Welcome friends! I am typing this while I am sitting outside on a perfect spring day. The sun is shining, there is a nice breeze, and it is neither too hot nor too cold. It is the perfect kind of day to do some planting with your toddlers! Planting flowers is one of my favorite spring themed speech therapy activities to do at home with my own toddlers. Let me get you set up and then I will break down how to turn this every day activity into a language rich activity.
Activity: Painting a terracotta pot and planting seeds
Book: The Tiny Seed, by Eric Carle
Best Time to Do It: On a Gorgeous Spring Day
Speech and Language Skills You Can Target: Sequencing, Following Directions, Plant Vocabulary, Past, Present, and Future Tense
You Will Need:
- A terracotta pot
- Potting Soil
How to Do It: Buy a terracotta flower pot. I got a 12” one because that is what my packet of seeds told me to get (I really don’t have a green thumb hah!) Set up your pot and paints outside and prepare yourself for a mess-but also to have fun! Before you start, explain the process to your child exactly what you will be doing using simple instructions. For example:
- First, we will paint the pot.
- Next, we will let the pot dry.
- Then, we will scoop soil in the pot.
- After that, we will plant the seeds.
- We will water the seeds.
- Then we get to watch them grow!
Listing out each step like this is GREAT for teaching sequencing. Sequencing is a super important skill because it is the foundation of narratives. A narrative is just a fancy word for stories. If you have ever wanted your child to to “tell you about their day”- you really are wanting to hear a narrative about their day!
Now that your are all set up, it is time to start painting! As you paint, talk about what you are doing and what your child is doing using simple words. A good rule of thumb is to try and use about 1-2 more words than your child is currently using when he/she speaks.
Let the pot dry, then come back, pour in your soil and plant and water your seeds. Let your child “help” as much as possible. Continue being mindful of your speech. Label your actions and your child’s actions throughout each step. Try and focus more on verbs (action words) instead of nouns (objects). We do this, because verbs are considered to be more “functional”. That means that we can use verbs in more ways than we can use nouns. When we focus on verbs we get the most bang for our buck.
Once you have planted your seeds, review the sequence from before. This time use the past tense of the verbs. For example:
- First, we painted the pot.
- Next, the paint dried.
- Then, we scooped soil in the pot.
- After that, we planted the seeds.
- Then we watered the seeds.
This review step is important for a couple of reasons. First, it exposes your child to the vocabulary words for a 3 time. (You really can’t repeat too much). Second, it exposes your child to the past tense form of the verb. Third, it reviews the sequence again. If your child has enough language, encourage him/her to tell you the steps in order.
Another mom tip-instead of dumping the soil into the pot all at once, try and find something small for your child to scoop the dirt. We used small plastic cups, but small shovels would also work. This does three things. First, it gives you the opportunity to model and practice the word scoop several times. Second, it is great for building fine motor strength in little hands. Third, it’s a good time killer. I find that when my kids have a structured task in front of them, the tantrums and whining are at a minimum. Less whining is always a win in my book.
To tie it all together I love strategically incorporating books and YouTube videos. It’s just one more way to expose your child to similar vocabulary words in a different way. For this activity, I love reading “The Tiny Seed” by Eric Carle. After you read the story, help your child retell the planting sequence one more time!
For the YouTube video, I love anything by Cocomelon. This Cocomelon “Gardening Song” is a perfect way to review the activity. I am a parent and I know most of us use TV to entertain our kids (no judgement). I feel like if we are doing it anyways, we might as well do it strategically.
One more thing! This activity also makes a perfect gift for grandparents or loved ones! I am pretty sure we will be making painted pots for my mom and mother-in-law for Mother’s Day this year!
If you are looking for more speech therapy at home ideas from an SLP-Mom, I’ve got you covered! I have these handouts that go over easy to use, at-home strategies and I also have this playlist of YouTube videos. These are great resources for parents looking to incorporate speech therapy strategies with their toddlers at home!
**Quick Disclaimer: The ideas shared in this post are meant to educate and help caregivers feel more confident implementing speech therapy-type activities at home. They are not intended to be a substitute for speech therapy with a licensed SLP, as each child has unique needs.**