d27bf707540f4e8a953834fc2744ba02 7 Language-Based Winter Break Activities For Preschoolers With Autism | Autism Little Learners

7 Language-Based Winter Break Activities For Preschoolers With Autism


winter-break-activities-for-preschoolers

Are you a special education teacher or SLP who has families looking for ways to work on their child's language skills over the winter break? Maybe you are a parent searching for some simple, yet fun ideas to target your child's language development during the time away from school? Check out these 7 language-based winter break activities you can use to make learning extra fun this holiday season!

1. BOXES

Have fun with all of the boxes you have from Christmas!  Have you ever watched a child open up an “awesome” toy, only to toss it aside and play with the box?   Boxes can provide endless fun and opportunities for targeting language skills in young children.  Here are some ideas for winter break activities using extra boxes:

Stack small boxes to make a tower and knock it down.  For toddlers who are beginning to learn to use their words, practice using “more” for each box, and say “ready….set….GO”!


Another fun activity for little ones with emerging language is to have your child get inside the box and practice saying “ready, set…..GO” and push them around the room in the box.


Play with toy cars together and drive “through”, “around”, “on top” of the box.  You can use crayons or markers to make a road, parking spots, and stop signs on the box too!


Grab a stuffed animal or another toy to practice putting it “in”, “on”, “under”, “next to”, “in front” and “behind” the box. 


If you have a big box, make it into a “fort”, or into a car to “drive” and practice using language at your child’s level (e.g. “in car”, “driving car” etc.)

winter-break-activities-for-preschoolers

2. EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES

Embed vocabulary into everyday activities.  Whether you are cooking a regular meal or making cookies for the holiday,  this everyday activity is a jackpot for encouraging language!  You can do this by simply labeling tools you are using (“it’s a spoon”) or describing an action (“I’m stirring”).  You can practice following simple directions by saying “give mommy the cup”.  There are so many opportunities to use descriptive words, verbs along with the vocabulary!

winter-break-activities-for-preschoolers

3. PLAY OUTSIDE

This may seem obvious, but getting outside is an amazing way to work on a child’s language development.  When you combine movement with working on language, it can be magical.  Whether you are pushing your child on a swing, playing in the snow, or simply out for a walk, there are tons of ways to purposefully encourage language.  It can be a simple “I Spy” type activity where you point to and label things in the environment (e.g. tree, snowman, car, bird) or expand to using descriptor words (gray squirrel, dog running, blue car).  No matter what activity you are doing you can model language at your child’s level, or just above their level to stretch them.

winter-break-activities-for-preschoolers

4. HOMEMADE PLAYDOUGH

Make your own homemade playdough.  Use the playdough to make shapes, numbers, letters, or characters like snowmen and animals.  You can work on receptive vocabulary (point to the square) or expressive vocabulary (what is it?).  Another fun winter break activity is to use a picture of a blank face and use the playdough to make different feelings on the face.  For example, “let’s give him a sad face”.  You can practice making these faces in a mirror while doing this activity. There are some fun winter-themed resources for playdough mats that focus on emotions.


Winter-themed-resource-for-playdough-mats

winter-break-activities-for-preschoolers

Homemade Playdough Recipe:

2 cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup of salt

4 tsp cream of tartar

2 cups lukewarm water

2 TBS vegetable or coconut oil

Food coloring


Put the salt, flour, and cream of tartar in a pot.  Mix together and then add the oil and water.  Put the pot on the stove and then cook over medium heat.  Continuously stir the mixture.  The dough will thicken and form into a ball.  Take the ball of dough out of the pot and place it in a bowl or on wax paper to cool.  Once cool, knead the dough and then divide it into balls (one for each color you want) and add food coloring.  Start with 3-4 drops and add more to get the color you want.  You may want to wear gloves so your hands don’t get stained.  Store the dough inside the bags to keep it soft.


winter-break-activities-for-preschoolers

5. BRING OUTSIDE IN

If you have snow where you live, bring a container of snow inside and play with it together in the sink or at the table (be sure to place a towel under the container)!  This activity is really good for encouraging language.  Talk about how the snow is cold, how you are digging, how it is melting etc.  There is so much to do and chat about when winter break activities include hands-on activities with snow!  If you are in an area where you don’t have snow, you can always purchase “fake snow” that you just add water to.  It’s so fun!!!

winter-break-activities-for-preschoolers

6. TOYS IN THE BAG GAME

Give everyone a bag (adults included!) and go into your room and put 5 things in the bag.  Come back together and describe what is in the bag and see if the others can guess what it is.  Or for a simpler game, pull each item out and label it.  Little ones love pulling things out of bags and showing them to others is a good skill to work on in itself!

winter-break-activities-for-preschoolers

7. HOUSEHOLD SCAVENGER HUNT

You can encourage exploration and movement while working on language development by doing a household scavenger hunt. Target receptive language by having your child find the items on the scavenger hunt picture boards. Encourage expressive language by having your child name the items when they find them. You can also stretch this skill by having them say it in a sentence. Other ideas include: labeling the function of the object (“what do you use a spoon for?”) or counting how many of each item they see.

winter-break-activities-for-preschoolers

BONUS: 

Use a visual schedule.  If your child is going from a structured setting (school) to a less structured setting (home), little ones with autism might need a little support to establish a new routine. It can be as simple as a “first-then” board or a longer visual schedule.  Visual schedules can help with comprehension and understanding the daily routine.  It can be an amazing tool for so many families!

winter-break-activities-for-preschoolers
Don't forget to grab your FREE blank face playdough mats here!

If you liked the ideas in this blog post, you should check out my blog post about using pictures scenes for speech therapy, toileting training, and autism, and tips for traveling with a child with autism!


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