Explore Spring, Experience Language, Expand Minds


language skillsHow often do we go through our morning routine on autopilot?  I rely on routines to get everything done. If I’m out of order, I’ll likely go to grab my coffee only to discover I didn’t make it!  Or (more likely), I’ll find my cold coffee sitting in the coffee maker, waiting for me to remember it.

Part of my mission this year is adding mindfulness to our family’s life.

On morning trips to school, we talk about the colors of the sky, the shape of the clouds, or the pattern of light reflecting off the clouds.   After school, listen to the birds, see if you can find which one is singing.   Make a game of looking for a robin or to see if the trees are starting to show green yet.  Any spring bulbs coming out of the ground?  

Focus on being present in where you are and what’s around you.  Talk about what you see, feel and smell. What is there that you can’t see? Cool breeze, warm sun, sweet flowers…

If you want to give this a try with your family start by asking questions, and encouraging more descriptive answers.

Go to the Green Bay Botanical Gardens and take a walk…

Feel the warm sun on your face…

Hear the leaves rustle while the cool breeze keeps the bugs at bay…

See the infinite shades of green, the textures of the various plants, perennials, trees, herbs…

Smell the sweet flowers, the spicy herbs…

Hear the birds chirp…

Hear the crunch of the stone gravel path beneath feet…

See the artistic blend of green plants, wood mulch, stone and metal sculptures, combinations of stone, mulch or cement pathways…

Incorporate language skills as you play.

If they say “Sky”, you could say “blue sky”. For older kids, talk about the shades of blue.  Try to see all the colors in the “white” clouds.  How old is your toddler?  That’s about how long their sentences should be.  By the age of two, kids should be putting two words together.

Play with words and rhymes, like walking on “Rocks” in your “Socks” (socks are washable, right?).

Play Simon Says with 2 step directions, taking turns giving the directions.  “Jump over the sidewalk, then smell the flower.”  Make the directions simpler or complex for your older and younger kids.  1-step for your one and two-year-olds.  Your second-grader should be able to handle 3-4 step directions.

You can practice giving each other directions to follow when drawing pictures too.  Share a drawing together, every member of the family taking turns adding a part until you’ve created a family Masterpiece! 

More ideas…. 

Ask questions, encourage your children to ask questions.
Listen to the answers. 
Encourage curiosity. 
Model a variety of vocabulary words and correct grammar. 
This is the age of curiosity and scientists. 


Children are born scientists. They’re curious about everything around them

— Neil deGrasse Tyson


Use simpler questions for younger kids. By age 3 they are asking “Why” – help them explore the answer.  Kids by age four should be able to understand who, what, and where questions.  By second grade, they are asking and answering all the Wh questions (who, what, when, where, why) and learning to clarify their words and ideas. 

Ask what they think and help them come up with ideas.   It’s a great time to explore that curiosity and encourage their questions and their ideas.  Even if the idea is wrong, explore it with them.  Why do they think it will work, what do they think will happen?  If it’s an option, let them try it and see what happens.  At ANY age, kids are exploring and experimenting. 



Learn more language milestones and how parents can help


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Beth Dolar grew up in south central Wisconsin and has lived in the Green Bay / De Pere area for almost 15 years. She has a Masters degree from UW-Stevens Point and is a certified Speech-Language Pathologist in own private practice – Speech Spark Services, LLC. She is married and has two spirited children who attend a local Green Bay elementary school. Diapering frustrations five years ago led her to start her own company providing diaper variety packs – Diaper Dabbler, LLC. Besides being a mother, wife, and SLP, Beth is an artist, writer, reader, feminist, very-amateur gardener, researcher, introvert, and nature-lover. (Though not necessarily in that order!!) Read Beth's Posts