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The Smithsonian Holiday Festival

December 5-6, 10am-5:30pm, see times for specific events below

Smithsonian's annual holiday festival kicks off the holiday season on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. with a weekend of events at ten Smithsonian museums! As you explore the dozens of exciting events and exhibits, slip some speech and language practice into your day with the ideas in the guide below.


EXPLORE: Expressive Language
ENRICH: Verbalizing Predictions

ENGAGE: The ability to express a prediction about an unfamiliar item


Stop by the Main Store in the National Air and Space Museum any time from 10-3 on Saturday and Sunday for a unique experience - sampling space food!



  • Before you taste the space food, tell your child to predict what he/she thinks the food will be like. What will it smell like? What will it taste like? What will the texture be? 

  • Have your child express his/her predictions using the sentence starter, "I predict the food will . . ."

  • After your child has tasted the food, ask him/her to use complete sentences to tell you if his/her prediction was correct. For example, "I was right! The space ice cream was crunchy," or "I thought the ice cream would smell sweet, but it didn't have a smell."



EXPLORE: Oral Comprehension
ENRICH: Understanding Verbal Directions

ENGAGE: The ability to understand and follow directions


Your next stop in the Air an Space Museum - the Space Race Gallery. From 10-3 on Saturday, your child can make a biplane or comet ornament to decorate your tree or house for the holidays.



  • You can use this craft activity to work on careful listening and following direction skills with your child. Ask a museum staff member to tell your child the directions for making his/her ornament.

  • Next, ask your child to restate the directions. If he/she has trouble remembering them, you can give visual prompts by pointing to the materials needed fo each step.

  • Finally, have your child follow the directions step by step. Continue to give visual prompts if your child needs them to support his/her memory.



EXPLORE: Phonological Skills
ENRICH: Appropriate Speech Patterns

ENGAGE: The ability to produce medial and final consonant blends


Visit the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery's ImaginAsia Classroom to create another fun craft - a fan inspired by Japanese artist Sotatsu's wave art.



  • An important phonological skill that affects speech clarity is the ability to pronounce consonant blends - a group of two (or three) consonants. Consonant blends in the middle and end of words are often more difficult than those at the beginning.

  • While you create your fan, use Sotatsu's name as a starting point for practicing medial and final blends: sotaTSu. Have your child say the word slowly 5 times, then use it in a sentence. For example, "I'm making a SotaTSu fan."

    • If your child has trouble pronouncing the blend, segment the word and have him/her repeat: so-tat-su.

  • Then, have your child create sentences with these other words related to the fan craft: faNS (ends with a /nz/ blend), waVES (ends with a /vz/ blend), artiST, priNT, sacKLer.

  • Remind your child to say the words slowly and include both consonants in the blend sound.

EXPLORE: Pragmatic Skills
ENRICH: Polite Social Language

ENGAGE: The ability to express appreciation and thanks



On Saturday from 10-5:30 in the 3 East wing, the American History Museum will be holding "Operation Gratitude," a letter-writing and card-making activity supporting the American troops.



  • Expressing gratitude is a higher level social skill that is important for maintaining positive relationships with others. This activity is the perfect opportunity to orally rehearse expressions of gratitude before putting them in writing in a letter or a card.

  • Ask your if he/she knows what soldiers do to help make the world a better place. If he/she can't think of anything, have a discussion about the job of a soldier to brainstorm ideas. For example, "soldiers keep the citizens of a country safe."

  • Have your child use a complete sentence to express gratitude to a soldier: "Thank you for ______."


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