Family, Speech & Language, Therapy Activities

Therapy Thursday: Snowy day language learning for children (and their sibs) with Down syndrome

Sydney and her brother

It’s snowing! Here in Cincinnati we’re expecting 4 to 7 inches of snow. This is like a drop in the bucket for most people but here in Southern Ohio, it’s called “White Death.” So there is no speech therapy today with Ms. Jenn. I was talking to my mom (Susan at April Anecdotes) who asked, “But what about the die-hard parents? Wouldn’t they come to therapy today?” Maybe Mom, maybe. I told her that instead I’m encouraging a day of language learning at home – inside or out. She really liked that idea.

  • Outside Snowy Day Language Learning I have included scripts for each activity. The purpose is not to insult anyone’s intelligence.  Rather, it’s to illustrate all of the language concepts children can learn through these play activities.

Build a Snowman. Now I’ll be really honest. I haven’t personally ‘tested’ the pack-ability of this particular snowfall. In about an hour I will. Work with all of your children to build a snowman.

 “We need to make three balls (hold up 3, gloved fingers). First (one finger) we need a REALLY BIG ball. I need your help. Let’s roll the snow together.” Roll and make the base of the snowman. “Next (hold up two fingers) we need a medium ball. That ball will be smaller than this (pointing to base) one.” Roll medium ball. “We need to put it on top of the big ball. Look, a big ball, a medium ball. What do we need now?” Any child can answer. “Last,  we need a small ball.” Roll small ball. “Look this ball is small, that ball is big, and this one is medium-sized.” Ask, “Where does the small ball go?” Any child can answer. “Right it goes on top!” Place ball on top. “Who can show me the big ball? Now, who can show me the medium ball?” (and so on…) “Where is the medium ball?” (in the middle) “Where is the big ball? (on the bottom).

You get the idea. Building a snowman is a fun, hands-on way to learn prepositions, answer “wh” questions, and much much more! Don’t get upset if your child isn’t interested. Try building a mini-snowman on the deck with snowballs if your child doesn’t have the attention for a larger snowman. Or if they really like it, build a whole family and decorate with winter clothing.

  • Inside Snowy Day Language Learning

Make a Snowman inside. I have to be honest, my recent graduate student extraordinaire Kelsey Snyder, BS, SLP, found this great on google images ( She printed, colored, laminated, and velcroed it so we could use it with multiple children. You don’t need to get that complicated. Print, color (or have your child color) and cut out the snowman and clothes. Work on following directions, locations, colors, and clothing. Below are some examples:

“Where does the hat go? (on top)” “What do we put on our hands when it is cold?” (mittens/gloves) “Why do we wear winter clothes like a hat and gloves?” (to stay warm) “Is it cold or warm out today?”

For older children we work on following muti-step directions, “First put on the red hat, then the blue gloves.” “Put the scarf around the snowman’s neck, then put the vest over it.”

If you live in Cincinnati and don’t get to speech-language therapy today, don’t feel guilty about it. Have a little language learning fun at home. That’s my plan.

2 thoughts on “Therapy Thursday: Snowy day language learning for children (and their sibs) with Down syndrome”

    1. Thanks! Reality quickly set in when we tried to make our own snowman today. The snow isn’t wet enough – Boo! Then playing disintergrated into snow wrestling.
      Here’s another great outside idea: Paint on the snow. Work on color concepts! Put a little in a squirt bottle to strengthen little hands (an idea my OT friend in St. Louis gave me years ago). Spray colors onto your “canvas” (the snow covered lawn). If you don’t have food coloring, try packets of Kool-Aid. (Make sure you have on OLD clothes) Have some fun!

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