I Spy at the Park – Activities for Younger Language Learners
Language acquisition doesn’t have to end over the summer. Indeed, there are a number of activities that are perfectly suited to outdoor adventures such as a trip to the local park. Use these outings as a fun opportunity to play language building games such as I Spy and Simon Says.
Colors are one of the easiest concepts to incorporate into a game of I Spy. Explain to the children the only hint they are allowed to give is the color of the object they see. It is then up to you to figure out what the object is. Encourage them to be as specific as they can – they can use words like maroon, lime green, or cherry red. This will allow them to practice their color vocabulary, encourage creativity, and help them identify objects of similar colors as you make guesses. Be sure to guess a variety of objects each turn, taking care to point them out in case the student is unsure of what each word is referring to. For example, if the child spies something purple, that is probably a flower, but there is a purple car, shirt, or sign nearby; include the other objects as well.
Action words can be the most difficult to learn in a traditional setting. Showing a child a picture of a boy running may look like a boy kicking, skipping, or walking quickly. Running with a child and using the word to describe the activity will have a much more profound impact that will now have sensory memories to enforce the new word. What types of action words can you use at a park?
- Catch, catching, caught
- Run, ran, running
- Skip, skipping, skipped
- Slide, sliding
- Swing, swinging
- Throw, throwing, threw
- Walk, walking, walked
As you can see, another benefit to focusing on action words is the ability to incorporate the various tenses of the words.
This game is a great way to include a variety of vocabulary words and language skills in one fun activity. When the adult is leading the activity structure commands so they utilize descriptive words and physical tasks such as, Simon says:
- Bark like a dog! (action, animal identification)
- Hop on one foot! (action and body part)
- Jump up and down nine times! (action and counting/number sills)
- Run to the red bench! (colors, action, object)
- Touch your nose with your left hand! (body parts, right/left orientation)
This game will be more fun for children playing in groups but can also be entertaining with just the adult and child. Be sure to allow the child an opportunity to lead the game to encourage them to vocalize commands in addition to listening for your verbal instructions.
What are some of your favorite language building games to play outdoors?