Language Fun in the Sun

January 9, 2019

Happy 2019!

While we count down to the last few weeks of the school holidays, how about some water play to cool ourselves in the sunny Australian weather?

It is easy to add more language into water play activities. If you have toddlers or preschool children, here are some ideas to incorporate interesting language while you are out and about doing summer water play activities:

At the beach – in the waves and on the shore

When your child is building sand castles, you might start a conversation by talking about what your little one is doing. Below is an example to introduce words such as sand castle and shovel:

Adult: Oh, you’re building sand castles!

Child: Yeah, I’m going to make a big one. I’m going to use this.

Adult: Oh, you’re going to make a big sand castle! Are you using a shovel?

Child looks confused. Adult points to shovel.

Child: Yeah to dig.

Adult: Wow, you’re using a shovel to dig. Can I help you build the sand castle?

The beach is an ideal location to practice verbs in the water as well as on the sand, such as: splashing, jump, swim, dive, surfing run, digging, find, look, dive.

As well as verbs, the beach is a great play to introduce language concepts in context, such as:

  • Size: big wave, small shell, long surfboard
  • Texture: wet sand, sharp rock, slimy sea weed
  • Temperature: hot sand, cool water
  • Colours: red bucket, purple shell
  • Shape: round hole

A great family favourite of ours is ‘I Spy’. You can make a simple version using the concepts discussed above or just take turns to talk about what you can see or hear at the beach. For example: I spy with my little eye something that is blue and you can dig with it,

You could even take along some animals/dinosaurs/Duplo/ mini people for pretend play activities in the sand.

In the pool

Playing hide and seek or a game of treasure hunt in the pool is great fun with lots of opportunities for adding in a variety of language. Just hide some the toys in the pool and tell your child what to look for/find – you can make your instructions easy or more difficulty to suit your children’s needs. Let your child take a turn at giving you the ‘clues’ for finding a specific object, that way your child gets practice at careful listening, following instructions as well as using his/her own language.

Here are some examples of different types of instructions you can include:

Here are some examples of different types of instructions you can include:

  • Find all of the blue balls
  • Find something that has fins and sharp teeth
  • Find something that floats and is round
  • Find something on the big step that is red

If you have more than one child you can have ‘races’ to see who can find the object first, or you can encourage waiting and taking turns.

If your child is not interested in these types of games, little nursery rhymes and songs are great fun for the pool:

  • Humpty Dumpty (while sitting on the edge of the pool and ‘falling’ in)
  • Galumph went the little green frog
  • 5 speckled frogs
  • A sailor went to sea sea sea
  • Row row row your boat
  • 1, 2, 3, 4,5 once I saw a fish alive

There is even a lot of language that you can incorporate into the simple activity of blowing bubbles (under water or through a straw):

  • Try to blow: lots of bubbles, little or big bubbles, bubbles up high/down low, fast bubbles or slow bubbles.

Or you just talk about what he/she and you are doing in the pool, using short clear sentences with a range of vocabulary, such as:

  • Can you jump in?
  • I’m going to swim to the edge
  • Let’s blow some bubbles
  • Oh, that was a big splash
  • I’m going to kick slow… now faster, faster, faster!
  • Oops where did the ball go?
  • Oh, there it is … in the deep end

At a water play table (or even just in the bath!)

For reluctant communicators/talkers you can keep the toys in a see through, but hard-to-get-into container to encourage your child to request their favourite toys, creating a situation to motivate him/her to communicate/use language.

For younger children you can talk about lots of exciting things happening using:

  • Descriptions: full/empty, wet/dry, soft/hard, big/small,
  • Verbs: splash, spill, tip/pour, float, sink,
  • Prepositions: up, down, in, into, on, under, near, next to, with, behind,

For older toddlers/preschoolers you can introduce predicting – which ones might float or sink.

We hope these suggestions have given you some additional ideas on how you can add in more language while playing with your children at the beach, pool or at home with a water play table (or in the bath).

Have fun learning and splashing!

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