Real Life Language, Idea No. 1 – Picking Blackberries

Blackberry Pie

Here’s the first post in a new series, Real Life Language Ideas. Therapy targets need to be worked on frequently between therapy sessions, this is easiest for the family and most functional for the child, if it can be incorporated into activities they do anyway. In this series, each post will explain how a child can practise various language and speech skills during a particular activity. First up: blackberry picking!

My 3 year old inspired this post, he loves picking blackberries. It’s an activity we can do as a family (the baby is more of an eater, than a picker) and fits with my intentions for the year of moving more and getting outside. Locals in our new home town have been keen to direct us to the best bushes, I encourage you to go forth and get picking!

Here’s some ideas for how you can support your child’s speech or language development at the same time as having fun as a family.

Waiting for face watching

This is more a practise area for the adult! As part of parent child interaction therapy I often work with adults on waiting for their child to indicate he or she is ready to hear language, by waiting for the child to watch the adult’s face. So get down to your child’s level at the blackberry bushes and wait for them to look at you, no picking, tasting or talking until your child watches your face.


Working on verbs in therapy? You could model, emphasise, and then repeat, repeat, repeat: picking, eating, tasting, squashing, pulling, throwing.

If your child is practising concepts, you can incorporate those too. Use different size pots, to practise size concepts, or talk about:

  • empty and full
  • high and low
  • tasty and disgusting
  • healthy and ill (my 3 yr old and I discuss this a lot, in relation to how many we eat whilst picking!)


Model relevant questions for your child and give them plenty of time to practise asking you back.

  • “Who should pick this blackberry?”
  • “Where shall we look for more blackberries?”
  • “How many shall I pick?”
  • “Can I taste one?”

Sequencing and Narratives

Today we came home and my son helped his dad make a pie with our blackberries. Cooking is a great opportunity for practising: first, next, and last.

Speech sounds

If your child is working at single sound level, you could ask them to say the target sound 3 times each time they pick a berry, eat a berry, put one in the pot, or spot a juicy one. Do the same with vowel consonant, or consonant vowel combinations. If your child is working at word level, try and find a word or two that work for blackberry picking, for example: for /k/ in word final position: you could work on ‘pick’ or ‘sick’.

Let me know if you go out picking, or think of other targets that lend themselves to blackberry picking! And now for more pie pictures.

Cooking 1 IMG_0880