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Books, Baking, and Beats: Encouraging Speech & Language Development During the Holidays

With everyone’s busy schedules during the holiday months, it may be hard finding time to practice speech exercises at home during these eventful months. Luckily, the holidays present a great amount of opportunities to encourage speech and language development outside of therapy. Here are a few ideas to incorporate at home to practice speech while also having fun celebrating the holidays!

Books

Research has shown that reading aloud stimulates language development. Holiday breaks are a perfect time to head to your local library and check out some seasonal and holiday books to help build your child’s vocabulary, listening skills, ability to answer questions, and grammar. Here are a couple of holiday book ideas to target speech and language at home:

Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney

This book tells the story of a little llama who is excited for Christmas but is exhausted by all the activities surrounding the holiday. This is a great book to work on answering questions and basic concepts. You can ask simple questions such as “Where did llama and mama go?” or “What is llama and mama doing?” This book is also written in a lively rhyming format. Reading books that rhyme allows children to memorize familiar words and helps them develop skills to predict rhyming words, which is an essential step in the process of learning to read.


The Mitten by Jan Brett

When Nicki loses his mitten in the snow, a number of animals find it and crawl inside. This book is a great story to discuss illustrations or use it to target sequencing. You can discuss the order that animals crawl into the mitten and also target special concepts by discussing which animals are in/out of the mitten.

 


There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell! By Lucille Colandro


This time the hungry old lady swallows a bell, gifts, a sleigh, and many other Christmas-themed items. This is a great book to work on predicting, story retell, or sequencing. You can also work on basic concepts such as counting to count the number of items the old lady has swallowed.


Baking

You may find yourself in the kitchen more often during the holiday season baking or cooking for various parties or events. Baking with your little one is a great opportunity to work on their speech & language skills. You can target following directions by giving your child specific tasks or narrating simple steps and then asking him or her to recite the steps (“First we are going to add the sugar, then butter, and then eggs. Can you tell me what we are going to add?”). There are many opportunities to target responding to questions while engaging in a cooking or baking activity with your child.

You can target “where” questions by having your child help you locate specific ingredients in your kitchen and “what” questions by having your child help you identify utensils you need (or don’t need). You may have an item on the counter that you don’t need such as a mug, banana, toy, etc. and you can have your child tell you what you do not need to roll out dough or mix the batter. You can also target spatial concepts during a baking activity such as the word “in” (“Can you help me put the chocolate chips in the bowl?”), “on” (“Let’s put sprinkles on the cookies”), and “off” (“Now we need to take the cookies off the baking sheet”). There are limitless opportunities to target speech and language while engaging in a fun activity like baking!

Beats

Music is an essential part of a child’s speech development. Through singing, children can achieve improved articulation skills. In addition, singing combines repetition, rhythm, and rhyme, which help to develop speech and language skills. What better time than the holidays to sing fun, festive songs with your little ones?!

By: Bianca Minniti, M.S., CCC-SLP

 

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