Got a Hyperactive Youngster? Try These Speech Therapy Activities for Kids On the Move!
Many at-home speech therapy activities and techniques, such as Speech Buddies, can often be squeezed into a few minutes here and there before bedtime, while making dinner, etc. In many cases, simply knowing how to talk to your speech disordered child can make a huge difference. But did you know that you can also customize your child’s favorite sport to turn it into a fun speech therapy session?
In recent years, there’s been a trend toward aquatic therapy for speech disordered patients. Some speech-language pathologists (SLPs) have been hosting their lesson plans in local pools or aquatic facilities in rehabilitation centers. In particular, patients with certain medical conditions, such as cerebral palsy, can benefit because they are afforded more support for diaphragmatic movement and lung expansion. The result is that these patients have achieved better articulation and voice projection. Plus, it’s fun and relaxing for your child! There’s a good reason why humans find the ocean so calming and peaceful; in fact, one could argue that humans are innately drawn to the water. But you could customize any sport to suit your youngster’s speech therapy needs, not just swimming.
If you’ve found that it’s tricky to keep your child engaged in speech therapy activities, try tweaking them to fit your child’s favorite sport. If he loves to swim, talk to his SLP about whether aquatic therapy would benefit him. Otherwise, take your cues from baseball, football, or whatever physical activity your youngster enjoys. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Use sports to expand your child’s vocabulary. They provide a great opportunity to work on verbs, adjectives, and prepositions. For example, make a point of describing actions to your child and encourage him to do the same. “Look, Lucas! Sarah’s Frisbee flew under (preposition!) the bench and into the mud puddle! What color is the Frisbee now that it’s all muddy?”
Here’s another sample speech therapy activity to work on more basic vocabulary. Toss a Nerf ball back and forth with your youngster. When one of you catches it, say, “I caught the ball!” This reinforces the connection between the word “ball” and the object. Tweak this concept to label various objects from other sports and descriptive words associated with them.
Articulation with Sports
Speech therapy activities with sports could also be tweaked to work on your child’s articulation. Play baseball, softball, etc. with your child. As he rounds each base, he must call out a target sound or word that he’s currently working on with his SLP. If he gets a hit or makes a catch, he will be challenged to think of a sentence with at least two words that contain the target sound. Tweak those rules to suit your child’s needs and interests.
Outdoors play is great for kids, but what if it’s raining outside? You can still do speech therapy activities with a sports theme, just adapt them to a crafts activity. For example, have your child draw a picture related to his favorite sport, such as a football. Then, write or have your child write a few target words that he’s working on inside the football. Give him a minute to review the words, then flip the paper over and challenge him to say as many of them as he can remember.
You could also have your child clip out his favorite pictures from sports magazines and paste them on a collage. Ask him to tell you a short story about each picture (narration skills!).
Sports as Motivation
You could also use your child’s favorite sport as a means to motivate (aka bribe) him. If he loves baseball, you could give him a gold star sticker for every 10 (or however many you wish) sets of flashcards he completes. For every 25 gold stars, he earns a trip to the batting cages. Customize your rewards system in whatever way makes sense for your family.