It’s summertime and here in Charleston the weather is HOT and HUMID! This is a great time of year to pack up your sunscreen and towels and head to the beach! The beach can make for a stimulating and language filled afternoon for your child . Here are 5 ideas for incorporating language into beach activities:
1. Sensory Play
-The beach is a big time sensory experience. Between the sand, water, people and wildlife (yes, I am counting seagulls as wildlife) your child is engaging all of his or her senses. This is a great opportunity to work on descriptive words and phrases. For example, you might talk about hot sand, cold water or noisy seagulls. If your child isn’t quite ready to use these words, you can simply model them. So, for example, if your child is walking on the sand and clearly noticing that it is quite hot, you can take that opportunity to model the word “hot.” It might look something like this:
Child is walking on sand, hops up and down and looks at caregiver to indicate the sand is hot.
Caregiver: “Yes, hot sand!” (repeats this phrase as they walk).
2. Social Skills
If there are other children around, this is a great time to encourage your child to engage in cooperative play. Your child may need some help with cooperative play, and that’s okay! To do this, simply coach your child to share toys with other children. It can be as easy as saying “Joey’s turn, Tommy’s turn, Joey’s turn, Tommy’s turn.” Once you feel like they have grasped the idea, you can simply model or intervene as needed.
Side note: turn taking is a very important pre-requisite skill for social language development. Think of how often adults use turn taking in conversation. Teaching our kids how to take turns during play activities helps build a strong foundation for later social language development.
3. Following Directions
How do you practice following directions at the beach? Why, through building sandcastles of course! You really don’t need any fancy equipment to build a rockin’ sandcastle. Just a cup or your hands will do. While you and your child are building, take turns giving each other directions. For example. you might say, “put one shell on the top of the castle, then draw a window on the side.” You can add steps to the directions depending on your child’s level of understanding. Make sure you both take turns giving directions! Chances are, your child will be quite tickled to boss you around during this activity.
4. Sound Identification
There is a lot to see at the beach. While you are resting in a chair or on a towel, play a game of “I spy” with your child to practice sound identification. You might say “I spy something that starts with the ‘b’ sound.” Sound identification is an important pre-requisite skill for early reading. It is also a great way to model the correct pronunciation of certain sounds that your child may have trouble producing.
5. Quantitative Concepts
If you are lucky enough to be at a beach with many seashells or rocks, you can work on quantitative concepts while you hunt for these lovely little treasures. To work on quantitative concepts, you might say things such as:
“Who has more seashells?”
“Who has the most seashells?
“Put two seashells in my bucket.”
It is important for your child to understand basic quantitative concepts as he or she will often hear these words at school, and will need to understand the meaning in order to follow directions and complete activities. (Side note: quantitative concepts are basically just concepts that refer to an amount or quantity).
These ideas are not limited to the sandy beaches along the coast. You can adapt these ideas to be used at a lake, pond, pool or even just in your backyard! Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the summer weather because before we know it, the jackets will come back out and the smell of pumpkin spice lattes will permeate the air.