When I started using themes to guide my lesson planning, I liked to consider the current seasons. Using a season as a theme is relatable to all of our students. This makes it easy to build in high-interest and highly relevant activities which can be used for multiple speech goals.
Summer is always a fun theme to use because it means a lot of fun indoor and outdoor play activities. This blog is all about great summer play themes you can use with your ESY students, private students, or even for some home carryover activities. Amazon affiliate links are provided in this blog post for your convenience. I earn a small commission when you purchase something with my link with no additional cost to you.
Pretend Play Themes for the Summer Season
During the summer season, your students may be going to the beach with their family and friends. The beach is the perfect place to incorporate play! You can easily target those semantic and vocabulary skills by categorizing any beach related words. Make lists of ocean animals, beach snacks, beach items, and ocean activities. Pretend to get ready to go to the beach and sequence the steps. This is a fun, functional way to work on those sequence words and verbs. You can even target language comprehension by giving your students directions on how to get ready for the beach with some basic concepts.
Providing guidance on how to make a sensory bin at the beach to your families is a great carry over activity to support your students’ generalization. Ask your families to simply bring a bin to the beach. They can fill it with sand, water, any shells they collect, or toys they bring along. Then prompt them to target that student’s language goals.
Tasty and Fun Summer Play Themes
S’mores, ice cream, and lemonade! Yum! These three themes are always super fun and engaging for my students because who doesn’t love ice cream and s’mores? You can develop your students’ pretend play skills by pretending you’re going to the ice cream shop, camping, or selling lemonade at a stand.
Plus, you can work on so many social communication skills while you are eating your summer treats. Specifically, you can work on initiating requests for ingredients and flavors, make comments on what you like and don’t like, and work on turn taking/cooperative play.
For ideas on how to use an ice cream toy set, head to this blog post! It’s full of ideas on how to incorporate an ice cream toy set into speech therapy. Using cloud dough or play dough is also a good for ice cream related pretend play.
There are tons of ways to use a camping and s’mores play themes into speech therapy. If you’re not sure how to get started check out my previous blog post all about camping speech therapy activities.
Lemonade Theme Therapy Ideas
More Ways to Use Play Food in Speech Therapy
Have a summer picnic with your student and work on categorizing food by fruits, snacks, and entrees. Additionally, you can use a basket work on basic concepts like in/out, in front/behind, over, under. You can also incorporate those social skills I mentioned earlier.
Pretend to visit a farmers market with your students. Talk about the produce you would see and what you would need to bring with you. Once you are done, talk about the produce that you saw and bought to work on vocabulary and verb tensing.
If you need more play food ideas for preschool speech therapy, head to this blog post.
Summer Play Theme Sensory Bins
Use a garden or car wash theme to make sensory bins to target your students goals. Fill a bin with water, soap, and cars or trucks of different sizes and colors. List the attributes or the cars and work on basic concepts as the cars and trucks go in and out of the car wash.
You can also fill a bin with some soil, grass, and seeds. Have your student push the seeds and look for small bugs and critters! There are a lot of bug hunt toy sets that can be incorporates into this sensory bin.
Summer Garden Therapy Ideas
Use fake flowers and other gardening supplies to create a pretend play theme of a flower shop or planting a garden. This can be a great opportunity to talk about the vocabulary and social communication of growing flowers and buying flowers for others. Buying flowers can teach the concept of giving, showing love with gifts as well as the verbs and vocabulary for making a flower bouquet. This is also a time to practice emotion words with your students! How would someone feel if you gave them flowers? How would someone feel if you didn’t give them flowers?
For more ideas on how to use flowers as a theme in speech therapy, head to this blog post.
More Summer Play Themes
Here are some more summer theme ideas to use for pretend play. You can target all of the previously mentioned therapy goals using these themes:
- Going Fishing
- Zoo trip
- Traveling or planning for a road trip
- Going to a sandwich shop
If you’re interested in more seasonal themes, check out my spring play themes blog post.
I would also recommend reading this previous post for more information on play based speech therapy!
Need Tips for Implementing Play Themes?
When I first began incorporating play based activities into my therapy, I felt very overwhelmed. I quickly began to run out of ideas on how to incorporate my students’ goals in play without being repetitive or burnt out. I have found that when I have cheat sheets handy in my sessions, I spend less time thinking of targets and more time meaningfully interacting with my students. If you want to save more brain energy AND feel prepared for play therapy without hours of planning, then grab these toy companion cheat sheets for speech and language therapy. Included are cheat sheet guides for over 25 toys!
What Summer Pretend Play Activities Do You Use With Your Students?
I always love to hear what other SLP’s are doing with their student. Have any summer themed activities you’ve tried and loved with your students? Let me know in the comments!