Top 5 Kid-Friendly Places to Learn and Play in Chicago


Chicago is one of the best cities in the US! There is so much to do, especially during the warmer months. Warmer temperatures are coming (finally), so I decided to lay out 5 of the BEST places to take your children.

These places are not only fun and interactive but they are FULL of speech & language opportunities. Here are some of my favorite ways to promote your child’s speech and language skills. Allowing them to play is essential to their development! Take your child to any of the following places and watch them to learn to interact, problem-solve, increase vocabulary, & socialize!

Chicago Children’s Museum

What: Chicago is home to some of the best museums in the country. My favorite of the bunch is the Children’s museum. Kids can spark their imaginations as they dig for bones on a dinosaur expedition, play and explore real tools, and paint in an art studio!

How to target speech & language: Use descriptive vocabulary! The children’s museum is full of vocabulary that you can use while interacting. Location: You can talk about where the animals/objects are (under the bridge, on the table, going around the track). Textures: talk about how things feel. Much of the displays are kid friendly and contain textured items (i.e. smooth, rough, bumpy, slimy, sticky, hard, etc.).


Maggie Daley Park

What: This awesome park was just totally re-vamped! It is now kid-focused and features Chicago’s only outdoor climbing park. It also has tennis courts and picnic spots. Most importantly, it has a 3-acre play garden with an enchanted forest.

How to target speech & language: Socialize with peers! Almost all of the kiddos on my caseload struggle with taking turns. At the park, make sure your child is practicing social skills by saying “my turn” or “can I have a turn?”. Make sure your child is able to give it up up when you want a turn. You can also have your child offer a turn to someone else. You can use cues (i.e. would you like a turn? Does that little girl want to go next?). Learning to socialize with other children will help your child succeed in future social situations. Model to your child how you can play with new people and some introduction questions that can be used to initiate an interaction (i.e. Hi, I’m Jayne, what’s your name? Can I play? That looks awesome! I like your red ball! Etc.).

Harold Washington Library

What: A gorgeous library with nine floors, it has an awesome winter garden with glass ceilings on the ninth floor. Most importantly, the entire second floor is devoted to children’s books, games, hands-on activities, and multimedia tools!

How to target speech & language: READ!! Reading with your child is one of the best activities you can do to promote language and literacy skills. Studies show that time spent reading with your child is the best predictor of overall academic success. The American Association of School Librarians reported a study, (Wells, 1988) where researchers found that “the amount of experience that five-year-old children had with books was directly related to their reading comprehension (receptive language). Have your child re-tell the story, predict what will happen next, sequence events from the story, hunt for words to increase vocabulary, work on target speech sounds found in story, and answer basic WH-questions about what was read).

Shedd Aquarium


What: One of the worlds largest indoor aquariums. It is filled with bright colors and amazing aquatic animals. It has dolphins, sea lions, and hundreds of different species of fish.

How to target speech & language: Teach verbs and action words to increase vocabulary. Children should have more than just nouns in their beginning vocabulary. At the aquarium, you can model verbs and watch the animals do the actions (i.e. swim, play, slide, climb, go, hop, eat, flip, hide, stop, cover, bite, hang, etc.).

Adler Planetarium

What: This is the prettiest planetarium that I’ve ever seen. Kids can see the moon through different telescopes, watch sky shows,  compare the planets, and pretend to be space explorers in the creative and fun Planet Explorer area.

How to target speech & language: Start with having your child talk about everything they already know about the solar system, stars, and space. This creates content for future discussions and will help them discover what they learned. This is great for language used BEFORE and AFTER your trip. Decide what your child WILL see; WHERE and WHEN you will see it. after you leave, prompt conversation with open-ended questions “what was your favorite part? Tell me about two of your favorite fish.” Ask them some questions to require critical thinking, ‘why’ ‘how’ and ‘what if’ questions.


by Jayne Jay, M.H.S, CCC-SLP


Looking for more tips and tricks to help boost your child’s speech & language skills? Contact us today to set up a free screening or therapy service!

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