Pediatric Speech & Language Winter Activities

child speech therapy_winter activities

Fun Indoor Winter Activities to Develop Your Child’s Vocabulary

By: Kristen Lang, Speech and Language Pathologist
Snowman Feelings

Your little ones try to communicate to you in many ways.  They may use a combination of both verbal communication (the words) and nonverbal communication (body language, gestures, facial expressions).  When an individual learns to communicate, they will exchange information and feelings.

But what happens when your child does not understand feelings?  A communication breakdown occurs which may lead to feelings of isolation or frustration.  One way that you can work on your toddler’s feelings is to help him learn the words or vocabulary associated with emotions.  A toddler vocabulary should be made up of a variety of emotions such as happy, sad, mad/angry, surprised, and tired.

Try using a fun snowman craft to get started with labeling feelings.  You can get creative by coloring and cutting out a picture of a snowman or you can use a dry-erase board to draw your snowman.    First draw the snowman and then draw attention to the face on the snowman and label the emotion.  You can use simple phrases such as “Oh this snowman is happy! You look happy too!”  Practice making faces that match the snowman’s emotion.  You might also say,  “He is sad.  Can you make a sad face?”

Adults can also expand on this activity by talking about things that make you feel sad, happy, mad, etc.  You could say, “I’m happy when you give me a hug.” Or “it makes me sad when you fall and get hurt.”  Try using a mirror to practice making faces that match the emotion.

Next time you head out into the snow to make a real snowman you can ask “How does the snowman feel?” and give a face that matches the emotion.

Off to the Library
take your child to the libraryYour child is learning new vocabulary each and every day.  With each changing season there is always new vocabulary to learn.  Helping your child learn this new vocabulary is very important in helping him or her become an effective communicator.  It also helps with listening and understanding.  For example “Go get your shoes” will be replaced with “Go get your boots.”

As a parent or caregiver you can model these new words during daily activities.   You can also use seasonal books to introduce new vocabulary.  The cold winter months are a perfect time to take advantage of all that your local library has to offer!  The library has a variety of books that can help your child learn new vocabulary to go with the winter season.
Check out some of these great titles:

  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats:  This timeless book follows a little boy named Peter as he explores his neighborhood after the season’s first snowfall!
  • Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London:  This is a great book that can be used to talk about getting dressed before going out to play in the winter weather.
  • Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson:  This book features animals that gather on a cold winter night in a cave where bear is sleeping.  A great book for sound play (“pitter-pat” and “Ah-choo” are a few that you can model and encourage your child to imitate!).

Here are a few tips:

  • Use phrases such as “find the” or” point to the….” if your child cannot find an item ,you can guide his finger to the picture and then model the word.
  • Model sounds or words and encourage your child to repeat them back to you.  If your child is not yet saying single words then you can practice modeling sounds (e.g. “Brrrr”)
  •  Adults can model two words for children that are learning to put words together such as “cold snow” or “mitten on.”
  • If your child is familiar with the story, you can pause and see if she can fill in the missing word. 

Take advantage of your local library as a wonderful resource for you and your child to visit. You can make an afternoon of it and read the books in the library or take them home to read over and over again!