At Aurora Speech Clinic, we are so excited that fall is here. Not only are we excited about Halloween and Pumpkin flavoured treats but, more importantly, we are thrilled to introduce a plethora of fun fall activities into our speech therapy sessions. As parents, there are lots of simple ways you too can target speech, language, and literacy skills this Fall!
At the Pumpkin Patch:
Improve vocabulary skills by highlighting a variety of new verbs, such as: spot, select, pick, lug, grow, harvest, carve, etc. Choose a few new words to introduce. Explain what they mean to your child and then use the new words in a variety of different contexts throughout the day. Talk about other instances where the word might apply.
For example, if you introduced the verb “harvest”, you might talk about it in the context of harvesting pumpkins, and then you could talk about all the other things a farmer might harvest.
You could also introduce other concepts when comparing and contrasting pumpkins such as: bumpy, smooth, round, oval, tiny, giant, etc.
Improve listening comprehension/ direction following by highlighting spatial concepts (beside, on top, between, under, etc) and size concepts.
E.g., “Can you find a big pumpkin that is beside a baby pumpkin?”,“Let’s see if we can hide behind the pumpkin and scare Daddy”
“That pumpkin is big, but this one is even bigger. And the one Mommy found is the biggest”
Improve oral narrative (story-telling) skills by taking pictures of your day at the pumpkin patch, then print out these pictures and make a book detailing the journey of the pumpkin. Encourage your child to “read the book” to others by explaining what is happening in the pictures. You may choose to write text to go along with the pictures, or just focus on your child’s oral narrative skills.
Their story might sound something like this: “First, we drove to a pumpkin patch. Next, we got to ride in the wagon around the farm. I saw so many pumpkins. I picked this one because I think he is cute. Then, we brought him home. Daddy cut the top of him off and I helped Mommy scrape out all the goop. I wasn’t allowed to touch the knife because it’s too sharp. Daddy carved a scary face on the pumpkin. I think he looks funny. The end.”
Improve early literacy skills, specifically print awareness, by pointing out all the signs you see at the pumpkin patch.
Talk about the letters you see, the sounds they make and the words that are written.
Increase syllable awareness by clapping out the number of beats in Fall words like pumpkin, patch, carving, October, November, cinnamon.
Leading up to Halloween:
To target direction-following and expressive language skills, make a “Haunted house” obstacle course in your house with cheap materials from the dollar store or decorations you already have at home. Take turns, with your child, being the one who gives the directions and the one who goes through the obstacle course. Practice giving directions like, “First, crawl under the spider webs”, “Next, jump over the pumpkins”, “Then, run between the bubbling cauldrons” and “Last, hop on one foot to the candy prize”. You can increase the complexity of your directions over time and also keep re-arranging the obstacle course to keep it fun and exciting. If your children are older, you can also think about blindfolding the person who is completing the obstacle course so they need to rely completely on the person giving the directions.
To target early literacy skills, specifically phonological awareness skills, listen to Halloween songs such as “Monster mash” and draw attention to how the words at the end rhyme. Brainstorm with your child about all the Halloween words you can think of that rhyme (e.g., cat, hat, bat, rat, etc.).
To target social communication skills, generate a social story in advance and practice trick-or-treating before the big day. For children with language delays, especially those with autism, sensory processing disorder, or other social communication challenges, Halloween can be a very overwhelming event filled with new sounds, sights, textures (e.g., costumes) and very different social rules (i.e., It’s the only day it is considered appropriate to show up to someone’s door in costume, and without an invitation, and request candy)
We’ve found awesome social stories for Halloween here- so feel free to use these ones if you don’t want to reinvent the wheel.
What are your favourite Fall activities? If you have any other brilliant Fall themed activity ideas that you’d like to share with us, please let us know and we will share them on our Facebook page.