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Language opportunities for Lucas in summertime

Published Date: 06 Jul 2023

Now that it’s summer, there are so many more opportunities to get out and about with Lucas. This is great for many reasons – he’s more likely to nap and less likely to tantrum – but it also opens up lots of conversational opportunities to build his language skills, both spoken and signed. Below are some of our favourites.

Lucas is predominantly signing – what started out as hand babble a year ago is now a medley of clear handshapes and short sentences. It’s not until I watch him among his hearing peers that I realise how strong his eye contact is and how expressive his hands and face are. It’s a joy to chat to him in this way – I just wish that more people could. We’ve been attending Auditory Verbal Therapy for nearly a year now, and he’s starting to tell me about the world around him with some spoken words.

Chatting about nature

We’re lucky to have a nature reserve just a short walk from our house, but wandering around the garden or finding a local park works just as well if you’re in a city. We start with the ‘open’ and ‘shut’ of the gate. Then we practise ‘stamp stamp stamping’ on the ground, the signs for ‘tree’ and ‘flower’, and pointing out all the colours we can see. We find snails and talk about their ‘round and round’ shells or discover rabbit holes and sign ‘house’ and ‘sleep’.

The British weather affords a lot of opportunity for practising the signs for wind, rain and sun. We have a beautiful book at home called ‘Tree’ by Britta Teckentrup which is great for recapping some of the things we’ve seen while we’re out and about, and we use it to practise saying the words or using the signs again.

Vehicle spotting

Lucas tends to identify vehicles in sign with an ever-increasing steering wheel size and a heightened level of excitement (the bigger the vehicle, the bigger the smile and the louder the squeal). Anything bigger than a Ford Focus is a bus, and if an actual bus makes an appearance then his sign becomes an excited bang on the head.

We talk or sign about vehicles being big and small, their colours, who’s inside them, how noisy they are, and so on. I’ve normally got a book about vehicles in the change bag too so we can match it to the things we see and talk about them for a bit longer once they’ve inevitably driven off, completely unaware of the excitement they’ve left in their wake.

Movement at the park

Lucas firmly believes that all steps and ladders lead to a slide. He was very disappointed when we climbed up the steps into a bird hide one day. Instead of marvelling at the birds, he was furiously signing "where" while also saying, “wheeeee”. His love of slides is a great opportunity for him to practice saying ‘up’ and ‘down’ at the park. We’ll say, “Ready, steady….” and wait for him to say, “Gooooo,” and then watch the slow descent hampered by his rubber-soled shoes.


I get hay fever – it sucks, but it also provides an unexpected language opportunity for Lucas due to the fact that he finds sneezing hilarious! Not only is he identifying the sound when he hears it, which is awesome, but if we say, “Aa Aa Aa…” he’ll inevitably end it with, “Ooooo”.

We’ve also been watching the bees collect pollen from the lavender in our garden, and as there are so many he’s able to practice signing 'same' when he spots more than one. His sign for ‘bee’ and his spoken word is getting much clearer too.

Water play

I love the idea of messy play but dread the reality. Summer is therefore very welcome so the mess can stay outside! We’re practising ‘P’ and ‘T’ sounds at the moment, so water is great for ‘pitter patter’, ‘pour’, ‘tip’, and for other words such as the ‘squeeze’ of a sponge and the ‘splashhhh’ of the water.

One of Lucas’s favourite signs is ‘boat’, so we also incorporate things into play where he can use sign alongside speech. We just picked up a load of different coloured boats in Aldi and then use kitchen sponges, plastic bottles and tupperware for the pouring and squeezing.


Tess and her husband Drew are parents to Lucas (2) who has a severe-to-profound sensorineural hearing loss and wears cochlear implants. They live with Lucas’s half-sister, Mairead (14), their Labrador and cat.