What do you think of when you hear “the perfect summer day”? For me, sunshine, a long hike, and a warm campfire come to mind. With the school year ending and summer quickly approaching, everyone wants to spend time outside. There are several ways we can make interactions with nature beneficial for our children’s language development.
If you plan to explore your backyard, take a hike, or go camping this summer, here are some ideas for incorporating learning opportunities with outdoor fun.
Go for a hike or a walk through your neighborhood.
Talk about everything you see, emphasizing descriptive vocabulary. For example, “Look at the red lady bug!”, or “I see a tall tree!” Ask what, when, where, who questions about the different animals and plants found in nature. Describe the way they look and the sounds they make.
Play “I spy” in your backyard.
Have the children describe items the best they can using a variety of adjectives. For example, “I spy something yellow and round. It is small and has a stem. You can pick it.”
Talk about expected and unexpected behaviors for camping.
Ask your child to list items you might need when camping. Talk about what might happen if you forgot certain items. Work through problem-solving various incidents that might happen when hiking or camping. You can even pretend play situations such as setting up a tent and cooking food on the fire.
Talk about the order of steps to take when making a s’more, setting up a tent, going on a hike, etc. Point out the things you must do first, second, third, and last.
Practice categorization skills by having your child list different types of insects, animals, plants, etc.
You can group by color, size, function, location, and more.
Play “Simon Says” to practice following directions.
Make hiking fun by adding hops, skips, and jumps. Challenge your child by making multi-step directions such as “hop 3 times on your right foot”.
When you and your children get out into nature this summer, give some of these ideas a shot. There are endless ways to incorporate exploration and learning into your summer activities.