I want to write about a few things that can be done "on a dime." When you see "on a dime" as part of the title, you will know that it is something that can be done on a budget (I know, the b-word is a terrible thing, but definitely necessary in our house).
Let's talk about field trips. Field trips aren't just for school teachers. They don't necessarily need to require a permission slip. What I mean is TAKE YOUR KIDS ON FIELD TRIPS!?! Have you ever thought of that? I know that the zoo, aquarium, petting zoo, gardens, museums, etc get expensive. However, you don't have to limit yourself to those locations. You could pick one day a week to be "field trip day" (possibly field trip friday??) and pick places that your children have never/seldom been to or happen to love. Be creative. Here are a few ideas to start off: fire station(call ahead), police station (call ahead), farmer's market, park, river/lake/ocean, nature hike, fish market, or even as simple as... the grocery store (I can hear the groans through the computer). Here's the key - you want to hype it up and get the kids excited about what they could see or learn. Younger kids could talk about what they think they might see, older kids could draw a picture or write a story. While you are on your field trip, make it fun. You could create a "scavenger hunt" board (see activity on website), let them try to find at least one thing for each color of the rainbow, or play "i spy". The ideas could be endless. Once at home; have your child cut out pictures from magazines of what he/she saw, draw a picture, write a story, or tell you and you write it down. You could create an entire folder of their field trips and they will have a fantastic "show and tell" piece for when they start school again. Not to mention, they may be occupied for a little while and you can sit down for a minute or two. :o)
Now, if your child is in the "pre-talker" category, then these small experiences are a great way to talk about everything you see and give your child more vocabulary. Just because your child isn't talking, doesn't mean he's not listening and learning!
If your child is working on articulation goals, you can always have him/her search for their speech sound (see activity sheet) and write down what they find. This will give your child more practice mastering that sound!