What is Theme Smashing? – How to Plan Speech Therapy Themes by Month

What is Theme Smashing? – How to Plan Speech Therapy Themes by Month

When we plan themed therapy lessons for our speech therapy caseloads we want them to help students make progress on their goals. In this episode of the Real Talk SLP podcast, we are going to be talking about how to play speech therapy themes by month and learning how you can theme smash two themes together! I will be sharing what theme smashing is, how to do it, and ways to think through the themes you are choosing throughout the year. 

Why It’s Important To Use a Theme for 2-4 Weeks

Get a free themed monthly calendar for planning your speech therapy lessons and learn what theme smashing is!

Before we chat about what theme smashing is, I encourage you to use a theme for longer than a week. At the beginning of this podcast episode, I share two of the benefits of planning only one or two speech therapy themes in a month. 

Free Themed Speech Therapy Planner

Trying to pick a theme for your speech therapy caseload can be overwhelming. When you have lots of paperwork and caseload management tasks, picking a theme can be the last thing on your list. That’s why I created a giant list of 100 seasonal and nonseasonal themes you can use to get inspiration for speech therapy lesson planning. Use the free speech therapy themes by month calendar to get organized with what to plan!

We discussed having templates for speech therapy reports is so helpful with saving time! Oftentimes, SLPs create a library of templates for assessment batteries and different portions of the report, which can take TONS of time to do. Or, we pull up a previous report and use that as a template, which leaves room for errors with having the wrong name, dates, or pronouns in the report.

What is Theme Smashing?

Get a free themed speech therapy planner and learn about theme smashing!

Theme smashing is when you work on two themes at the same time and infuse them into your themed unit.

You can bring in concepts from your last theme into the new theme to increase opportunities with background knowledge, vocabulary, and concepts from that theme.

Here are some examples of theme smashing options:

During this episode I break down how you can plan out these themed unit back to back to provide more opportunities with concepts from the previous theme. In the March and April months of the Themed Therapy SLP membership, we have options for baking, weather, insects, spring, community helpers and chores making theme smashing easier!

Links to Resources and Blog Posts Mentioned About Themed Speech Therapy

If you are just getting started with planning themed therapy or have been doing it for a while now, but need fresh ideas, take my free Themed Therapy SLP quiz! It will send you LOTS of blog posts and ideas for whatever stage you are in currently.

Here are some resources mentioned in the podcast episode:

If you have any questions about planning by themes or need ideas, feel free to reach out on social media @thedabblingspeechie

Learn tips for how to plan speech therapy themes by month and get a free SLP planner.

What is Theme Smashing? - How to Plan Speech Therapy Themes by Month Ep 111

by The Dabbling Speechie

10+ Engaging March Speech Therapy Themes With Free SLP Planner

10+ Engaging March Speech Therapy Themes With Free SLP Planner

While many will watch March Madness on TV this month, our therapy rooms may also start to feel like madness. Between IEP meetings, evaluations, treatment sessions, and more, the mayhem never ends. As always, themed therapy is here to help relieve some of this stress. I’ve rounded up all the March speech therapy themes for you! In the blog post, I share themes relevant to the time of the year and national holidays.

This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links for your convenience. I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. 

One Thing to Remember with Theme-Based Therapy

Get ideas for March speech therapy activities you can use with your preschool and elementary caseload.

As SLPs with high caseloads, remember that you DON’T have to use a theme for only one week. Planning can be time-consuming when you constantly prepare for a new themed unit each week. You will lead yourself to burn out FAST switching materials each. We want to stay energized from lesson planning, so when you pick a theme, use the mindset that you will use this theme for 2-4 weeks of therapy. I talk all about that on the Real Talk SLP podcast episode 45. 

Check out the Themed Therapy SLP membership if you love using themes for your speech therapy caseload but struggle to find the time and energy to plan your lessons. The membership is for busy school-based SLPs who serve Prek-5th grade students and want to streamline their therapy planning process.

When you become an SLP themester, you can access three themed therapy units a month!

The March speech therapy themes include fairytales, weather and frogs. An annual membership gives you access to 36 themes, including penguins, baking, space, and arctic animals, to name a few!

Get themed therapy activities for frogs, weather and fairytales for speech therapy

SLP Themed Planner for the Year

Use my free-themed therapy yearly SLP planner to help you plan what themes you want to use for the year. It gives ideas for what to prepare and has an editable lesson plan template to keep notes on what you did with a theme. When you have notes for your themed units, it will jog your memory when you pull out your March speech therapy activities the following year. 

