With Spring comes "spring fever" for must of us. This overwhelming desire to get out of our stuffy houses, schools, or rooms. We need to breathe some fresh air and feel the warmth of the sun on our faces. Ahh, Spring....can't you just hear the birds chirping as I write this? YES! I have the FEVER, so I thought I would share with you a few simple ideas (aren't simple ideas the always the best) of how to do therapy out doors. I suppose this is where I should make a caution statement: You will not be able to take all your speech kids outside. There are some, due to their disorders/disabilities, for whom it would not be a wise choice. Always bear in mind those students who are a flight risk and might get away from you. There are also those children who have sting allergies! I would be sure to take their Epi pen with me. Just bear in mind any medical needs before you head out. The next thing you need to do is clearly state the rules for your outing. Everyone needs to know what the expectations and rules are for going outside for therapy. Now grab a notepad and pen for keeping notes and you are ready to go!
There are many ways to hit those speech or language goals/targets as you walk. Here are a few suggestions:
Have your speech students find things that have their sound. You can have them say the word or use it in a phrase or sentence. Carrier sentences like "I see a____" or "I found a____" work great on a hike! To get you thinking consider these possible words: tree, road, gravel, playground, grass, slide, swing, chain, leaf, limb, bark, sun, sky, cloud, bird, school, bus, etc. The words you can target are endless!
For your older kids you might want make it a competition and have them list the words they find with their sound and use that word list in therapy when you go back in or the next session. The person who finds the most words wins! Or why not give them chalk and let them write their words on the sidewalk?
For your language kids this is a target rich environment as well! You can target many language goals in a very naturalistic way.
Example: Stop to look at tree.
- See the leaf? One is called a leaf but when there are more than one we say leaves. (irregular noun plurals)
- A tree has a branch. What else could we call it? (vocabulary expansion-synonyms, etc)
- A tree has bark. How does it feel? Rough (describing)
- Can you think of another way we use the word bark? Yes, it is how a dog speaks! (multiple meanings)
There are so many ways you can hit language goals if you stop to think about it. You could observe another class on the playground.
- I see a child on the slide. Do you see the children on the monkey bars? (irregular plurals)
- Why is that boy crying? He fell. Why is she in time out? She hit someone. (irregular verbs)
I hope these suggestions will get you thinking about therapy outside the therapy room!
Have fun with your kids in therapy this week and expect a new look from us the next!
Leah J. Musgrave, M.S. CCC-SP
Dean Trout (retired SLP)