Diverse Summer Children’s Activities to Increase Language Skills

This time of year parents are busily scheduling summer activities for their children. Summer is the perfect time use additional activities to help expand a child’s vocabulary!

Whether it’s a trip to a store, playing outside, or going to a waterpark, children are constantly exposed to language. When children explore different activities and visit new and different places, they are exposed to new vocabulary, and have new opportunities to expand their knowledge through personal experiences. By exposing children to new activities, parents and caregivers are enriching their child’s background knowledge that can be applied to academic activities such as reading and writing at school.

Background knowledge is an important part and foundational skill for academic success.When children make connections to what they are reading or learning, they increase their comprehension skills. When children read text that may be unfamiliar, they have to make inferences and assumptions to help complete the missing pieces. Young children or children with more limited background knowledge have fewer experiences to draw upon and may need additional support or context to understand what they’re reading. Increasing a child’s background knowledge helps a child’s vocabulary and reading comprehension: it’s simply easier to read text and understand it if a child has more background information to reference when he/she is reading the text.

While taking kids on a big trip to the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls for a vacation this summer is certainly one way to increase a child’s background knowledge, there are free and accessible choices available nearby, too. Don’t forget about opportunities that are highlighted in your local library, newspaper or community centers, and keep an eye on social media for free activities nearby that are appropriate for children. Here are a few fun and engaging opportunities by seasons that promote language exposure and learning opportunities for children of various ages. Make sure you talk about your activity to help the child think about his experiences, and deepen the learning by visiting the library or researching the activity even more online after you’re done.

During the Summer
•  Go to the pool
•  Go to a waterpark
•  Use sidewalk chalk
•  Go camping and make s’mores
•  Go to a zoo
•  Plant flowers
•  Plant a garden
•  Splash pads

During the Fall
•  Apple orchards
•  Pumpkin patches
•  Build a scarecrow
•  Go on a leaf hunt
•  Go on an acorn hunt
•  Carve pumpkins
•  Paint Pumpkins

During the Winter
•  Build a snowman
•  Make snow angels
•  Build a snow fort
•  Go sledding
•  Drive around to look at holiday lights or decorations
•  Make holiday or greeting cards
•  Participate in a toy drive
•  Write in the snow with colored water
•  Go ice skating

During the Spring
•  Go puddle jumping during or after a rain shower
•  Go on an egg hunt
•  Dye eggs
•  Visit a farm or petting zoo to see new animal babies
•  Go on a bug hunt

Activities for All Seasons
•  Sporting events
•  Trips to the library
•  Petting farms
•  Trip to the movies
•  Vacation somewhere new
•  Bowling
•  Play boardgames together
•  Go to a park

For more than 40 years staff at Grant Wood Area Education Agency have provided teachers, parents and caregivers meaningful opportunities to support the educational needs of their children. Now, parents and caregivers can access AEA support and resources through a new blog called The Carpool Lane. The Carpool Lane provides information on:
•  Best practices in reading and math
•  Tips on behavior strategies
•  Special education resources
•  And other tips, tools and suggestions!

Follow along on Facebook at @GWAEACarpoolLane

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