6 Ways To Use Playdough in Speech Therapy
If you are a speech pathologist working with younger students, you probably have playdough in your room already! Playdough is a staple in my speech therapy room. My students love materials that they can touch and feel. I think this is why slime, kinetic sand, and playdough are fan favorites amongst kids.
Today, I wanted to share 6 ways you can use playdough in speech therapy. There are a lot of ways you can adapt playdough to make therapy engaging. Plus, you can use playdough to build many language skills.
First of all, playdough is excellent for play therapy because it is easy to cover many skills and follow the child’s lead. If you serve a wide variety of goals and struggle with remembering targets to use with playdough, grab the playdough cheat sheet in this toy companion resource. You won’t have brain fog during speech therapy sessions, and you will know what you will target with your students!
Where To Get Playdough For Your Speech Room
The easiest way to snag some playdough is on Amazon. I have this 24-can set (Amazon affiliate link) and love that I can re-use the cans if I decide to make homemade playdough. You can also get playdough from Lakeshore Learning that comes in bulk tubs. And if you have all the ingredients at home, you can make a LOT of playdough for an affordable price. I love adding in peppermint, lemon, or orange essential oils to make the playdough smell fun. There are so many easy playdough recipes that you can find on Pinterest. Here is one that I use often.
#1: Use Playdough in Speech Therapy For Behavior Management
Use playdough with a student’s “working for” chart. Each time the student exhibits a positive behavior, you can squish a playdough ball on the student’s “working for” chart. This will show when the student will earn his/her next reinforcer activity or item. This “working for” chart is part of my AAC Starter Kit.
I also like using playdough to help kids know when an activity will be over. It helps keep students engaged and working on the activity. Cover each item on the mat with playdough. When all the items are covered, the activity is completed.
You can also use a playdough mat reinforcer sheet with your whole group. As a group, the students can earn game time or free choice activity time.
#2: Use Playdough in Speech Therapy To Work On Sequencing & Answering Wh-Questions
You can make playdough with your students! Kristine Lamb from Live Love Speech has amazing visual recipes that you can use to support functional communication, vocabulary, and sequencing steps.
#3: Use Playdough in Speech Therapy For Teaching CORE Vocabulary
Playdough is great for our students that need to build those different CORE vocabulary functions! You can work on so many different functions of communication.
If you need a CORE board with fringe vocabulary to work on playdough, this one is part of my AAC Starter Kit in my TPT store. It saves me so much time and I always have visuals for my students to communicate with me. Plus, I have noticed an increase in functional communication and functions beyond just “requesting” items using these boards with students. You can try the bubbles fringe and CORE board HERE.
CORE words to target with playdough:
- Go/Stop for rolling, squishing, or pulling the playdough. You can also get some great initiation and joint attention if you wait for the student to ask for “Go/Stop.”
- More/Want to request wanting more playdough. Don’t just hand over the whole can of playdough to the student. Give them a little playdough at a time. They can request “more” and “want” to get more playdough.
- My Turn/Your Turn to work on sharing the playdough.
- See/Look to talk about what the other person/student is creating. For example, you can model or have students use their words with their CORE board or device, “I see_____.” or “Look at my _____!”.
What other CORE vocabulary would you target? Share in the comments.
#4: Use Playdough in Speech Therapy To Teach Basic Concepts and Following Directions
You can work on teaching basic concepts using playdough. Make mini playdough balls and gather items around your room. Have students follow directions with the playdough balls and items. For example, “Put the playdough in the cup,” or, “Put the playdough behind the bucket.”
You can also use playdough mats or picture scenes to work on basic concepts such as above, below, between, in front, next to, etc.
#5: Use Playdough As A Visual Support
Make a snail or snake to help demonstrate slow speech for a student working on fluency strategies.
A bunny can be used to show how our speech can get bouncy.
For articulation, you can have students form the sound he/she is working on, to help them remember to use the correct sound. I loved this idea from Natalie Snyders for teaching the R.
Playdough can also help with phonological awareness activities for inserting or deleting sounds, counting syllables in words, or identifying beginning, middle, and ending sounds in words.
Roll out different colored playdough balls to help build longer sentences. You can use blue for nouns, green for verbs, red for adjectives, and orange for prepositional phrases. Get these FREE playdough mats by click the image below.
#6: Use Playdough To Work on Pretend Play and Conversation
There are so many fun playdough sets that children can use to pretend. For example, I have the Playdoh Pie Set (Amazon affiliate) that you can use to work on conversation. Students can take each other’s orders, practice serving the pie to each other, and pretend to pay for the pie at a restaurant.
Another fun pretend play activity is to make chocolate playdough that actually smells like real chocolate! Here is the recipe I used. You can have students create little chocolates to put in a candy box. They can decorate their chocolates with small beads or plastic trinkets. Or they can make hot chocolate for each other! Make sure you check to see if the recipe is editable, so that your kids don’t try and eat it.
How do You Use Playdough in Speech Therapy?
Playdough is a material that has helped me keep therapy engaging and functional. I have seen so many students make progress with all sorts of speech and language skills with incorporating playdough into my speech therapy sessions. So, I always want to know MORE ways I can use playdough. Please share your best therapy ideas or tips in the comments or email me at fe*********@th*****************.com. Of course, you can always share a pic on Instagram and tag me @thedabblingspeechie.