Happy Super Bowl!!  Ok, I confess I’m not the biggest football fan and maybe I enjoy the commercials more than the actual football playing during the Super Bowl, but I know how important football is to many of the little guys I work with!  The way I see it, a lot of little boys love football and there is a higher prevalence of speech and language delays in boys than girls, so it’s probably worth coming up with some football activities to reach those guys.

Football Activities #1:

Playing Catch While Practicing Speech: Speech Sound Practice

One of my favorite things to do when teaching a child a new sound, is to incorporate movement into the practice.  If you can get your child moving while practicing a sound or word, it will activate more parts of the brain and make the activity more enjoyable.  If your child enjoys football, try throwing a football back and forth while he practices.  Pick one sound for your child to learn at a time and work at your child’s ability level:

  • Isolation: If your child can’t say the sound in words yet, start with just saying the sound by itself.  You may have to talk your child through how to produce the sound (such as by saying “bite your bottom lip and blow” for the /f/ sound).  You can practice it in front of the mirror a few times to help your child learn how to say it.  Once he can do that, you will want to practice it over and over again so that it becomes natural for him.  This practice can be done while throwing the football back and forth.  For example, you could just say “fff” every time you throw the ball.
  • Syllables: If your child is able to say the sound by itself consistently, have her make some non-sense syllables with the sound while throwing the ball.  She could say “fuh, foh, foo” or “uhf, oof, eef”.
  • Words: Once your child can say the sound in syllables, have your child try the sound in words.  Practice one word each time you throw the ball.  You can do the same word several times in a row or pick a new word each time.  Try saying a word when you throw it and have your child imitate it back on his throw.
  • Sentences: When your child can consistently say the sound in words, have your child make up a sentence for a word that contains their sound each time they throw the ball.

If your child gets bored with this, try working in some fun into these football activities.  For example, after 10 throws, let him run the ball in for a touchdown!

Football Activities #2:

Answering Questions

Now, let’s work on answering some different “wh-“ questions during football activities.  This is a skill that is very difficult for many children with speech and language delays to learn.  You can help them by practicing at home and specifically teaching them what each “wh-“ question means.

  • Where Questions:  Tell your child that you are going to work on “where” questions.  Tell her that “where” means place so whenever she hears a “where” question, she should come up with a place.  Now, play hide and seek with the football.  Put the football in a location and ask your child “where is the football?”  When she finds the football, she will have to answer the question with a place: “It’s in the closet!”
  • Who Questions:  Now tell your child you are going to work on “who” questions.  Tell him that “who” means person so whenever he hears a “who” question, he should come up with a person.  Get your family (or friends) together and play some music while you pass the football around the circle.  Whenever the music stops, stop passing the football.  Ask your child, “Who has the football” and have your child name the person who has it.

* If your child is working on “wh-“ questions at a higher level, try mixing the different types of questions together (sometimes ask where, sometimes ask who) or ask a variety of questions about a football game while you watch it on tv.  You could also look up pictures/videos of football games online and ask your child questions about those.

Football Activities #3

The Talking Football: Making Plans and Recalling Past Events

For this activity, you will need to pass around a football and have a prompt that everyone must talk about when they have the football.  For example, you could pass around a football at the end of the day and everyone must say one fun and exciting thing that happened in their day.  Or, you could pass around the football in the morning and everyone must talk about one thing they plan on doing that day when they get the football.  Just make sure that the person who has the football has the stage and everyone else must listen to the person with the football.  This will make sure your child gets a chance to speak and be heard.  That is often something that our children with speech and language delays miss out on because they can’t keep up with the speed of a normal conversation.

Enjoy the Super Bowl and these football activities for speech and language.  Don’t forget to head over to our store and check out our fantastic speech and language games, cards, and products you can use at home to improve your child’s speech and language skills!

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