Speech, Language, and Literacy Activities for Summer Fun!
It's hard to believe that summer break is arriving soon. Below are activities to get our kiddos moving! These activities are designed to provide educationally rich, hands-on learning experiences. Inspiration for these activities is from my wonderful SLP colleague Kristin DeVooght, a master of scavenger hunts.
Some fun game variations: hiding treasures in a bowl of rice or in the sand, rolling a di for the number of treasures to find, setting a timer to find treasures, placing object partially disclosed along an obstacle course, racing to see who can find a treasure first, and voting on who finds the best treasure.
Select activities from below to uniquely benefit your child in the areas of speech, language, and literacy.
Please contact me at any time with any question or concerns regarding your child. I'm always happy to hear from you, Kelly
The Elements of the Story Improve Communication Skills Globally
Research has indicated that learning the elements of the story improves language comprehension, expression, and literacy skills.
Please see how Rebecca Szczembara, at that time a speech language pathology graduate student from Eastern Michigan University, illustrates best practices using multi-modal cueing. She is currently an SLP specializing in improving communication skills of children with ASD. So many will benefit from her unique brilliance. I am fortunate to be able to share her therapy with you today!
Use Multi-Modal Cueing to Improve Communication Skills for All Preschoolers
Click here for a digital tutorial demonstrating multi-modal cues that we have effectively used to improve speech, language, and literacy outcomes for preschoolers. These multi-modal cues are also showcased in digital clips as an effective evaluation and treatment tool with very diverse populations of preschoolers in my forthcoming book.
Recent research indicates that you don't have to be a speech-language pathologist to make a difference using multi-modal cues. Today, I encourage parents, teachers, and caregivers to use cues presented here or develop their own to more saliently teach preschoolers with and without disabilities.
Do not hesitate to contact me at any time. I would love to be of assistance in any way I can during this shut down. Parents, caregivers, family members, I know you can make a difference during this time.
The activities on this webpage are very educationally rich, while improving your child's communication skills. I will be updating this site with new material weekly so you are empowered to make a difference.
Life-long Learners Love Learning
Please know that I'm both a researcher and a therapist. Every detail of our practice is objectively informed by numbers, which are important because they give all children a voice. Listening to their "voices" (i.e., by following the numbers) has empowered us to create effective interventions in speech, language, and literacy development.
We know from the published research base and our own research, that children will simply learn more quickly and remember what was learned when having fun. These sentence strips are to request common objects and activities that are enjoyable for preschoolers.
Research has clearly shown that children commenting (e.g., "Look at") is a much stronger indicator of communication outcomes than requesting (e.g., "I want"). For this, we focus our efforts on commenting and are happy to report that our children typically develop "Look!" (with pointing) to share information as one of their first spoken words.
For hands-on activity ideas using sentence strips, check out this YouTube tutorial.
Make a Difference by Teaching Children to Comment
Know that you can make amazing strides with your child using these basic sentence strips to request access to desired activities and objects. To minimize sharing of germs, you can attach the sentence strips to high request locations, such as the fridge (for drinks and foods) or the wall of a toy room (to request toys and games).
See the attached YouTube clip of our Wayne State University SLP graduate student Rebecca Matuz by pressing here for multi-modal cueing of the "Look at" carrier phrase. At this time, we would not have the child touch his face (but keep fingers in the air) due to the current virus outbreak.
I have also provided an example in a YouTube Clip explaining why we gesture slowly so your child can both process the information and join you in producing sounds and movements in which I do not touch my face when cueing.
Address the Rounding of Lips with "r" and Tongue Lisping of "s" and "z" Early
In working with preschoolers, we typically focus on the "r" sound and decreasing the lisping of "s" and "z" as early as possible.
These sounds are unique in that they can become persistent error sounds. This means they can persist into adulthood and therefore negatively impact social, literacy, academic and even occupational success.
Why do the these sounds peskily persist by kindergarten age?
They are highly frequent sounds in our language. A child producing "w" for "r" and "th" for "s" or "z" millions of times by age five has created incorrect speech habits. Therfore, these error sounds would be difficult to change even with skilled speech therapy, active participation, and family involvement.
For this, we focus on producing these sounds correctly as early as possible. We have children say, "please" to request desired objects and actions in therapy with the ending of the word sounding like a "buzzing 'z' bumble bees sound." Children love it when we enthusiastically respond to their stinging bees.
To discrourage "w" for "r," we use the request phrase, "Scrape it to me please." The surrounding sounds in the word "scrape" help retract the lips to discourage children from producing "w" for "r."
