Summer Language Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Summer time brings warmer weather and outdoor activity. Here are a few of my favorite summer activities for toddlers and preschoolers that are fun, engaging, and language building.

Water Play

I am a huge fan of water play because it encourages communication, sensory exploration, and fine motor development. First, simply fill a bucket or bin with water and add household items to scoop and pour with (i.e. measuring cups, bottles, containers). Next, while your child explores, comment on the items they choose ‘you have a cup!’ and their actions ‘you are scooping the water!’ ‘you dumped it out! splash!’. This connects words and meaning to their actions through play. Lastly, add in some different textured items to touch and explore such as ice cubes, foam toys, or nature pieces for a fun sensory experience. Use descriptive words to talk about how these items feel ‘cold, squishy, hard’. 

two children playing with water


Blowing bubbles is one of our favorite summer activities and is truly suitable for all ages. You can buy inexpensive bubbles at your local grocery store or dollar tree or create your own bubble mixture at home using soap and water.  While blowing bubbles, simply model new words and actions for your child such as “bubbles!” “pop! pop!” “up! up!” Also, you can encourage your child to communicate by requesting “more please!” or “more bubbles!” when the bubbles stop.

A fun way to work on direction or location words is to blow the bubbles up high and down low and chase them around. Then, once you have practiced this game, ask your child, “Do you want me to blow the bubbles up HIGH or down LOW?” and see if they can tell you where the want the bubbles to go. This creates a fun game of choice and independence which is always a hit with toddlers. 

Chalk Paint

Chalking outside is a popular summer activity in our household. Creating “chalk paint” is an easy way to recycle your leftover chalk pieces. Here is how you can make your own:

1. Sort your chalk pieces by color and separate them into plastic bags.

2. Use a mallet or hammer to pound the chalk until it is smooth (place a towel over the plastic bag to avoid tearing)

3. Dump the crushed chalk into bowls of warm water and stir to combine. Paint beautiful colors on a cement surface and watch it dry! Talk about the colors you see and experiment with color mixing. Don’t forget to come up with some color connection words as you paint (i.e. “This color is yellow! Like the sun.”)

Chalk paint is a great summer activity.

Nature Creations 

Nature creations are always at the top of our “summer activities” to-do list. This summer, encourage your child to explore the outdoors by collecting nature treasures. You can simply hand them a bucket and have them collect a number of items from outside. Talk about what they find: leaves, flowers, petals, sticks, grass to promote communication, discussion, and new vocabulary growth. Use these new found treasures to create arts and crafts in an eco-friendly manner. Here are two simple crafts we like to create. 

Nature Crowns: Pick up loose sticks, grass, or other dry items and glue them on to a piece of paper that has been pre-measured to fit your child’s head. Ta da! You have a handmade nature crown! 

Creating with nature is a fun summer activity.

Nature Stamps: Collect loose or dying leaves and flowers from your yard or garden and gently paint the petals with water colors. Stamp them on a piece of paper to make intricate floral designs! 

Painting nature is a fun summer activity.

Read, Read, Read this Summer!

If there is one activity we will be enjoying this summer, it is reading. Reading is so critical to a child’s language development as a whole and here are some reasons why. First, children must be exposed to many words, over and over again, in order to learn language. Books are a great way to do this given their repetitive nature. Also, books have lots of illustrations and pictures which help build meaning when children are learning words. Who does not learn better with a picture or visual? Lastly, books allow children to connect, communicate, and share their interests by pointing to pictures, turning pages, asking questions, and sharing a story with someone. Here are a few ways to take your reading outside this summer:

  1. Read at a park or in your backyard
  2. Read about nature and have a scavenger hunt outside
  3. Have a ‘booknic’ with books and snacks
  4. Ride your bike to a Little Free Library.

Check out the Little Free Library’s World Map and find the closest Little Free Library to you!

A child enjoying a local free little library as a summer activity.

We hope you are able to explore some of these summer language activities with your little ones!

Another wonderful outdoor activity packed full of language learning is gardening. Check out Create a Garden with Your Kids, Even in Small Spaces for more inspiration!


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