Along with this new year came a fresh coat of snow, marking the start of another Chicago winter. It’s official: the time has come to move play indoors (except for an occasional snowman!) and find creative ways to keep our kids entertained and busy inside the house. But don’t stress, the fun is certainly not over! Enjoy these 10 activities to encourage your child’s speech and language development while playing indoors.
10 indoor activities to encourage speech and language skills:
1. Play a board game. Board games are loaded with language-rich opportunities, from learning to take-turns, to matching, counting, listening, labeling, describing, and answering questions. For specific game ideas, visit retail or manufacturer websites which often list games by age level.
2. Make an obstacle course. Turn your couch cushions into a tunnel, and pillows into a bridge to create various obstacles for your child to pass through. Give your child verbal directions to complete the obstacle course (e.g. first crawl under the table like a crab, then slither through the tunnel like a snake, and last hop onto the pillow like a rabbit!).
3. Read a book. Encourage your child’s interest in reading, by planning a weekly trip to the library. Let your child participate in choosing new books to read each week. For more information about reading to your child, visit this previous blog: Encouraging Language Development While Reading To Your Child.
4. Make an edible craft. Crafts are filled with opportunities to listen to and use language, from following directions, to describing each step, to sharing the finished product with loved ones. For edible craft ideas, visit this post: 5 Favorite Edible Crafts for Kids and How to Encourage Language During Snack Time.
5. Plan a play-date. Peer-interactions provide countless opportunities for your child to develop social skills such as turn-taking, sharing, pretend play, negotiating, and problem solving. For more ideas about planning a play-date, visit the blog: Building Social Skills Through Play Dates.
6. Choose a new craft. Crafts are a fun and motivating context to practice language skills, from learning new vocabulary, to following directions, sequencing steps, and using language to describe. The internet has many creative and free craft ideas that can easily be made at home! A few favorites include: dltk-kids.com and crafts.kaboose.com.
7. Create a scavenger hunt. Scavenger hunts are filled with both learning opportunities and fun. Give your child clues about objects to hunt for and where they might be hidden (e.g. it’s something cold and sweet, it lives in a room where we eat food). You might even let your child be “the teacher” and give you clues.
8. Play Simon Says. There’s good reason this game has been around for so long: it’s simple, silly, and fun. Simon says provides opportunities to listen to spoken language and follow directions.
9. Make believe. Don’t underestimate the value in simply engaging your child in pretend-play activities. Pull a few toys off the shelves, and have fun pretending. Whether pretend foods, dress up clothes, or a doll house, make-believe play encourages the development of symbolism, representational thought, ideation, creativity, language use, and cooperation.
10. Build a fort. Brainstorm together things you might need (e.g. a chair, blankets, a jump rope, pillow, etc.) to make a fort. Problem-solve how you will build it, and where it should go. This activity is not only fun, but it provides opportunities to follow directions, problem solve, sequence, and describe.