4 Backyard Activities for Speech Modification & Stuttering

children working on stutter through garden activities

If your child is someone who stutters, they are likely working on speech modification strategies with their speech therapist. Some of these common strategies include reducing their rate of speech (i.e. turtle talk), light contacts (i.e. touching lips together lightly to make a “b” sound), and easy onset (i.e. breathing in and stretching out the first sound). With warm weather finally arriving, here are a few outdoor games and activities you can use to work on your child’s speech modification and stutter outside of the therapy room!

Scavenger Hunt: Create a list of items that your child can find in the backyard, at the park, in the zoo, or around the neighborhood. Your child can practice using their strategies by saying what they need to find (e.g. I need to find a white flower; I need to find a leaf; etc.) and also indicating when they find the item. You can extend the activity by having them collect some of the things they found on the scavenger hunt and use their strategies to explain how they found them or what they like about the item.

I Spy: Play the classic game ‘I Spy’ with your child while outdoors. Using some of the strategies listed above, your child can practice saying phrases like “I spy with my little eye, something blue!” While you are guessing, take the opportunity to model a slower, reduced rate of speech. Then when roles are reversed, continue to model a slow rate of speech and encourage your child to use a similar pace while making their guesses.

Bug Safari: Have your child use toy binoculars or a magnifying glass to search for a variety of bugs around the backyard or in the neighborhood. Have your child describe what they have found as well as what each bug looks like (e.g. I see a lady bug; it is red with black polka dots). You can then ask your child questions about each bug (e.g. What does it do? Where does it live? etc.) and remind them to use their strategies while responding to questions.

Nurturing Plants: Taking care of a small flower or plant is a great way to get practice using fluency strategies a little bit each and every day! Your child can practice by describing what the plant looks like on a day-to-day basis or what they need to do (e.g. Today, I need to water the flower. The stem has gotten longer this morning!).

Remember that throughout all of these activities you can model a reduced rate of speech and be sure to give your child your undivided attention. This one-on-one time with your child can help reduce communicative demands and foster more opportunities for fluent speech. While doing these activities, avoid interrupting your child and allow him or her to finish all their thoughts to foster their confidence while speaking.

For additional support and guidance, please check out The Stuttering Foundation. They have tons of useful information and free resources on their website. If you’d like to get your child in for an evaluation with one of our speech therapists, please contact us here!

Written by Michelle Konecki, M.S., CCC-SLP

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