School’s almost out and summer is officially here! Summer is my favorite time of year in the Pacific Northwest. Our family has started a tradition of creating a summer “bucket list” of activities we’d like to see or do. Since my children are relatively young, I’ve kept our list pretty simple so we can actually cross some items off! This year, the top item on our bucket list was berry picking. Berry picking is a great activity for all ages, although I’ve found that the preschool and toddler set seem to like picking strawberries the best, while adults may find raspberries or blueberries a bit easier on the knees/back. Research has shown that children learn best through play. Additionally, when children have opportunities to experience something utilizing multiple senses, they expand both their word and world knowledge. This helps them remember and retrieve the information, as well as make stronger neural connections. All of this while having fun and building memories!
With that in mind, activities from a summer bucket list are a great way to incorporate your child’s speech-language therapy goals in a functional and fun way. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting some of our summer bucket list activities, along with ways to incorporate speech and language goals! Here are some suggestions on ways to incorporate your child’s speech targets when berry picking! As always, you can ask your SLP for more ideas that are specific to your child.
- Working on sounds (articulation): Name words that begin with or contain the sound your child is working on. For instance, many children are working on /r/. Words selected from berry picking might include: berry, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, farm, rows, ripe, green, thorn, farmer, flower, more, tractor, sprinkler, water, carton, terrific.
- Working on social skills (pragmatics): Incorporating social skills can be as simple as having your child say “Hi” and “thank you” to the clerk when checking out. It can also grow to something more complex, like having a conversation with the clerk or telling a parent about the experience later in the appropriate sequence. Help your child practice his/her skills ahead of time by role-playing at home (e.g., “Ok, when we go to checkout, what can you say to the clerk?) and reminding your child as needed.
- Working on language: As mentioned above, these activities are great to help your child build their word and world knowledge. Getting to see the plants in the field, taste a fresh, juicy strawberry, feel the juice run down their chin, and smell the sweet scent of strawberries are all experiences that cannot be found at the store or a book! Incorporating more senses helps your child learn new vocabulary and retain the knowledge. You can help your child expand their language skills by first talking about what you will do before you go to the fields. This might be something like “We are going berry picking today. We’ll drive for about 20 minutes, then get a berry flat, and pick strawberries. We want to find the berries that are completely red. We’ll pick some berries, pay for them, and then drive home.” You can help your child learn new vocabulary during the activity by describing your actions (bending, squatting, picking, eating) and describing the colors, shapes, sounds, and smells around you You can then extend the activity by having your child tell you or someone new about what you did. To add even more language (and some gross motor skills and math), get your child involved in the kitchen once you get home! In our house, we ate many berries fresh, but also made simple, 3-ingredient freezer jam, smoothies, and pie. This provides yet another opportunity for you to reinforce vocabulary from earlier.