March Speech Therapy Themes on National Holidays

Get 10+ March themes for your speech therapy caseload!

March is full of national holidays- some super popular and others that are new to me! Here are some ideas:

  • March 14th: National Pi Day- Talk about math and pies with your students. 
  • March 17th: St. Patrick’s Day speech therapy is always so much fun!  You can always try a green theme, too!
  • March 19th: The first day of Spring– A new season always brings new vocabulary and topics to address with students. 
  • March is National Women’s History Month- Use books or articles from Wonderopolis or Readworks to learn about famous women. 
  • March is also National Reading Month- Use March speech therapy books to celebrate this!


Weather Themes To Do In the Month of March

With a new season comes new weather patterns to learn about with our students. As I mentioned before, this is one of the themes included in the Themed Therapy Membership. Here are some weather-based speech therapy themes:

Get ideas for planning a weather theme in the month of March for your speech therapy caseload.

Animal Speech Therapy Themes for March

Get 10+ March themes for speech therapy activities
  • Frogs: Talk about the life cycle of frogs, complete a frog craft and use 5 Green & Speckled Frogs with your little ones. This is also one of my March speech therapy themes included in the membership!
  • Bear theme: For those living in cooler places, bears emerge from hibernation in March. 
  • Zoo: The zoo speech therapy is always fun and filled with endless ideas with books, crafts, songs, games and play. 


More March Themes for Speech Therapy Lesson Planning

There are so many meaningful and fun national holidays that would make for great themes to plan in March! Here are some other alternative themes you can plan if you don’t want to rock St. Patrick’s day or rainbows all month.

  • Use a sensory bin during your sessions. I wrote about rainbow and St. Patrick’s Day sensory bins in my  March Sensory Bin Ideas post. 
  • Basketball: Use articles from Wonderopolis to learn about the inventor of basketball and March Madness. Grab a door basketball hoop and play with your students or play trash can basketball.  
  • Fairytales: The Themed Therapy SLP Membership includes this as a March speech therapy theme. There are books and ideas for all ages with this theme such as The Three Little Pigs, Princess and the Pea, and Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters
  • Nutrition: Use play food and learn about balanced meals. Talk about sizes, colors, and more about food. The ultimate theme smash would be using Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs to talk about food and weather.
  • Fitness/Movement: Get moving with Fabio’s Meatball Run or other action-packed videos.  
  • Sound Science: Use this free lesson plan to help prep you for your session or whole class lessons.
  • Here are 10 themes for older students that you can use any time of the year.
Get 10+ March themes to use with your preschool and elementary speech therapy caseload.

What theme-based units do you plan in March?

Get ideas for planning themed speech therapy units for the month of March!

Let me know in the comments what theme-based speech therapy lessons you plan for your elementary caseload. Tag me @themedtherapyslp with your themed activity, and I will share it in my stories!

Fun & Engaging SH Sound Speech Therapy Activities

Fun & Engaging SH Sound Speech Therapy Activities

I recently had a third grade group in which all of my students were working on the /sh/ sound. At first, I was relieved to plan a session all around one sound. When I looked closer, I realized my students were all at different “stages” in working on the sh sound. It was one of their first sessions working on the sh sound, another was working on it in the middle of words and the third was working on it in sentences. This is our job as SLPs, but it made me really brainstorm some ideas so that all of my students felt successful, challenged and most importantly, motivated. Here is my list of SH sound speech therapy activities from elicitation to conversation. 


This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links for your convenience. I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

SH Sound Speech Therapy Resources for Elicitation

First off, we need to elicit the SH sound all by itself. Here are some helpful resources for teaching the sh sound in speech therapy. 

Learn resources to help you produce the SH sound in speech therapy

SH Syllable and Word Speech Therapy Activities

Get this free SH sound syllable printable for speech therapy

Once I’ve elicited the sound in isolation, I’ll start working on the /sh/ sound in syllables and words. As all SLPs know, we continuously have to push our students to the next level so they’re making progress all while feeling successful and challenged. (Quite the balancing act)


    Word Lists and Word Level Activities

        Have SH word lists for your speech therapy sessions with these no print articulation activity flipbooks

        Sound Loaded SH Phrases & Sentence Ideas

        Get ideas for working on SH in your articulation speech therapy sessions.

        Now that your student has SH in words, get working on the sound in phrases and sentences!

