Language building activities you can do anywhere!

5 language building activities to do anywhere, anytime

Spending a lot of time in your car? Same. As a special needs mom, a big part of the weekly schedule is filled with driving to and from various therapy appointments. But guess what? All that time doesn’t have to be wasted! Language building activities can be done anywhere, anytime. These language boosting games are perfect for kids on the autism spectrum, or with any other non-verbal disorders. They’re not only fun, but utilize those long car trips to reinforce needed skills. 

Five fun language building activities:

  1. Press Pause. Music is a powerful tool for kids. The rhythm and repetitive nature of a favorite song can soothe a meltdown, but songs can also encourage speech. While playing a favorite song, press pause and encourage your child to ‘fill in the blank’ with the next words or phrases. Even reluctant talkers can be persuaded to keep singing their favorite tune. And it doesn’t matter if your child supplies the ‘correct’ lyrics or their own!
  2. Mystery Item. To keep busy during the drive, I pack a basket full of toys to keep beside my son’s seat. This basket of toys is easily transitioned to a language-building activity by asking my son to choose a toy and describe it to me so I could guess the item without seeing it. Kids love this game, because it puts them in charge, and they feel a sense of control. Even better, receptive language is improved as my son describes the shape, color, and function of the item. He is also working on hearing my questions and answering appropriately. 
  3. Pass the Story. This is a classic childhood game that can involve the whole family while building vocabulary, listening, and language. For this language-building activity, one person starts a story and verbally shares a few lines before ‘passing’ the story to the next person to continue. My neurotypical children love to jump in and play this game, and their participation encourages their brother to join in the fun. 
  4. I See. A simplified version of I Spy, this game is a vocabulary boosting activity using the objects seen outside the car window. In our early language learning days, I would simply name an object that I could see, and encourage my son to take a turn naming something he could see. As his language improved, I added adjectives to the items we passed. For example, whereas I might have started with, ‘I see a fire truck,’, I then added, ‘I see a bright fire truck’. This receptive language activity allowed my son to hear some of the adjectives I used, and then practice adding descriptive words of his own. 
  5. What do you do, dear?:  One of my son’s favorite books was, What Do You Say, Dear?  by Sesyle Joslin. In the book, characters learn the correct manners to use in social situations. When in the car with my son, we use the same principle to practice executive functioning skills and proper social responses in a variety of situations. For example, I might ask, ‘What do you do when you need to get ready for bed?’ As he lists the steps, he practices his vocabulary and planning skills. 

Do you have any language building activities your family enjoys? Share them in the comments!

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Language building activities you can do from anywhere!

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