An easy and versatile theme to use for December-January is a winter theme! A winter theme is relevant to many of your student’s experiences especially if they live in an area where the weather changes. For all you Florida SLPs, you can still use a winter theme to build background knowledge about other parts of the world that do have cold, snowy weather. This will help them when making inferences from texts, watching movies, or when they see commercials about winter. Today, I am going to share a round-up of some of my favorite winter-themed activities so that you can plan your sessions stress-free. If there is one thing I can recommend when implementing a themed-based approach, is to use a theme longer than a week! Check out this Real Talk SLP podcast episode where I share why it can help both you and the students on your caseload.
Winter-Themed Books for Speech Therapy
When I plan a themed unit that I want to adapt for my elementary caseload, I select books based on the age groups or interest levels. Listed below are some of my favorite winter-themed books to use in therapy (Amazon affiliate links included):
Prek-1st – The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, Just a Snowman by Mercer Mayer, and Tracks in the Snow by Wong Herbert Yee
2nd-3rd – The Mitten by Jan Brett, The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett, and Snow Day by Lester L. Laminack
4th-5th- Immi’s Gift by Karin Littlewood, Lemonade for Winter by Emily Jenkins, and The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
Videos for a Winter-Themed Unit
When it comes to using videos for your winter-themed unit, you will always find stuff on YouTube. This blog post has all the best winter-themed songs, book read alouds, wordless shorts, etc. to with your winter activities. Check it out HERE (There is a free Google Slides with all the videos organized for you.)
Two of my favorite types of videos to use during winter season are America’s Funniest Home Videos and Simon’s Cat. This blog post links a couple of the winter funniest home videos. All the best Simon’s Cat videos are organized on that free Google Slide!
Because so many of our kids watch YouTube, using videos in therapy is really motivating for them. Plus, there are lots of winter non-fiction type videos that you can use to teach vocabulary, grammar, main idea, and comprehension.
Winter Picture Scenes for Syntax and Vocabulary
If you need winter picture scenes for your speech therapy sessions, download this free printable! It also comes with winter scenes Boom Cards for a digital option. You can use these printables as a reinforcer, for syntax goals, describing winter activities and clothing or creating short stories.
Winter Themed Activities for Your Elementary Caseload
Join the Themed Therapy SLP membership if you need winter-themed speech and language materials for your Prek-5th grade caseload. Instead of hunting around the internet for hours planning your themed units, you can let the membership do the work for you! When you join, you get various printable materials, book cheat sheets, Google Slides, toy cheat sheets, lesson plan cheat sheets, speech sound word lists, and crafts! Check out the membership HERE.
Winter Sensory Bins for Speech
Winter sensory bins can be great to pair with a winter-themed book as an extension activity. You can make a bin that is like a story retell bin such as with the book, “The Mitten.” You can check out the sensory bin that goes with that book in this blog post.
The main things you need for a great winter sensory bin is a snow filler such as fake snow, white Pom Pom balls, cotton balls, salt, sugar, or shredded white paper (Amazon affiliate links included for your convenience.)
Add in vocabulary printables to play “Can you find it?” to work on inferencing and receptive categories. Fill your bins with winter figurines such as penguins, or woodland animals preparing for winter. Check out the winter sensory bins below that are in my TPT store. You can find the winter sensory bin companion HERE and the “Can you Find it?” with winter vocabulary in my push-in unit.
Winter Activities for Speech Therapy Small Groups and Whole Class
When it comes to planning themed units, you want to use activities that are versatile for your whole class lessons and your small groups. It can be a lot of work to plan, so that’s why I created themed push-in units for SLPs that cover a wide range of skills and activities that can be used in both settings. Plus, this resource has lesson plan ideas, a parent newsletter, book recommendations, and cheat sheets to help you plan more efficiently. Watch this IG Reel to see how engaging your sessions can go!
If you are wanting winter activities ready to go like winter vocabulary BINGO, winter vocabulary sentence bin, winter verb playdough mats, and easy to prep crafts, then check this resource out HERE.
When implementing a winter theme it is great to have real photos of activities that happen during the season. This provides a context with which to associate vocabulary words and experiences. When we teach our student’s word associations related to winter, it helps build a depth of knowledge with those words. You can find free pictures on Pixabay and Unsplash. Type in winter activities, snowball fights, skiing, etc. to find photos. Not only can you work on winter vocabulary, you can also target social inferencing and perspective-taking. Plus, you can also use the photos to make predictions and problem-solve situations. If you need 20 real photos ready with inferencing questions and visual supports, check out this winter pictures inference task cards.
Open-Ended Winter Activity Ideas
One easy way to keep mixed groups engaged is to have a fun winter game ready to use throughout the session or as an incentive for the last five minutes. Print up kids dressed in winter clothing and attach to binder clips, or photo holders. Bring in cotton balls and have students earn “snowballs” to try to knock down the kids. If you need pictures for this game, these are included in the winter-themed language lesson plan guides. For ideas on how to increase trials with speech sound disorders, this blog post has winter ideas!
What Types of Winter Activities Do You Love to Plan for Therapy?
What types of winter activities do you love to plan for your students? It’s always great to hear what other SLPs are doing to help support students’ language, especially when implementing a themed-based approach. Do you have a certain winter book you love to use? A favorite website that has winter vocabulary? Let me know in the comments if you find any cool winter materials or easy winter therapy ideas that you used year after year in the comments.