The following speech perception and production activities decrease lisping of "th" for "s" and "z":
The following speech perception and production activities decrease rounding of the lips of "w" for the "r" sound:
Treat Common Speech Errors to Improve Both Speech Perception and Production
Many preschoolers present with common difficulties in saying speech sounds clearly, which can also impact their perception of sounds in learning to read.
These minimal pair activities are designed to improve both speech perception and production of sounds, which are beneficial for both speech and literacy skill development. Having a child cut out the pictures additionally provides practice to improve fine motor skills.
Click on the Links Below for Minimal Pairs Activities for Children Who Have Difficulty Producing Sounds:
We've found in our research that s-blends are the most potent treatment target to improve overall speech clarity for preschoolers. 3 consonant cluster "s-blends" produce greater gains than 2 consonant clusters "s-blends."
However, it's important to remember that children need to have a minimal 80% accuracy level with a maximum level of help. Therefore, 2 consonant cluster "s-blends" are a good place to start to ensure 80% accuracy.
Click on the Links Below for Minimal Pairs Activities for Children Who Have Difficulty Producing "S-Blends":
Below are 3-consonant cluster blend activities. We have found 3-element treatment targets to consistently result in the greatest gains for diverse groups of preschoolers in our research over the years:
Use Science Activities to Improve Communication Skills
In today's society and predictably in the future, it's not what you know that counts, but how you think. Those with higher level thinking skills are more likely to thrive in this world-is-flat information age.
Science encourages higher level thinking. For this, at preschool age, we focus on teaching the scientific method to give our kiddos a life-long leg up.
This clip illustrates how to use educationally rich science activities when improving communication skills. I added a 1/3 of a cup of household bleach to disinfect toys per CDC guidelines as well. Below is a data sheet to use in your own home experiments:
Let's Talk Science in Making Playdough
Making play dough is a wonderful hands-on opportunity to learn educationally rich vocabulary such as experiment, mixture, solution, solids, liquids, dry, wet, hot, cold, texture, sticky, smooth, shapes, and scents. You can also discuss the unique impact of each ingredient in the overall mixture.
Lastly, you can hide anything in the dough and "scrape it out please" to improve speech clarity, while improving motor skills.
My queen-of-play-dough occupational therapist friend Dianne Stall is retiring this year. She has bequeathed on to us her secret play dough recipes that she has refined over the years. Both recipes require some cooking. Therefore, adult supervision is necessary. The final product is worth the extra effort.
Why do Multi-Syllabic Words Matter?
Perceiving and producing syllables in multi-syllabic (also commonly referred to as "poly-syllabic") words are important for both early literacy development as well as improved speech and language production. Click here to see Kaitlyn demonstrate multi-modal cues to ensure an 80% accuracy level in counting syllables within multi-syllabic words. This educationally rich activity benefits literacy, language expression, and speech clarity skills concurrently:
Counting Number of Syllables Activities:
1-2 Syllable Words
2-3 Syllable Words
2-3 Syllable Words
3-4 Syllable Words
3-4 Syllable Words
See a YouTube demonstration using real objects here.
To improve speech clarity, have your child request with complex blends, such as "strike the rock" to count syllables. If your child is learning to talk, use the sentence strips on this page and have your child request by reading with "Look at____." See this YouTube tutorial to learn cues that improve speech clarity and cues to improve motor imitation and develop speech for children learning to talk.
Click here to see how we have effectively been able to teach rhyming to diverse populations of preschoolers with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder by using real objects and sorting them into bins. We also tape pictures on items like balls and throw them in the bins.
It's naturally rewarding for the children to sort the objects. Our Wayne State graduate student intern "Miss Kaitlyn" Alsheskie, who is graduating this spring, illustrates the cues we use to always ensure a minimal 80% accuracy level with all of our children. Click below to access activities that target both rhyming and speech sound practice for your child.
Identifying Beginning Versus Ending Sounds
The goal of the complex, phonological awareness activites below is to stimulate the cerebellum visually as well as auditorily. The cerebellum is the CEO of the brain. It decides what we think and do and connects to virtually every area of the brain.
The cerebellum is responsible for approximately 80% of the total neuronal activity in the brain. By targeting the cerebellum through auditory and visual-spatial challenges for young children, we can create complex neuronal connections in the brain.
One way to rewire the brain is to efficiently improve phonological awareness skills by targeting the complex skill of both identifying an individual sound as well as its position within words as beginning versus ending.
Try teaching this complex skill within the context of movement activities using kinesthetic cues. I share accompanying movement activities for each letter on instagram page kellyvessslp.
Our research has demonstrated this technique to be effective for populations of preschoolers with and without disabilities. This evidence-based strategy is demonstrated in this YouTube clip.