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Summer Vacation Speech & Language Activities

With school out for the summer, many families will find themselves traveling. We all know what that means – plenty of hours spent in planes, trains, or automobiles. What better way to pass the time than playing games? With these ideas, you can help your children practice their communication skills. With any luck, they won’t even know that they are “working!”

“I spy” for practicing speech sounds and/or describing

I spy is a great game to get kids talking! There are two main ways to use this game for speech and language goals.

**Option 1: Articulation **

Play this game with your child by looking for items in your environment that start with their target sound(s). For example, if your child is working on the “S” sound, encourage them to find words such as “stop,” “sun,” “steering wheel,” “sombrero,” etc.

Option 2: Describing (categories, functions, appearances)

This is similar to the original “I spy” game. Take turns describing something that you see, using specific, descriptive words to do so.

For example:

“I spy a plant that grows orange fruit” = orange tree

“I spy a building where people go when they are sick” = hospital

“I spy an animal that lives in the woods and has big antlers” = deer

“License plate game” for identifying letters and their sounds

Identifying letters and their corresponding sounds is an important building block for literacy. For this game, start at the letter “A” and look at license plates of passing vehicles to find every letter of the alphabet in alphabetical order. When you find a letter, say the corresponding sound (e.g., I found the letter B! It makes a “buh” sound. B says “buh!”) To make it easier, you can also use letters from billboard, traffic signs, and other roadside items.

“20 questions” for asking and answering questions

Take turns thinking of a common item. The “leader” of the game thinks of the item and answers the questions. The other players are “detectives” and ask yes or no questions to determine what the item is. There are two main ways to play this game, depending on the questions that are asked.

Option 1: Yes/no questions

For example, if the “leader” is thinking of an apple, the game might be like this:

“Detectives” “Leader”

Is it an animal? No.

Is it food? Yes.

Is it a vegetable? No.

Is it a fruit? Yes.

Does it grow on a tree? Yes.

Is it orange? No.

Is it a banana? No.

Is it an apple? Yes.

Option 2: Wh- questions (who, what, where, when, why, how)

For this version of the game, the “detectives” can ask more specific questions using the wh- questions listed above. If the “leader” is still thinking about an apple, it might go something like this:

“Detectives” “Leader”

What category is it in? It is a food.

Where does it grow? It grows on a tree.

What color is it? It is usually red or green.

Is it an apple? Yes! It is an apple.

“How Many” game for categories and descriptions

This game is called “How Many.” To play, you name a category or short description and the child names items can that go with it. This can help form connections between vocabulary words, concepts, and categories.

Here are some ideas:

  • How many animals can you name that hatch from eggs as babies?

  • How many animals can you name that have patterns on their bodies?

  • How many animals can you name that eat leaves?

  • How many animals can you name that live in the sea?

  • How many insects can you name that have six legs?

  • How many vehicles can you name with four wheels? How many with two wheels?

  • How many things can you name that can fly?

I hope that one or more of these games resonated with you, and that your child(ren) will enjoy playing them in whatever transportation method you choose.