Celebrating our nation’s birth and freedom comes with endless possible traditions and fun for the whole family! Use this Fourth of July to enjoy time with your family and friends and build your child’s speech and language skills while you’re at it!For the little ones:
- Action and sounds words that come with fireworks such as “boom, whoa, wow, oo” can be exciting to imitate. Pretend you are fireworks together by starting out low to the ground, standing up, and then jumping with your arms out and saying “BOOM!”
- If you go to see fireworks somewhere, model comments such as “Wow! Look!” and describing words such as “loud, noisy, pretty, up, high”
- If you grill out or make dinner that day, practice following directions such as “Get out the forks” “Can you get me a spoon?” “Put the bowl on the table” “Help me carry this to the table”
For the older children:
- Have them help you plan dinner. Talk about what you want to make, what ingredients you’ll need, what tools you will need, etc. When you begin to make dinner, target sequencing words such as “First, next, then, last, finally”
- Work on “wh‐“ questions by asking “who” you should invite for dinner, “where” to get the ingredients, “when” you go see fireworks, “what” to have for dinner or “what” to play after dinner, or “why” we have to be careful around fireworks
- Practice themed words containing speech sounds that are difficult for them. For example, s‐blends can include “mustard, sky, burst;” /f/ can include “Fourth of July, fireworks, forks;” and /k, g/ can include “firework, ketchup, pickles, grill, big, hamburger”
Sensory Tips: It is very common for children to be afraid of the loud boom. The whole family might enjoy these activities leading up to the fireworks, which will hopefully make the real thing a more positive experience!
- Talk about going to see fireworks and show them videos of fireworks that you find online. There is also a free app called “Fireworks Arcade” that allows them to set off or watch fireworks. Creating the positive experience ahead of time will help prepare them for the actual event
- Make fireworks out of chalk on the driveway, out of paint on paper, or 3‐D versions out of pipe cleaners or popsicle sticks! Make them different colors, and when you’re finished making them, pretend to make them go “BOOM”
- Read a book about a favorite character who experiences the Fourth of July, such as “Corduroy’s Fourth of July” for younger children or “The Berenstain Bears: God Bless America” for older children
- Dress up “silly” to go see the fireworks and wear earmuffs as part of the outfit to help muffle the sound
Abbey Vielhaber, M.S., CCC-SLP, is a pediatric speech-language pathologist who has been providing individual and classroom-based speech therapy to toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children through theColumbus Speech and Hearing Center since August 2014. She enjoys helping children and their families find the strategies that best support the child’s language skills so they can interact more easily at home, within daily routines, and in the classroom.
She received her Bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Bowling Green State University and received a Masters of Science in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Knoxville, Tennessee.