        • Make sound-loaded phrases with your students on paper that you can practice in the session and then take home for the weekly homework. For example, you can use the phrase “Let me show you the ____.” Then, students think of different words. They don’t have to have an /sh/ because the word your student will be working on is “show.” When using mixed groups, give them a category group to name items. Here are some more examples for sound loaded phrases:
          • “She has a ___.”
          • “I want to share the ___.”
          • “We need to wash the ___.”
          • “Add ___ to the shopping list.”

          Sentence Level Articulation Ideas for the SH Sound

          • If you do a theme-based approach, you can do this activity but use the theme’s vocabulary. See this IG for more details
          • Compare and contrast similar nouns that contain the sh sound. For example, goldfish and shark,  or shovel and brush would be great SH words to compare. If you need pre-selected compare-and-contrast flashcards, check out the SH, CH, J articulation carryover set
          • Have your students create tongue twisters with your word lists that they can practice. You can even have them illustrate  tongue twister to make a fun speech sound book. For example, you could use “Shelly shared shells at the shore” or “She shouldn’t wash dishes with a shovel.” ChatGPT would be a great way to get more SH tongue twisters quickly!
          • You can make alliteration SH poems and then students can draw their poem.
          • Play guessing games for secret words that only have the SH sound. Add in carrier phrases for people to use, like “You surely won’t guess this word! It is especially tricky,” or “You sure are correct,” or “You should guess again.”
          SH sound sentence level activities for articulation therapy.

          Speech Therapy Crafts for the SH Sound

          SH words for speech therapy using easy articulation crafts.

          During your students’ journey up the ladder, it’s always fun to incorporate crafts so your students can decorate a bulletin board in your room or bring home a piece of work to share with their caregivers. Here are some craft ideas:


          • Make speech sound wallets that they can store in their speech folders or use to practice at home. 
          • I love doing crafts with my students but I prefer something that’s quick and easy to prep. The paper plate challenge craft is just this for a SH sound speech therapy craft.
          • Make some milkshake craft or a shape craft to use for practicing the SH sound.
          • Have students decorate their own shirt, shorts, or shoes! Sketch the shape of their clothing item on paper, cut it out, and have them decorate. They can decorate with /sh/ words or more craft materials (stickers, bingo daubers, crayons, etc). 

          Articulation Games with the SH Sound

          Most of our speech students are always asking to play a game when they come to speech. There are plenty of options for /sh/ sound games.

          • There are so many games with natural opportunities for SH sound to help keep kids motivated. 
          • Play Pinball on Toy Theater and practice words like “Push,” “Shoot,” and “Shake.”
          • On ABCYa, make a face and practice words or phrases like “She has…,” “Should I give the face…”

          Count fish in ABCYa’s Counting Fish game or dash through a dungeon in ABCYa’s Dungeon Dash (there are also versions with numbers, shapes and colors!). 

          SH articulation games that will help you get high trials.

          Where to Find SH Sound Loaded Stories

          Get ideas for SH sound loaded articulation stories and reading passages for carryover.

          If your student is a reader, incorporate SH sound-loaded reading passages into your therapy sessions. 

          SH Sound Conversation Activities

          Once your student has shown consistent success for /sh/ in sentences (and reading or retell), time to focus on generalization of the sound in conversation. While having a conversation can seem like the most straightforward task, ensuring that your student uses /sh/ sounds in the speech therapy conversation activities can feel tricky. Here are some ideas:

          • I linked this before, but make sure to check out my SH Sound conversation activities for some low-prep ideas. 
          • Find more sound-loaded non-fiction articles to read aloud. Discuss them afterward with your students. How much can they retell you? (There are non-fiction passages in the SH carryover activities.)
          • Make sound loaded questions, or would you rather games
            • Make a game like “What should I do?” and make up silly scenarios that students have to explain what you “should” or “shouldn’t” do.
            • Have students read the directions of a game, or read the cards while playing a game like Bubble Talk.
            • Create a list of words that start with the SH sound (shopping, shark, dishes, washing, brush, flush) then have students make silly sentences or create a story trying to get the sound-loaded words in the story.
          Help your student's graduate with SH articulation carryover activities

          What Articulation Activities Do You Love to Plan for SH?

          While we generally follow the same sequence of steps with sounds, it can be tricky to think of activities for each sound and each step. I hope these ideas help keep your students motivated and/or help you think of some more speech therapy SH sound activities. What else is in your SH sound toolkit? SHare with us on social media!

