Painting Pinecones Language Therapy


So I don’t know the weather where you guys live, but where I live the forecast is snow, then cold, then rain, then snow again.

While I am more than happy to bundle up my kids and send them outside to play in said snow, the reality is we spend 30 minutes getting all their winter clothes on and about 20 minutes actually outside in the snow.

That means we need to find things to do inside. Because even though I don’t think TV is wholly evil and brain-draining, I don’t want my children watching it for hours on end.

A few weeks ago, pre-snow, the kids and I (asked) and gathered pinecones from a neighbor. We washed and dried them, and I displayed them in a funky vintage bowl I have with a pumpkin candle in the middle.

(In the immortal words of A Goofy Movie: saaaaaaaaaaaa-wanky).

But as Thanksgiving passed and the snow started to fall, I decided it would be fun to bleach the pinecones and let my kids paint them with glitter paint.

It would also justify my buying a cinnamon-y holiday candle. A big one.

As my kids and I were cleaning up, I thought of three ways you can utilize this activity to not only have fun inside on a cold day, but also sneak in some language therapy.

Now a few words to the wise: pinecones do not bleach quickly. I don’t recommend doing it. Also, unless you absolutely drench the pinecones in glitter paint, it is a subtle effect (as you can see in the top photo). If you want more wow factor, I would spray paint them white before painting them.

So, without further ado, here are my three language activities for use with Painting Pinecones:

A “P” Party

Just, for heaven’s sake, don’t call it that in front of your kids.

  • As you are setting up and gathering your supplies, emphasize the “P” sound. The Paint, the Pinecones, the Paintbrushes, the Paper (to Protect your table).
  • Have your kid(s) repeat the sound. You can put it to a little tune and say “P makes the ‘P’ sound.” You could also put it to the tune of Mary Had A Little Lamb-¬†” The letter P says Puh-Puh-Puh…”
  • As you are painting, brainstorm with your kids about other words that start with “P.”
  • Once you are done painting the pinecones, give your child a crayon and have them look for the letter “P” in the sale ads you used to protect your table.
  • If your kid(s) are old enough, have them write the letter “P” on the sale ads. If they are very young, write a letter “P” with a highlighter and have them trace it.

Following Directions

Part of language development is learning how to follow directions. If your child(ren) are younger, give them opportunities to follow one-and two-step directions. These include:

  • Washing the pinecones (put the water in, add the soap/vinegar, add the pinecones, rinse them, etc.)
  • Setting up the art table (laying down sale ads, putting glitter paint on a plate, etc.)
  • Cleaning up (set pinecones out to dry, wash out the paintbrushes, throw away the sale ads)

If your child(ren) are older, talk about what might happen if you did the steps out of order. For instance, what if you painted the pinecones before laying down the paper? Or just put vinegar in the sink with no water?  This helps teach them to think about sequencing, which is moving towards high-level, abstract language skills.


No matter where your child’s abilities fall, all kids need sensory exposure as well as the language to go along with it. This activity lends itself to a lot of sensory experiences and opportunities to teach your child sensory words.

  • Gathering the pinecones- words like bumpy, rough, fat, or sticky (if there’s pitch on them).
  • Washing the pinecones- words like cold and wet. Also, as the pitch comes off, the water color will change- so sneak in color word like clear, blue, and brown.
  • Painting the pinecones- if you’re brave, let your child paint them with their fingers. Practice words like sparkly, squishy, bright, etc.

Part of sensory language is being able to compare and contrast things. Don’t forget to talk about the opposites of the above words. For instance, you can compare the fat, round pinecones to the thin, long pine needles.

Well I hope this gives you a fun idea for ways to incorporate language activities into your child’s (cold) day. I would love to hear more ideas from you guys!

Author: Miss Haley

My name is Haley, and I am a wife, mother, and speech therapist. I want to teach parents simple yet effective speech therapy principles and strategies to improve language at home.

Speak your mind, but please be kind!