Language Fun at the Playground

The playground is an excellent place to get your child moving and working on their gross motor skills. It is also a great place to promote your child’s language development. Recently, my daughter has become interested in moving and is very excited when it comes time for a trip to the playground. She loves all of the opportunities for movement and social interactions. Below I have listed ways to provide additional opportunities for speech and language development at the playground.


Make Friends: The playground is a wonderful place to interact socially with other children. Practice using greetings by encouraging your child to wave and say “hi/bye.” You can also encourage your child to initiate a conversation with another child by asking them their name or if they would like to play.

Action Words: The playground encourages all sorts of movement, so what better place than a playground to target action words (verbs). Think of all the actions that your child can do while at the playground: swing, slide, climb, run, walk, jump, sit, play, stop, go, etc. You can model the word while your child is completing the action or have your child tell you what she is doing.

Basic Concepts in Play: A variety of basic concepts can be used to describe play at the playground. Examples of these concepts include: fast/slow, up/down, high/low, on/off, in/out, big/little, under/over. Use these concepts to describe your child’s movement or incorporate these concepts into

Ready, Set, Go!: Use anticipatory sets in play. Anticipatory sets are phrases that are used repetitively with your child so that she will anticipate what comes next. For example, you can place your child at the top of the slide and keep her in position while you say, “ready, set, go!” After you have said “go,” let her go down the slide. To encourage your child to interact using language, repeat the task. This time you will say “ready, set… “ and then wait. You won’t let your child go down the slide until she has finished the phrase, in some way, by using a sign, approximated word, or word. The sequence of ready, set, go is powerfully motivating to produce language, especially when something exciting is about to happen.


Follow Directions: Following directions is an easy task while at the playground and can often be turned into a game. See if your child can follow a simple 1-step direction (ex: go to the swing). If she can complete that task, begin to make the directions more complex (ex: go up the steps and down the slide). As your child masters simple directions, you can then begin to make the directions more complex by sequencing and adding basic concepts (ex: First, go down the blue slide, then, go across the green bridge).

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