          Tips for Using YouTube Videos in Speech Therapy Ep 110

          Tips for Using YouTube Videos in Speech Therapy Ep 110

          Using YouTube videos in your speech therapy sessions can be a great way to increase engagement and help you plan quick, effective lessons. Because YouTube is one of my go-to speech therapy material resources, I like to find tools and tech tips to make finding and organizing my videos easier. Today in this Real Talk SLP podcast, I am sharing my top tips for using YouTube videos in speech therapy to help save you time and stress for using them in sessions.

          Free Winter and Spring YouTube Video Google Slides

          One of the best ways you can save time looking for themed YouTube videos is downloading the list I compiled for free! Storing your favorite winter and spring YouTube videos on Google Slides can help you stay organized for your teletherapy or in-person sessions.

          Learn tech tips for using YouTube videos in speech therapy.

          Themed Therapy SLP Membership Finds the YouTube Videos for You

          Get the best tips for using YouTube videos for speech therapy

          If you struggle with wanting to use YouTube videos because it takes SO much time trying to find videos that match the themed unit you are planning, you don’t have to waste any more time. In the Themed Therapy SLP membership, we provide Google Slides for Prek-1st, 2nd-3rd, and 4th-5th with links to YouTube videos for book read-alouds, songs, movement breaks, wordless shorts, science videos, and more! They are all organized like free spring and winter YouTube videos.

          Tech Tips for SLPs On How To Use YouTube Videos

          In this episode of the Real Talk SLP podcast we share these top tech tips:

          • Use tools such as safeshare.tv or viewpure to block unwanted ads, comments, and suggested videos when showing YouTube videos to kids.
          • On the YouTube video you can create a clip of the video right from YouTube. You can also clip videos using Google Slides. When you embed a YouTube video on a Google Slide, you have the option to put a start and end play time. So, if you want to skip the introduction or avoid a section of a video, you can do that!
          • Make embedded questions and stimulus items directly on a YouTube video using EdPuzzle.
          • Control the speed of the YouTube video so that you can slow it down for students who need more processing time with the words or movements in the video.
          • Use Chrome Extensions like Webpaint to write directly on webpages and videos. So, if you want to visually cue a student for something to pay attention to while watching the video you can draw on it. Or, you can pause the video and draw on a specific portion of the video while discussing concepts. 
          • Create playlists of your favorite songs, books, wordless short videos, etc. for different treatment areas, themes or type of content to easily bring up again when you use with a new group or client. Plus, you can also search for public playlists and find videos quicker!
          • For SLPs wanting to send homework or modeling techniques to parents, you can timestamp your video in the description so that parents or students can quickly get to a section of the video that they may need to rewatch.
          Get the top tips for using YouTube videos in speech therapy.

          What tech tips do you have about using YouTube videos?

          Learn all the best tips for using YouTube videos in speech therapy

          If you have any tech tips for using YouTube videos in your speech therapy sessions, do share in the comments! Or, if you have a favorite channel you love to use in speech, let me know. For SLPs that have been following me a long time, you know I am a big fan of Simon Cat’s Videos.

          Best SH Articulation Games For High Trials & Motivation

          Best SH Articulation Games For High Trials & Motivation

          My nephew recently yelled “Shh!” to me while holding his finger (horizontally) in front of his lips. At first, it made me laugh but then I thought “Aha!” he’s got the /sh/ sound! These “Aha!” or “Ta Da!” moments are so exciting to watch as caregivers as well as speech therapists. It made me think of the students working on this “sh” sound. They work so hard on this sound during each session for these “Aha” moments. I love to use engaging, functional and motivating activities to help them keep practicing and eventually have their own “Ta Da!” moments. I have plenty of fun SH articulation games that I wanted to share with you, plus some new ones that I brainstormed, too. 

          This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links for your convenience. I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

          Here are some ideas for you to use in speech therapy when working on the sh sound.

          SH Articulation Games for Preschool & Elementary

          Shark Bite is a fun game for “Shark Week” or “Ocean animals” theme, but can also be used at any time of year. 

          • You and/or your students take turns rolling the die and fishing for sea creatures using a fishing pole BUT you never know when the shark will bite. 
          • This game obviously allows for great practice of /sh/ initial words like “shark” or “sharp teeth.” You can also practice /sh/ in the medial or final positions by prompting students to practice words/phrases such as “fish,” “fishing,” “I/you fish,” and “I am fishing.”
          • Talk more about: Sharks live in the ocean. They make splashes!


          A classic card game, Go Fish is another fun way to work on the /sh/ sound. 

