Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Activities to Increase Language: Homemade Sidewalk Paint

I'm always on the look-out for great activities to use for language development and after reading this post from Hands On: As We Grow and this post from Quirky Mama, I was inspired to try making my own sidewalk paint--a wonderful activity for enhancing language.  The recipe for sidewalk paint is easy enough:
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 box baking soda
  • A squeeze of washable paint
  • A couple tablespoons of water (although I had to add quite a bit more than "a couple tablespoons" to make it into a good consistency paint! It thickens as you go, so don't be afraid to add more water. The author of Hands: On We Grow recommends making it soupier than you think you need it, and I agree). 
Mix it all up in a bucket, head outside, and have fun painting the sidewalks! And, if you really want to jazz things up, you can let your kids spray the painted ground with bottles of vinegar and watch their paint fizz.

I love this activity for language development for a whole bunch of reasons:
  • It's flexible enough to use with a variety of ages. My toddler, for example, loved the painting part, and I used parallel talk, and description to model simple, new action words (paint, dip, wash) and expansion to extend her one word phrases into two-word phrases. This is a great way to increase vocabulary and sentence length in little ones.
  • Older children will enjoy helping make the paint, as my son did. While making the paint, I gave him different directions to follow. This is a fantastic way to work on receptive language by having children follow new one and two-step directions; it also allows for the introduction of new vocabulary such as "slowly" and "carefully" to describe how to execute directions. 
  • As a speech therapist, I am always on the search for very simple recipes that lead to something fun. I use them to help children learn to sequence simple events and tell simple stories about what they did.  I often take pictures of each step along the way, print the pictures out, and have children actually put the pictures in order before retelling the experience. This recipe is short and sweet, making it perfect for this type of language experience.
  • This is also an activity that easily lends itself to teaching descriptive concepts to older toddlers and preschoolers. It's easy to integrate simple conversation about colors, shapes, and sizes into the activity.  You can paint big circles and small ones, purple houses and red ones, short snakes and long ones. 
  • Using this activity with older children allows you to ask them to predict what is going to happen when you spray the paint with vinegar and then compare that to what really happened after it is all done. Doing this type of higher level thinking gives children a boost in the language they will need at school, where they will be called upon to compare and contrast, predict, analyze, and infer.
Paint, talk, and enjoy!

Looking for more activities for language development?

    Read the original posts that inspired this post at: 


    1. This looks like so much fun; I can't wait to try it out with my kids!

    2. Glad we inspired you to do it with your kids! So many learning opportunities involved that I never even knew about :)

    3. Following you from Our Family World GFC hop! Hope you'll follow back :) www.savingbythesea.com, Saving by the Sea on FB and @gracie680 on Twitter!

    4. Hmmm...I like the sounds of this! Must try it soon with my kiddos!

      Found you via the Stumble Hop and I've Stumbled this for ya! I'm also a follower now :)

    5. Great idea! And it is eco-friendly if you squeeze eco- friendly paint! I love the vinegar idea to watch it fizz! FUN! Happy Tuesday!

    6. Wow! Interesting activity. Thanks for sharing.... I must try it with my 1 year old niece..

      Stumble here, my post is http://www.lifeascending.info/how-to-center-an-image-using-html/

    7. Hi,
      Interested activity, loved reading that. I've stumbled upon Your post, thanks in advance for stumbling mine: The top 5 laptops for girls.

    8. How fun! And, definitely preferable to painting indoors.

      Stumbled :-) If you want to stumble back, my post is http://www.mamamommymom.com/2011/07/lesson-in-recycling.html

      Jamie @ www.mamamommymom.com

    9. That looks like fun!

      I stumbled you. My post is http://booksyourkidswilllove.blogspot.com/2011/07/have-you-given-your-child-banned-book.html

    10. This sounds like tons of fun, and simple to boot. Thanks!

      Stumbled you (late!). My post was: http://www.mapleleafmommy.com/2011/07/five-oddball-things-you-can-sell-online.html

    11. Just about time for chalk...My daughter loves it..
      I am your newest follower, I'd love for you to come check out my blog