Keeping students engaged in activities is one of the most important factors in successful therapy. Anyone who works with older students knows that engagement can be extremely challenging. So, how can we keep our older students engaged? By using motivating material that is relevant and important to them. Themed therapy allows for just this. Themes can be curriculum related, seasonal, or related to preferred topics. For our older students, it’s helpful to weed out some of the themes they might already know about and the themes they may view as “baby-like.” I went through my list of themes and chose the top 10 themes older students will DIG in their speech therapy sessions. I’ve also included some simple ideas to get you started with themes for your older students.
Over 100 Themes to Give You Inspiration for Speech Therapy Planning
Trying to get organized with the themes you want to plan this school year, but need some inspiration? Download this Free SLP planner and idea guide for themed therapy. There are over 100 seasonal and nonseasonal themes to help give you ideas with what to plan for your speech therapy groups.
10 Themes Older Students Will LOVE
There are so many activities and targets regarding a food theme in our everyday lives! Make your activities full of hands-on learning. Find a recipe, gather ingredients, and make something delicious with your students. Kristine from Live Love Speech has some free recipes to use during speech sessions. If you’re looking for even more resources with planned, engaging lessons, check out the Themed Speech Therapy Membership which includes a food theme.
2. Video games
So many of my students love video games! I, on the other hand, do not know much about it. This becomes a perfect opportunity for your students to work on their sentence formation and narrative skills! If they’re working on speech sounds, have them explain the video game using their best speech. Look up articles on Wonderopolis or Newsela about video games. Here’s one video game related article that I’ve used!
Video games are also a great conversation topic for students-do they like video games, what’s their favorite, why is it their favorite, and more. As a group, they can try to make their own video game! They’ll need to use flexible thinking and follow a group plan to do so.
Themes Older Students Can Relate to in Speech Therapy
Use shoes and/or fashion trends as a theme. Talk about how shoes may change based on weather or season, where they buy their shoes and more. Learn about How Shoes are Made on Wonderopolis. You can also have students design their own shoes! Grab paper and coloring materials or use the Nike website to design them! Students can work on their own then describe their shoes to others, or they can work in pairs or groups! Plus, you can work on goals while learning the history of shoes.
There are so many different sports and so many different teams. This theme allows students to share about their favorite sport or learn about a new sport. They can work on vocabulary, sequencing, summarizing, and more! How many words with their speech sounds can they brainstorm that are involved in their favorite sport?
They can learn about the history of their sports, like basketball. Not to mention, sports are a great conversation topic! Who plays sports? What sports do they play or like? What’s their favorite team?
If you’re looking for even more resources with planned, engaging lessons, check out the Themed Speech Therapy Membership that includes a sports theme.
Speech Therapy Themes About Community and Culture
Plan activities where students can share about their own culture/ethnicity. This allows students to work on sentence formation, summarizing, and narrative skills. They can also learn about other cultures and therefore work on their comprehension skills! Like other topics, this allows for some awesome conversation in groups.
Connect this theme with the food theme! What food is popular in their culture?
For younger students, I’ll use “Community Helpers” as a theme. While this is helpful across all ages, older students may find it more interesting if you talk about all jobs and occupations. What do they want to be when they grow up? What jobs do they want to learn about? What do these jobs entail? Use different resources like YouTube to learn about different jobs. For example, learn about engineers by watching this video.
Nonseasonal Themes You Can Use Any Time of the School Year
7. Role Models/Celebrities
Everyone has someone they look up to! Who do your students look up to? Why? Is it someone they know, or someone famous? Have them talk or write about their role model. What are facts about this person and what are some of their opinions about this person?
In this theme, you could also talk about famous people-current day or historical. What made them famous? Have them write or record a quick biography about a famous person, then share it with the group. What questions would they ask each person?
As we grow up, we all have responsibilities-at home, at school, and eventually at work. What responsibilities do they have at home? At school? Use these responsibilities/chores to work on sequencing and summarizing. Ask them more opinion-based questions like why are responsibilities important? What’s the easiest or the worst chore?
Check out the Themed Speech Therapy Membership that includes a chores theme.
Incorporating Speech and Language Goals with Science and Music
9. STEM Activities
Multisensory learning is (in my opinion) the best kind of learning. Stem activities and science experiments are fun ways to use multisensory learning in sessions. Do experiments and learn how things work. During these hands-on activities, students can identify what materials they need, steps to take, make predictions and more. After, they can explain what happened and why it happened.
Finally, MUSIC! Tie in pop culture to your sessions. Use this as a conversation starter with your students. Do they like music? What are some of their favorite songs and/or artists?
Students can make their own music using Chrome Music Lab!
In addition, students can learn more about the singers they listen to every day. Look up lyrics to songs (if they’re appropriate). What do the lyrics mean? Can they find their sound in the lyrics? Can they find figurative language in the music? Some songs that are appropriate for students are: What Do I Know by Ed Sheeran, Can’t Stop The Feeling by Justin Timberlake, Roar by Katy Perry, Pompeii by Bastille, and My Universe by Coldplay and BTS.
Need More Themed Therapy Ideas for Your Speech Therapy Caseload?
If you loved these themed therapy ideas for your older students and want more inspiration, check out the 30 themes you can do for speech therapy. Don’t forget to grab your free-themed therapy SLP planner and idea guide to have a list of over 100 seasonal and nonseasonal themes to make planning for the school year easier.
When working with older students, it may feel challenging to keep students engaged but themes allow for targets that are relevant and engaging. There are so many different themes you can use with your older students. What are some of your favorites? Share with us in the comments what themes you use!