By Jodi Knight, Speech-Language Pathologist 

As the weather warms up and we are able to get outside more, consider going “tech-free” for a few hours. Here are a few activities that are free or nearly free great for building language, attention, play skills, and decreasing use of digital media.

Take a walk/wagon/stroller ride around the block and talk about things you see in the neighborhood:

  • “There’s a squirrel running up that tree.”
  • Point out a flag flapping in the breeze.
  • Talk about the colors of houses, cars, etc.
  • Discuss the flowers, leaves on the trees, the smell of the grass, etc.
  • Describe the weather, “It is windy today, the wind is blowing your hair” or “It’s sunny and warm today, I’m glad it stopped raining.”
  • If your child makes comments or babbles, try to get them to elaborate more or ask questions to encourage more communication.

Go to the park

  • Take a blanket and have a picnic or snack.
  • Talk about the people you see at the park, “That man is playing basketball, he’s bouncing the ball, etc.”
  • Point out and play on playground equipment, “Let’s go on the swing.” or “The slide is fast.”
  • Talk about any animals you see, “Do you see that puppy? He looks like grandma’s dog.” or “There’s a bunny, he’s hopping around looking for clover to eat.”
  • Provide opportunities for your child to comment even if he/she is not talking yet or only babbling.
  • Encourage communication and attention with pointing, gestures, and even commentating on your child’s babbling, “Oh look at that squirrel, he has a fluffy tail.”

Draw with sidewalk chalk or play with bubbles

  •  Sidewalk chalk and bubbles are cheap items that can be a lot of fun for kids and adults.
  • Draw some simple pictures on the sidewalk and talk with your child about the items you drew—neither of you needs to be an artist
  • Ask your child questions, and tell them about what you’re drawing.
     “I made mommy, she needs eyes, a nose, a mouth, hair, etc.” or “Look, I made a rainbow.”
     “What can you draw that’s blue? Green? Yellow?”
     “Can you make a tree? A fish? A house?”
  • Point out things in the environment they can see and draw—cars, people, bikes, etc.
  • Blow bubbles and talk about the size or shape of the bubbles.
  • Pop the bubbles and say, “pop the bubbles.”
  • Talk about the bubbles floating away or blowing in the wind.

Remember- the more you talk to your child and point out things in the environment, the more they will learn about communication, attention, and social skills!

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