At the top is a close-up image of a child pushing a rubber duck down a slide on a water table. Underneath black text on a white backgrounds reads "five language rich activities for summer".

5 Language-Rich Activities for Summer

Summer is a fantastic time to engage children in activities that are both fun and educational. Here are five low-cost, language-rich activities for summer that are perfect for families to do at home. These activities are designed to enhance early language and communciation skills and are ideal to do when coaching caregivers in your EI sessions all summer long!

1. Encourage language skills through water play

Black text on a white backgroud reads "water play offers endless opportunitie for encouraging language and communication skills!"
On the right is a close-up picture of a child pushing a yellow duck down a slide on a water table.

Water play is a versatile and engaging activity that can be easily set up in your backyard, at a local park, or even inside with a large container of water. Water play offers endless opportunities for encouraging language and communication skills.
You can encourage a huge range of language during water play, for example, verbs like ‘splash’, ‘drip’, ‘scoop’, ‘pour’, concepts such as ‘wet’, ‘dry’, ‘hot’, ‘cold’, etc., and symbolic sounds and exclamatory words like ‘splash’, ‘wow’, ‘oo’, ‘yay’, ‘yuck’, etc.

I love encouraging caregivers to follow their child’s lead during water play activities. I coach them to watch their child’s actions/play with the water toys. Then to comment on, and copy, their actions/play. For example, if the child is pouring water from a jug into the container, the parent/caregiver can join in with the play and add relevant comments, such as “pour, pour, pour” or “fill it up”, etc. These summer handouts are full of ideas just like this for encouraging language skills throughout summer.

2. Support language and communication skills with sand play!

Playing in the sand is always a popular activity for young children! Whether it’s a sandbox (sandpit) or a smaller tray with kinetic sand, you can encourage so much language with sand play.

On the left, black text on a white background reads "sand play is a sensory and language-rich activity for kids!" On the right is a picture of a red-headed toddler playing in a sandbox.

Sand play is a fun way to model and encourage core words– filling up buckets with sand can be hard work and a great time to model words like ‘more’, ‘help’, ‘all done’, etc. It’s also a great time to model concepts like ‘wet/dry’, ‘clean/dirty’, ‘heavy/light’, etc.

You can coach caregivers to use the linguistic mapping strategy while playing with their child in the sandbox. Encourage caregivers to use words that support their child’s non-verbal actions, using their voice. E.g., if they are trying to lift the bucket but it is heavy, the parent can say “it’s heavy”, or “help me”. This helps the child hear words they could use next time.

3. Get creative & encourage language with sidewalk chalk!

Sidewalk chalk is an engaging yet inexpensive and creative way to support children’s language and communication skills.

I like to model and encourage gestures while playing with sidewalk chalk. You can easily model and encourage gestures while drawing together and when naming the pictures. I encourage caregivers to try to use gestures that represent the object they’re drawing. For example, if they’ve drawn an ice cream, they can model licking an ice cream when they name it, if they’ve drawn a car, do a “driving” gesture. It’s also a fun way to encourage pointing by encouraging the child to point to the different pictures, or where they want you to draw next. These summer-themed Early Language Handouts are full of simple ideas like this that you can use in your coaching sessions throughout the summer.

4. Encourage language skills while putting on sunscreen

This is a crucial everyday routine that’s also an excellent opportunity for enhancing language skills. You can easily target body parts and core words (‘help’, ‘open’, ‘more’, ‘all done’, etc.) while putting on sunscreen. You can also encourage turn-taking skills by taking turns putting the sunscreen on each body part.

On the left, black text on a white background reads 'putting on sunscreen is a practical way to target body parts and turn-taking!'.
On the right is a picture of one hand holding a bottle of sunscreen, squeezing it into their other hand.

My favourite strategy to coach caregivers to use (and which I use personally allll the time as a mother myself) when putting sunscreen on, is to offer choices.
I always offer the child a choice of which body part to put sunscreen on next, e.g., “your arms or your legs next?”. Not only is it a great way to teach body parts, but it’s also a good way to get the child “on board” and more willing to put sunscreen on!
When offering choices in this way you can point to each body part as you name it, and then repeat the child’s choice clearly (e.g., “legs, legs next”). I always remind caregivers that the child may indicate their choice by looking, pointing, vocalising, reaching, signing, or saying a word- and all of these modes of communication are valid!

5. Nature walks are a fun & free way to encourage language this summer!

Nature walks are one of my favourite activities to encourage families to do! It is full of amazing language opportunities (so many things to see!) but it’s also a totally free way to spend time- a suggestion all families are grateful for!
These Early Language Handouts for summer have some visuals you can share with families when they go on a nature walk.

On the left, black text on a white background reads 'Going on a nature walk is a fun and free way to spend time & encourage communication skills this summer!'. On the right is a close-up picture of some of the pages from the summer themed Early Language Handouts.

I often coach caregivers to focus mainly on commenting when out and about on a nature walk. There’s so much to see and to talk about- it provides a perfect opportunity to really focus on language input without any expectations put on the child- they can just enjoy the great outdoors!

Caregiver-friendly handouts for summer-themed language activities

If you’re keen to coach caregivers to use language facilitation strategies and support their child’s language and communication skills in language-rich activities this summer, grab a copy of our caregiver-friendly summer early language handouts.

Picture of some of the handouts from the Early Language Handouts for Summer. These are full of language-rich ideas for summer.

These evidence-based summer-themed Early Language handouts have been designed to support early intervention therapists to coach parents/caregivers to use various early language strategies in a range of engaging, low-cost, summer activities. A variety of ready-to-use, parent-friendly handouts are included within this pack.
The resource includes 12 language facilitation strategy handouts and 16 summer activity handouts. Perfect for using all summer-long in your caregiver coaching sessions. Check them out in my TPT store here.

If you’ve liked these language-rich activities for summer, check out my other seasonal activity blog posts here: