Do you ever take your speech sessions or classroom lessons outdoors? Children LOVE being outside and there are truly so many benefits to bringing the learning outside. Today, I am sharing some fun (and FUNctional) outdoor speech activities to build language skills! These low-cost, engaging activities are the perfect way to mix up your speech sessions when the weather is nice out!
1. Use Water Play For Language Skills
First up, this one is always a crowd favorite among preschoolers and young learners! For this activity, you can use a water table or go the DIY route. Water tables are typically pretty inexpensive from stores like Target, Walmart, and even on Amazon if you're interested in investing in a larger piece. There are lots of options for less than $50!
Alternatively, you can go the DIY route and grab yourself a large plastic storage bin. For this option I've found that a bin that with short walls works great for students. They can play without having to stand up and lean up. No falling in is a good rule to have! :-)
Fill your bin or table with water and throw in a bunch of random items. Seriously, just about anything you can find laying around like bath toys, cups, plastic dishes, funnels, paintbrushes, and sponges all work great! From there, let your students start playing and exploring.
Talk about which items float and which ones sink. Ask students what the water feels like. Ask them to describe the items they find in the tub. Can you see the endless possibilities for language development?!
2. Try Sandbox Activities
Next up, this is very similar to the water table and provides a great sensory activity to practice language and speech skills outdoors. Many schools and parks will already have a sandbox however; if you don't have access to one you can easily make one! Use that same plastic storage bin or an empty water table and fill it with sand. Play sand can be found at hardware stores and also in smaller bags of colored varieties at craft stores.
Hide toys and other small items in the sand and then invite your littles to start exploring! Ask questions like, "How does the sand feel? What did you find in the sand? What color is that? Is it soft or hard? Are you having fun?". I'm sure you can think of many more questions to ask!
Tailor this activity to suit the needs of your group and have fun with the mix-ins too! I love to use different seasonal items to match the time of year. A dinosaur or pirate treasure theme are also perfect for digging in the sand.
3. Bubbles For Speech Therapy
There are so many ideas and ways to use bubbles in therapy and kids LOVE them! I personally have used bubbles with students and children working on /b/ and /p/ lip rounding. This is a great way to practice this skill in a way that feels fun and exciting to your students.
Some other ideas for using bubbles are:
- Promoting Eye Contact
- Requesting Items
- Articulation (/p/ for pop, /b/ for bubbles, /m/ for more)
- Vocabulary (more, please, fun, bubbles)
No matter which activity you choose to focus on, your students will be engaged and excited to use bubbles! Check out the local dollar store for inexpensive bubbles and bubble wands to use with your kiddos.
4. Language Skills On The Playground
If you are lucky enough to have a playground at the school or therapy location then you must get out there. Play is a great way to work on those speech and language skills! Trust me, your little ones won’t even realize they are actually “working” when they are going down the slide, swinging, jumping, and running!
5. Go on a Speech Class Picnic
This might seem a little far-fetched, especially if you work in a school but trust me, it’s super easy! First of all, who wouldn’t love to go outside to have snack or lunch? Your students will have so much fun with this activity and it's super simple to facilitate!
First, grab a small basket, bin or container and get packing. This is the perfect opportunity to work on sequencing and following directions with your group. For example, say something like:
- “First, put your sandwich in the basket.”
- “Then, put your chips and drink in the basket.”
- “Finally, close the basket and say I’m ready for a picnic!”
Once all of your students have gone through the steps of packing up, head outside! Lay down a blanket or sit at a picnic bench and chow down! Don’t forget to continue targeting those language skills while you eat as well.
Ask questions like, “How do your chips taste?” or “Is your juice hot or cold?”.
And . . .if you can't actually take your kiddos out for a real snack or meal, try a pretend picnic! Follow all of these steps with play food to help your littles work on speech and language skills as well as imaginative play!
6. Planting For Outdoor Speech Therapy
Planting seeds is a super fun outdoor speech activity to try in the spring or early summer and will allow for check-ins as your plants grow. To get started, stop by your local dollar store for mini pots, seed packets, mini shovels, and soil. I am always able to find ALL of these items at Dollar Tree!
This activity is great because it can carry on across multiple speech and language sessions. First, head outside to plant the seeds with your littles. This is a great time to focus on sequencing actions and following directions. Next, students will get to check on their plants and water them throughout the coming weeks. This will create an extra level of excitement to come to the speech room!
As students monitor growth of their plants, ask questions about their observations and ask them to describe changes. This is such a meaningful and fun activity that your students will love and remember for years to come.
7. Outdoor Speech Scavenger Hunt
See what your students can find (i.e. leaves, rocks, bugs, a feather, etc.) and talk about them. This is perfect for describing, using senses (touch, smell, sound), following directions, turn-taking, and more!
To make your “nature walk” a little easier to target all of these skills, I made a FREEBIE just for you! This fun freebie comes with a printable checklist to help facilitate this fun activity. Students will love checking each item off they find! As they find an item on their list, don't forget to ask for descriptions to really target those speech and language skills.
Grab the Nature Scavenger Hunt Freebie and head outside with your littles!
Save These Ideas For Later!
Don't forget to save this post to your favorite Pinterest board for when you're ready to dive into outdoor speech therapy activities with your students!