The weather is getting cooler and the leaves are beginning to change.  What I enjoy most about fall are how many natural opportunities it provides to introduce speech and language!  If it’s too cold or wet to go outside and explore, you can bring the nature inside as well.  Here are my top fall-themed activities for kids.

  1.  Pinecone hunt! Grab a bucket or a bag and head out to your backyard or to a local nature preserve and search for pinecones.  Here are some ideas of how to play with pinecones, and how to incorporate speech and language.
  • Create a collage or display with the pinecones or create a “pinecone museum”. Talk about the different sizes, colors, of textures.  Ask questions about the pinecone, like where do you think this pinecone came from? Or what’s your favorite pinecone?
  • Painting with pinecones.  Who needs paintbrushes when you have pinecones?  They create such a cool texture when you roll them onto paper.  Adding vocabulary/words into this activity could include the words: bumpy, more, paint, mix, dot dot dot, up/down, circle, tree, etc…
  1. Raking leaves!  A great way to incorporate gross motor and language in a fun way.  The reward of jumping into the big pile of leaves is always such a small yet memorable experience that children will always remember.  Here are some fun ways to play and incorporate speech and language:
  • Bury each other or a stuffed animal, toy, etc… once object is hidden ask, Where did ______ go? or We need to dig dig dig! 
  • Add language and new vocabulary as you’re making a pile of leaves with your child including: scoop, rake, put in, big, more, dig, etc…
  1. Nature collage.  This is another simple and fun way to talk about nature and introduce speech and language.  I like to use contact paper to stick all your findings on, and hang in the window.
  • Talk about where you found what you collected.  For example: We found this seed in the big tree…, the pinecone fell out of the tree…, the leaf was way up high… 
  • Take turns picking out your favorite item and stick it on.
  • Put items in a bag and try to guess what it is by feeling the texture.

Most of all make it fun and enjoy the time spent together!!

Let’s talk about … SOUND EFFECTS and EXCLAMATIONS!


When a young child is struggling to talk, a good place to start to focus on are sound effects and exclamations first.

When working with young children on their speech development I like to explain to parents why this approach has so much purpose.

Sound effects and exclamations are powerful early speech targets to focus on with minimally verbal toddlers and here are my top 4 reasons why!

  • They consist of simple syllable shapes that are easier to motor plan (increasing the likelihood of verbal success)
  • They are spoken using interesting and varying intonational patterns, making them more satisfying to the child
  • They can be playfully embedded into different interactions throughout the day, allowing for frequent practice
  • They encourage the adult to focus on being a good speech model, instead of being a good language model speech is a motor skill)

Try some of these kinds of sounds not only at playtime but throughout the day.  Here are some examples:

When your child sees a dog outside, on a commercial, or while reading a book, model panting “Ha Ha Ha” or barking “Woof Woof”.


When you see someone sleeping, model yawning, snoring, and say, “Sh!”

As a toddler plays in the kitchen while the parent is cooking, get out the dishes, pots, and pans and excitedly say, “Boom! Boom!” as you bang a spoon on the bottom of the bowl or “Swish! Swish!” as you pretend to stir.

While at the park, point out children going down the slide and say, “Weee!”

More than anything, remember to get NOISY to help your child move towards using words!

September is National Car Seat Safety Month. Knowing the specific details depends on the brand of a car seat and what their crash-test rated height and weight specifications are, but Kids Place Therapy Services wanted to provide you with a basic overview about proper car seat use.

Car Seat Safety Guide - Parenting

By law, in the state of Illinois, a child should always be positioned rear-facing until the age of two unless the child has exceeded 40 pounds in weight or 40 inches in height. As your child’s legs are getting longer, they may appear to be cramped in rear-facing, but rest assured their joints, and ligaments are looser than ours and can tolerate those positions better than we can. Research has shown that more injuries occur to the hips and legs when a child is forward-facing as their legs can get pinned between the seats.

After a child outgrows the maximum height or weight of your rear-facing car seat, they may then be ready to transition to a forward-facing car seat with a tether and harness system. Then you will again look for that maximum height or weight restrictions to transition to a booster seat before your child outgrows and progresses to the car’s seat belt system. The seat belt should cross over the upper thighs, not the stomach, and should cross the chest without hitting the neck or face. It is also important to keep in mind that children under the age of 12 years old should be riding in the back seat of the car especially if they have not yet outgrown the height and weight restrictions of a booster seat.

For further questions on the proper installation of your child’s car seat, it is recommended that you contact a Child Passenger Safety Technician. You can use the following link to locate a technician They even have options in their search feature to locate a local technician with knowledge in proper car seat safety with children with special needs or instruction in other languages.


Age, weight, and height requirements for child car seats in Illinois. Seidman, Margulis & Fairman, LLP. (2020, November 16).

Car seats and booster seats. NHTSA. (n.d.).

Corley, H. (n.d.). Is it safe for baby’s legs to touch the seat when riding rear-facing? Verywell