Heading outside when the weather cooperates gives us another non-classroom environment to use for summer sessions. Changing up routines helps to keep otherwise potentially monotonous practice exercises fresh. Doing this will keep kids actively engaged and willing to participate. While it may look like summer fun, students are still working on speech and language, social skill, gross motor, fine motor, and other skills at the same time.
Duck, Duck, Goose
Who would have thought that this game from our childhood could be used to work on student attributes, social skills, listening, and attention? The reality is sometimes you can take a favorite activity and make it work well for specific goals.
Have everyone sit in a circle and pick one person to be “IT.” As the child who is “IT” walks around, they lightly tap on the heads of those sitting in the circle. With each tap, they state something about the player and say _____ duck. These must work on positive attributes of the other people like “red shirt” duck, “long hair” duck, “smart duck,” and more.
When the player says goose, the tapped person chases them around the circle. If they tag the person that was IT, they continue to be IT. Keep tabs on making sure kids don’t hurt others when tapping them on the head. You can also adapt it to facts about the people being tapped to work on friend skills.
Jump Rope and More
Kids love to jump around and sing silly songs. Jump roping games are perfect for this. These silly songs will work on building confidence, team building, articulation, fluency, and more. When you toss in the jump rope, you build gross motor, balance, and hand-eye coordination. Individual jump ropes will allow kids to twirl their own rope and practice jumping as they sing. Longer ropes may also be used for groups that are up for a challenge of twirling and jumping together.
Five Little Chefs has printable jump rope songs to use that will be perfect to laminate and bring along. There are also a lot of options to check out from Fun Games Kids Play. Another resource to use is the book Anna Banana: 101 Jump Rope Rhymes by Joanna Cole. Younger children may do better jumping and playing with a Chinese Jump Rope. They could sing the songs while doing the usual rules for this summer classic that is also easier to do inside.
Another fun jumping option for younger kids is leaping like frogs. Make a dozen or more lily pads out of construction paper and laminate them. Whatever skill you are working on may be represented on each lily pad. Perhaps it’s hopping, skipping, jumping jacks, or balancing for 10 seconds. Spread the lily pads around and take turns hopping around after rolling a large die. Kids will randomly hop around the frog pond and stop to do what is written on the lily pad. This can easily be changed to work on any type of session goal.
Continue to share what you have been working on with those at home. Therapists can give them ideas on how they can continue to work on the skills in fun ways over the summer. Be sure to include a set of translations for those that have multilingual families to be able to participate.