Everyone loves the holidays. You get to spend more time with family. There’s the great holiday treats. The colorful decorations. The giddiness and anticipation of children. And the undeniable festive cheer that seems to fill every space, punctuated by holiday music in the background. Yes, the holidays are a time to celebrate family, togetherness, and the excitement of new things to come, and there is no better way to celebrate than to have some fun doing winter activities with your little ones. Below, I have included some ways to incorporate language activities into your festivities.
There is no doubt about it. Hands downs, children love cooking/creating in the kitchen! And it is a great way to create memories and get in some great language practice. And here’s a little secret: therapists also love simple cooking/creating projects because often a therapist can work on multiple skills at once. For example, during a cooking session, you can work on following simple or multi-step directions, organizing, identifying objects by description, labeling, and categorizing to name a few. You and your child can create elaborate family recipes where they are assigned tasks to follow, have to collect ingredients from a list you give them, sort ingredients by category or feature (fruits, vegetables, all the red things, etc.), or label the items you use in the recipe. For those less inclined to want to create a holiday masterpiece from scratch, don’t despair, simple recipes or premade items offer just as much language and motor opportunity. Building a pre-baked gingerbread house is a great activity where parents can incorporate all the previously mentioned skills. Cooking and decorating also offer great opportunities to allow children to make choices, identify colors and use fine motor skills.
Let it Snow
If you live in a Southern region, like we do in the Atlanta area, these activities may prove difficult depending on the type of winter we get, however, there’s always construction paper! But if you do have access to actual snow, these activities are wonderful and will have your kids talking for years to come. Trust me. Building an actual snowman is a great motor and language activity. It gives you and your child the opportunity to discuss the temperature of the snow, the types of clothing you wear when it’s snowing, the size of the balls you are going to use to build the snowman. Then, your child can decide what the snowman will wear and why, discuss the facial features of the snowman or have your child identify the facial features. If you don’t have access to real snow, get creative with what you have around the house; paper, cotton balls, and q-tips are a great start. Check out Hands On As We Grow Snowman Crafts for some fun ideas! Snow tubing or sledding are great activities that require your child to make requests for “more” or “(I want) more sled (please),” depending on the utterance length you are targeting. Catching snowflakes is a fun activity for comparing ‘more’ and ‘less’, size and time. Have your child practice writing letters, numbers and shapes in the snow, or have have them identify letters, numbers or shapes that you’ve written.
Light it Up
One of things I loved the most as a child was going looking at all of the amazing holiday lights. We’d go to this one neighborhood that was lined with lights and just be in awe. Actually, it’s still one of my favorite things to do as an adult! Driving around and looking at the decorations and lights is a great language stimulator. Kids light up when they see the lights (no pun intended!) and decoration. You can talk about what they see, the colors, and what their favorite decorations were. Of course, be prepared for them to want to do some decorating of their own!
Creating crafts that you and your child can treasure for years doubles as a great way to get them to practice some language and motor skills. There are tons of sites devoted to craft projects that you and your child can create. Activity Village.co.uk and DLTK Crafts for Kids are two wonderful sites that have a bunch of neat projects. From creating snow globes, ornaments, wreaths or while creating these projects your child has multiple opportunities to make requests, identify colors/objects, follow directions, label pictures/objects, identify and label by feature/characteristic.
As a parent, you can approach each project as a mini-therapy session. Plan ahead and choose projects that will allow you to incorporate skills that your child needs to build. It may also be beneficial to select materials that are appropriate for your child’s fine motor skill level so that they are able to participate as much as possible.
The holidays are a great time to create lasting memories, enjoy the company of family and friends, and a great excuse to eat more than you should! These ideas are just a few of the ways you and your family can celebrate the holidays, have some fun, and include language! We wish you the best as you celebrate with your families and Happy Holidays from our family to yours!