Squirrels are hilarious little creatures that I like to enjoy from afar. And by afar, I mean, enjoying on google photos, watching them on YouTube videos or in cute cartoons. Cause in real life if you touch a squirrel you might get rabies. Today, I am going to show you lots of ways squirrels can be used in many of your therapy groups!
How To Adapt A Squirrel Theme For Lots Of Ages & Areas
When I pick a theme for therapy, I try to utilize that theme across a lot of ages and treatment areas. Planning therapy is easier for me when I use a theme. And I find that I can teach the content better when I use one theme because I more knowledgeable about the subject. Plus, even though the theme may be similar, each group may have a slightly different activity, which makes my therapy feel novel and FUN for me, the therapist. We have to be engaged with the content too! Once I select theme, I then look at the goals of my students. After that, I find books, YouTube videos, easy crafts or I create materials that match that theme. If I need to, I will make little cheat sheets of different vocabulary, articulation words, wh-questions, etc. that I can use in my groups.
Squirrel Books For Speech Therapy
You can target lots of different skills with using a book. A book is a great low prep resource because you can use the illustrations as well as the story to target a lot of different goals during extension lessons after reading the book. Here are some fun books that have a squirrel theme (amazon affiliate links included):
If I don’t have a certain book or didn’t have time to purchase or check out from the library, I will utilize YouTube for book read alouds like the one below.
Skills That You Can Target With Books
– Have students use words from the book that have their articulation sound in words, phrases, and sentences. For carryover, have them retell the story or make a new ending to the book using their best speech.
-Use the verbs from the story to target past, present, and future tense. Build more complex sentences with verbs and nouns from the book.
-Students can practice answering wh-questions about the book and illustrations.
-Target oral narration using the story.
-Describe the characters and nouns in the book by attributes. Find words from the story that have antonyms/synonyms and any tier II words to teach.
We have been using my FREE s-blend activity to work on our speech sounds! This activity also has acorns with just numbers, so you can target any speech sounds.
I made a little crazy squirrel bean bag toss game. We practiced our sounds in words and sentences! If they landed on the 20 point squirrel, they got 20 points added to their score and had to say their sound 20 times. Grab the game by clicking on the photo above or HERE!
I googled squirrel articles and found lots of reading materials, which was perfect for all my students working on carrying over their /r/ sound into reading and conversational contexts. We read the articles and then discussed the squirrel facts using our great speech! Great way to progress monitor.
Squirrel Speech Therapy Ideas For Targeting Language
We have been playing the Educational Insights The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game (amazon affiliate link) in therapy with my I’m a Nut Language cards. It has made therapy so easy to plan because I can grab n’ go! We worked on using verbs in sentences, describing by attributes, multiple meaning words, and categories!
For those of you SLPs that are going into the classroom for whole class language lessons, I have been creating push-in language lesson plan guides to help SLPs feel less overwhelmed about running a classroom lesson. What’s really cool is that most of the lesson activities can also be used in your small groups too. Each themed lesson comes with Google Slide presentations, a letter home to parents, recommendations for books, links to YouTube read alouds and movement breaks. There are 3-5 language extension activities that can be run as a whole class or in small stations. It also includes cheat sheet guides for teachers and classroom aids, so that they can run stations! Here students are working on sorting categories into the correct squirrel tree and doing squirrel preposition Simon Says. When you can take the overwhelm out of planning the activities, you can really focus on how helping the kids. If you need language activities that can be used in the classroom, check out this resource HERE.
Using Squirrel Videos In Speech Therapy
YouTube is a great source for videos to teach skills. They are free and easy to prep! You can make a quick cheat sheet with all the goals you are targeting when using these videos. I will share some ideas on how I use these videos in therapy.
Scishowkids has a lot of great non-fiction videos for kids. This one is perfect for teaching the verb “dig”, answering wh-questions and working on main idea. Watch the video before doing therapy and write down tier II vocabulary words you can review during and after the video.
Squirrels are pretty silly creatures. I went on YouTube and found some cute squirrel videos that I used to entice my students to want to talk about squirrels! All my kids including my 4/5th graders were laughing and engaged when I showed them these funny videos.
