We finally got some snow in Charlotte!
Working on speech and language in the snow is fun because there’s so much you can do with it! Whether you’re venturing out or staying cozy inside, snow days present some unique and fun language building opportunities for our babies and toddlers.
Start with dressing
Getting dressed is a daily routine for your little one. And as I’ve mentioned in several posts young children learn best through routines and repetition. So this makes it a great place to start with language building on your snow day! You’ll probably be putting some extra layers on your child, but try following the same basic routine as usual, naming each piece of clothing as you put it on. You can also build receptive language skills by asking your child where each piece of clothing goes before putting it on your little one. Remember to give your child time to respond and if he or she doesn’t, just playfully show where each would go, then put it on.
Once outside, follow your child’s lead!
This is especially important if you don’t get tons of snow where you live. Van spent most of his outside time today walking on the sidewalk. We talked with Van about what he was seeing (mainly our dog Maxx eating snow and rolling around in it). When Van was finally ready he ventured into the snow. He thought kicking it was funny, so we spent a while doing that while narrating. You could encourage more activity once your child has gotten used to the snow a bit, using verbs such as “jump” “pat” or “throw”, but try not to overdo it here. If snow is something new and different for your little one, you want to give him or her a chance to safely explore without a ton of communication demands.
We haven’t bought Van a little sled yet, but this can be so fun for your toddler if you have a sled with a rope. Our little ones probably won’t like going flying down a hill at full speed, but they probably will love you pulling them around on a sled! To temp your child to communicate simply pull them for a little while, then stop. Don’t say anything, just wait and look at your child expectantly. If your little one doesn’t speak up after 5-10 seconds model the appropriate word or phrase (“pull”, “go”, “go Daddy” etc) then continue pulling your little one. Remember to try to keep it fun and light! If you don’t have a sled, a Cozy Coupe would also work for a “snowy drive” down the sidewalk. The link is to the one Van has and it comes with a floor board, which has been great since he hasn’t gotten the hang of walking the car just yet!
Bring some snow inside
Van has a little cold so I didn’t want to keep him outside for too long. An easy way to still enjoy the snow day is to bring some snow inside! This is great for older babies too! I set Van up in the high chair with some toys he was already walking around with and a couple of kitchen supplies and let him check it out. This was fun because he could touch it with his bare hands and we could talk about how it feels. I’d narrate “brrr it’s cold!” while poking the snow with my finger. The he would try poking it and I’d say the exact same thing. After a few repetitions like this, he’d try to say “brrr” while poking the snow, so we took turns doing that. This vocal play and turn taking is important for sound development as well social development. He also liked moving his toy animals around in the snow, and this allowed for more sound effects and vocal play as well! Toy cars and trucks would work well for this too!
Snowballs and snow blocks
As the high chair snow started melting, I squished some into balls and showed him how to throw it onto the high chair tray, saying a long “throooow” each time. You could also go all out and make a little mini snowman, add food coloring (mixed with water) to make snow “paint” or have your little one put snow in/out of a muffin tin but we didn’t get that crazy with it today. I did help him stack some of the snowballs when he got bored with throwing them and he liked doing that too.
Looking out the window is so easy, but interesting for our little ones. This is Van’s view from his new play room. He loved talking about the “trash”, “snow”, and “kids” on our street!
Try Some Snow Gazing
Van loves looking out the window! This is especially great if you live in an area with lots of people, activity, or wildlife. I love pointing outside and saying “Look!”. Then I wait several seconds before naming what I see (“a dog”, “tree”, “car”, “trash can”, “snow”, “kids”, etc.). Waiting is important because it gives your little one a chance to try to communicate what he or she finds interesting. Remember to go along with any of your child’s communication attempts, whether they point, vocalize, or verbalize!
And that was our snow day! It was nothing fancy, but I do feel like we made the most of it! I hope these tips help you support your little one’s emerging language skills on their next snow day! Let me know how it goes by liking this page or leaving a comment. I would love to hear from you!