Language Outside: Puddle Jumping

Jan 16, 2016

We love to play outside every day, especially in the mornings. Exploring the garden and playground gives many wonderful opportunities for language learning, and it tires the kids out ready for naptime! Just now it’s WET, but that’s okay, because little ones love puddle jumping. Here are a few tips for some messy fun to get your toddler talking…


puddle_jumpingThe first thing if you’re going out to splash in the rain or in puddles, is to make sure everyone is dressed-up for it, so waterproof boots and trousers are a must. Once everyone’s bundled up, it’s time to find some puddles in a safe place and get jumping!

Young toddlers (first-words learners) get a motivating way to discover the words puddle, jump and splash. You could make a game of jumping in and out or up and down. You’ll probably get wet, dirty and muddy while you’re outside, and later you’ll have a chance to teach wash, clean and dry.

For toddlers with good language skills, puddle jumping is a perfect time to practice how to use when, e.g:

  • When it rains, we get puddles.
  • When you’re wearing your boots, you can jump in the puddles.
  • When you jump in puddles, your boots get wet.
  • When our boots are muddy, we take them off outside the door!

These sentences may look simple, but they are giving your little one a chance to develop some sophisticated concepts about cause and effect, time, and sequencing. You could try rephrasing the sentences as questions: When can you jump in puddles? When you’re wearing your boots! (Remember that children don’t usually ask when-questions themselves until they’re three or four.)

A fun event like puddle jumping is an excellent experience to use later for simple storytelling. We usually talk about what happened in the morning as we eat lunch, and then again in the evening when my husband comes home. I prompt the kids to talk about what happened, then rephrase in a fuller, correct form: ‘Yes, we put on our boots and went outside, then we jumped in the puddles. You got very muddy…’ This kind of talk reinforces any new words the little one may have learned, and helps my older son practice using the past tense and telling stories. And that’s how puddle jumping is super-educational! Enjoy!

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