I let them watch part of the video clips as a way for them to observe what squirrels look like, things that they do and places they hang out. Then, we used this Sentence Frame Graphic Organizer (FREE download) to describe and discuss squirrels.
I also used these videos to have students make more complex sentences with adjectives, prepositional phrases and conjunctions. I would let them watch a little clip, pause it, then see who could come up with the best sentence! If you have students working on /s/, /r/ or /l/ this is the perfect carryover lesson! Loves of vocabulary is being targeted as well.
Simon’s Cat Squirrel Video
Work on sequencing, creating grammatically correct sentences, make social inferences and predictions.
I love that this video is only a minute long! If we are working on social inferencing, I will watch a small portion and then pause the video to discuss what might happen next or what the cat/squirrel could be thinking.
If I am using this video to target sequencing and grammatically correct sentences, I will let the students watch the whole video first. Then, we go back and watch the video while filling out the Sentence Frame Graphic Organizer. Or I will have them take a piece of paper and make four boxes. We will draw a picture of what happened first, next, then, and last. After the students are finished with their pictures, we work on sequencing the event.
Resources For My Upper Elementary Students Using Squirrels
For my 4th and 5th graders working on fluency enhancing strategies and language comprehension, we used articles to practice strategies in reading and answering comprehension questions. I worked on taking “key detail” notes as well as visualizing strategies for remembering information.
Grab this National geographic printable about squirrels to work on language comprehension as well as this squirrel article from National Geographic! The second article has fun, cute pictures of squirrels that we used to make compound and complex sentences about each photo.
This fly squirrel youtube video is pretty cool to watch! It is perfect to work on remembering details, explaining the main idea and answering questions about a non-fiction video. Plus, it is great to watch and then use the Sentence Frame Graphic Organizer (FREE download) to describe flying squirrels!
Perspective Taking & Social Skills Using Squirrel Videos
With my social skill group, we talked a lot about what the squirrels could be thinking and feeling. It was fun trying to come up with funny expressions that the squirrels were thinking or feeling! We also talked about expected vs. unexpected behaviors for how to treat and interact with squirrels when you see them outside. Do you need to work on inferencing and predicting skills? Have your students make predictions about what might happen next in the video. Pause the video mid-clip and discuss what actions the squirrel may do and why.
This was my most favorite squirrel video!! It was perfect for “what’s in their thought bubble?” and figuring out what zone the squirrel or people (in the background) are in. So, what resources and materials do you use with squirrels? I would love to add more fun to my crazy squirrel stash of therapy materials!
For your younger students, you can use squirrels to talk about what to do when they are feeling squirrely! You can watch some of these videos and then talk about how their body moves. Many squirrels move quickly, nibble their food quickly and dart all over the place.
Squirrel Crafts For Speech Therapy
I like to do crafts with my students about 1-2x a month in speech. Sometimes I will do crafts more often during my push-in speech and language lessons if they are simple to prep. They do increase engagement and are a functional way to see how speech and language skills are generalizing in more natural contexts.
My Fall craftivity with this crazy squirrel can make therapy planning easy for those mixed groups. You can have all your students do the same craft, but customize the stimulus items sheet based on your students goals. There are articulation and language targets, so you can cover a lot of goals. Check out the craftivity HERE.
You can print up a squirrel and have students glue tissue paper on the squirrel. The students can work on functional communication for requesting and commenting as well as the basic concept “on”. Make easy squirrel popsicle stick puppets. After the puppets are created, you can use them to work on prepositions. Have one student give directions for where the person has to put the puppet. This also targets following a group plan! With the puppets, students can create a story or building sentences with different verbs. For example, they can hold the squirrel puppet and say, “Yesterday, my squirrel jumped on the tree branch.”
For social skills, they can work on turn taking and waiting. Only put out one box of crayons. Students have to practice asking if they can borrow a crayon and waiting for a turn. This helps students initiate and work on using another person’s name to signal that they want to talk to someone. If you need these crafts, you can access them in my squirrel themed push-in language lesson plan guide.