I love getting out of the classroom/therapy room to work on speech and language skills. Two of my favourite places are the gym or outside on the playground. You would think that the children would go “crazy” and not listen (it does happen on occasion) but for the most part it is a big treat. The kids also know that if they don’t listen then no more gym time. With kids at school expected to be quiet, sit and pay attention, it is a nice break to be active. If you would like to learn more about the benefits of being active in therapy check out this post.
Here are some of my favourite artic activities to do in the gym or outside:
1. Run a relay race. This is a great activity if you are running a group. At the starting line, the child practices their sounds an X number of times (I usually choose 10) then they run the the cone and back and tag the next person. I usually do time trials and see which run was the fastest. I don’t pit the racers against each other because I work with children with coordination or mobility difficulties and that would not be fair for those children.
2. Use scooter boards or skateboards. Have the children lay on their stomachs on the scooter boards/skateboards and have them use their arms to push them along a course. I will put groups of cards along the way and they have to stop and say the words before they move on. Occupational therapists like this because it works on upper body strength and if the scooter is small enough it can work on the child’s core.
3. Play HORSE. This is great for older children. Have the child shoot the basketball. If they get a basket then they say their words X number of times. If they don’t get a basket then they get a letter and have to say their words Y times.
4. Set up an obstacle course. Set up a course and have the children run through it. Have words ready at certain points and they have say their words before moving on. This is also great for following directions.
5. Hide cards in a ballpit. If you have a ball pit, this is a favourite activity. It works the same way as if you were hiding cards in a rice or macaroni bin, except the kids get in the ball pit to find the cards. I will often bundle the cards so that they have more opportunities to practice. This activity can be very hard on artic cards so I will use my old, ready to be thrown out cards. If working in groups, I will use a timer so that each child has the same time in the ball pit.
6. Run lines. Running lines was not my favourite activity when I was in gym class or during my very brief stint as a high school basketball player. Elementary school children, boys in particular, on the other had seem to really like it. It works like this, a child runs to the first set of lines on a gym floor then runs back, says words and then runs to the next set of lines. They keep at it until they have run to all the lines on the floor.
7. Scavenger Hunt. Hide cards around the gym and have the children run around and pick them up. Sometimes I have added clues to the cards to tell them where to go next.
8. Roll and do. A child will roll two dice. One will have the activity on it (run in place, jump, etc…) and the other will be numbered from one to six. They then have to do the activity and say the number of words that they rolled. An alternative is to use cards that they have draw to pick the activity.
9. Animal walks. Put two pylons out (one for the start and one for the finish line). Call out different animal walks (e.g. crab, bear, snake). The child then walks like that animal to the finish line and says his words X number of times. An alternative to this is have the children pair up and do wheelbarrow walks to the finish line then both children say practice their words. Another version is to have a sack race to the finish line.
10. Throw balls back and forth. Have children say their words while they are throwing and a ball back and forth. They say a word as they are catching the ball and another word as they are throwing the ball.