering information!
- How to play: This classic board game has a large “game board” with different colored spots. A player spins the spinner and depending on the color it lands on, each player has to put a hand or foot on the designated color.
- Why it works – You can help your child work on sounds by writing letters on the Twister board, or work on sight words by writing words on the Twister board. Additionally, this is a great game for listening skills and following directions!
- Extra language twist: If you use a marker to write words instead on the colored dots, you can work on identifying sight words. You can also use words with target sounds for articulation!
Emily Jupiter, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist at Alphabet Aerobics Speech and Language Education (www.alphabetaerobicsspeech.com) in Manhattan and Southampton, New York. She works primarily with children ages 6 to 14 who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, and expressive and receptive language disorders. firstname.lastname@example.org.