Are you concerned about your toddlers playing outside this summer? While the COVID-19 pandemic may mean precautions like social distancing and avoiding activities in close groups, it doesn’t mean outdoor time needs to be dull. Being outdoors and playing with purpose can still deliver adventures in exploration, sensory experiences, and creativity.
Picking flowers has more punch than you might imagine. The experience of colors and scents, as well as reaching and grasping for eye catching blossoms is a toddler’s delight. Both pre-talkers and toddlers who are developing their early vocabularies can benefit.
Narrate what you see; talk about colors and introduce your toddler to descriptive adjectives. It’s easy and fun to find the biggest flower, the shortest stem, and to point out the colors growing in your backyard or nearby park.
Water and ice present simple but delightful experiences on hot summer days. Playing with ice cubes in a tub of water presents opportunities for grasping slippery objects, pouring water with a measuring cup, and using squirt bottles. Incorporate language skills by using words like “wet,” “frozen,” “ice,” and “melting.”
Whether it’s a walk in the neighborhood, some time in a local park, or sandbox play in the back yard, outdoor time offers rich opportunities for language development through simple, engaging experiences.
One of the most beneficial activities of outdoor play is vocabulary building. There is so much to see and do as your child is exposed to new, outdoor horizons, that describing all there is to see, find, feel, and smell can add a wealth of new descriptive words to their imagination.
Take some simple tools along. A paper bag or plastic box can become a collector’s treasure chest. Colorful stones, fragrant flowers, different leaf shapes, acorns, pinecones, and more can make for an afternoon of learning and fun. A plastic shovel and bucket is great for digging, planting, or burying objects.
Sorting and categorizing adds structure to outdoor play. Have your child separate the green things from the brown ones, the hard things from the soft, the yellow flowers from the blue, etc.
Listening and directions help your child develop auditory memory and sequencing skills. “Pick two of the yellow flowers and put them in the brown bag. Then put your favorite three stones in the plastic bucket.”
Expressive language can be developed not only in talking about the many colors, sights, and sounds available outdoors this summer, but also in helping your child later recall what experiences they enjoyed outside. Encourage your child to remember and describe outdoor activities later in the day. What were their favorites?
Not all children develop at the same rate, and developmental milestones like crawling, walking, and talking can occur naturally at different times. If you have concerns about developmental delays, you should check with your pediatrician and look into an early intervention program.
Call TEIS Early Intervention at 412-271-8347 or text 412-543-8398 for more information. Our business Hours are 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, M-F.
At TEIS, our mission is to help families with children 0-3 recognize and overcome childhood developmental delays.
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