By: Mallory Bruce, MS, CCC-SLP
Summertime is officially here! The sun is out and the temperature is up! One place that is a popular vacation spot for summer is the beach. Many families visit this famous spot for multiple days to enjoy relaxation and sunshine. Not only is the beach great for relaxation, but many language activities can be used while playing in the sand or in the ocean waves. Here are some ideas for your family:
1.) Identifying functions – “What do we do with that?” “Why do we need this?”
Many families not only have children to carry down to the beach, but there are also practical things that must be taken to enjoy a day in the sun. Equipment such as umbrellas, sunscreen, beach towels, sand toys, and coolers are just a few essentials for a successful day at the beach. Ask your children simple “WH” questions to introduce the function and purpose of seasonal items while you’re packing them such as beach umbrellas, coolers, and sand toys. You can also expand on their knowledge of these items and explain the parallel between these items and everyday items. For example, a beach umbrella vs. a regular umbrella, a sand shovel vs. a garden shovel, etc.
2.) Following Directions and Introducing Sequences – “First, Second”; “First, Then”
A favorite pastime on the beach is building sand castles. This is a great activity for young children who are working on following directions as well as older children who are working on learning sequences. For younger children, provide 1-2 step simple directions for children to build a sand castle. Instructions could include steps like “Go to the ocean and fill your bucket” or “Come back and pour it here.” Parents may structure this activity to be as simple or as complex as needed. For older children, sequences can also be targeted while giving directions. Discuss what was done first, second, etc. Having the correct sequence is very important when building a sturdy sand castle!
3.) Hide and Seek – Identifying and Describing Items
This could be a great activity for first time visitors to the beach. Some children are hesitant to interact with the sand and different elements that the beach provides. Have one adult bury items in the sand and encourage your child to find them. This activity is a way to get your child involved with the sand and provides immediate rewards when they find the hidden items. They can also name items that they have found and answer basic “WH” questions if desired.
4.) Involve All Senses – What do you hear? What do you smell? What do you feel?
At the beach, many new things are introduced that involve all of our senses such as hearing the rolling of the waves, smelling salt in the air, feeling the sand between our toes and even tasting the salt from the ocean water. Simply asking your child what they hear or smell provides an opportunity for them to make inferences and predictions from input they receive from all of their senses. This also gives parents an opportunity to introduce new vocabulary.
Enjoy your next beach vacation and have fun encouraging your child’s speech and language skills!