          • While the target sound is right in the name and script of the game, I also shared New Ways to Play Go Fish in Speech Therapy in my blog. 
          • I found this fun adaptation of Go Shark on Amazon. While again, the targets are in the name and script, you could also use phrases like “Show me your card” or “I wish I got __.” You could also ask students to describe the shark like “Big shark” or “scary shark.”


          Fun SH games for speech therapy with free Go Fish rules visual

          More Ocean Themed Games for Speech Therapy to Work on the SH Sound

          Get ideas for SH speech therapy games you can use to get high trials in speech.

          One of the first games I bought for my speech room: Let’s Go Fishin’. Don’t forget batteries for this one! 

          • I like to turn this game off and on and have students tell me to “Push” the switch or “Shut it off!”
          • Before they start fishing, we’ll practice phrases like “Time to fish!” or “I’ll get the __ fish!”
          • After we “shut the game off,” we’ll practice phrases like “Show me your fish!” or “I have (number/color) fish.”


          I was so excited when I found Sophie’s Seashell Scramble last summer, and so were my students! 

          • Similar to “Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game,” students spin one wheel and have to collect seashells and starfish for Sophie the otter. This game adds another challenge in matching patterns. 
          • Some sh initial words to practice during this game include “shell,” “she” when talking about Sophie, “share” when you have to share with a friend” and talking about the “shapes” on each starfish or shell. You can also practice /sh/ in the medial and final positions of “seashell” and “starfish.”
          • Need more words to practice? Incorporate questions that “sure” may be the answer! Re-name “Sophie” to a name like Shonda, Shelly, Michelle or Shayna. 

          Speech Therapy Games for SH Sound with Ships

          Battle Ship is another fun SH articulation game for older students. Pro tip? This game may take extra time so play a modified version so you can “finish” the game in one session. 

          • Practice the word “ship” by itself or “battle ship” to work on /sh/ in the medial position. 
          • You can practice phrases like “That shot fell short!,” “I wish you didn’t sink my ship!” and “That was an ambush!”


          Last but certainly not least, Don’t Rock the boat, is another fun way to practice the /sh/ sound. This is fun for a pirate, penguin or transportation theme.

          • Change the name of the game to “Don’t rock the SHIP!” and talk about what the ship does. Does it “crash?”
          • Students can choose what pirate they’d like to use–some are “short.” Then, ask students “Should you put a pirate there?” and they can answer “I should/should not.”
          • Students “should not rush” so the pirates and ship don’t “crash” or “smash!”
          • During a pirate theme, practice a silly phrase like “shiver me timbers!”
          Get ideas for speech therapy games you can use to target the SH sound.

          SH Words You Can Target With These Popular Games

          Find fun sh articulation activities using sound-loaded games!

          My students and I love Chutes and Ladders. It keeps students on their toes and has many practice opportunities. Check out my  toy companion cheat sheet for this game or the full set of toy companion sheet. Make sure to explain to students what the “chutes” are. You can also grab the full set on TPT

          • Some ideas to use as targets for this SH articulation game: “Is the chute/ladder short or tall?” “Dash up the ladder!” “I wish I didn’t have to go down the slide.” 
          • You can also talk about what the children on the game board are doing…For example, one child dropped the dishes and another child’s ball smashed into a window.


          Play Headbanz and only put SH words in the headbands! 

          • Look through the deck of cards provided, or make your own deck of cards with /sh/ words. 
          • Are you or your students “shocked” at how easy or difficult it is? 
          • Students can tell you to “Show” them the card.


          Who doesn’t love candyland? Play this classic but call it “sugarland”!

          • There is also a toy companion cheat sheet for this in my sets.
          • Hold the cards and have students request “Please show me my card.”
          • Talk about all the “sugary” treats on the board and the “shiny” jewels some of the characters have.
          • Are students able to find or land on any of the “shortcuts?” What colors are they “wishing” for?

          Even more SH articulation game ideas!

          Shelby’s Snack Shack is another fun game similar to Sneaky Snacky Squirrel. This is great for a pet/dog theme but of course can be used year round. The key to use SH articulation games to get high trials is to come up with sound-loaded phrases.

          • Spin two wheels and then collect bones from “Shelby’s Snack Shack.” Two great targets right in the name of the game! Who is selling bones? Shelby! Where? Her shack! Where is her shack? On the seashore! You can also talk about “shopping” 
          • Plus, every time a student gets a bone, they have to put it in their “dish.”
          • For more practice, talk about what the children see on the beach including some “fish” in the “ocean.” 


          The game Perfection allows for practice of /sh/ in all positions of words. 

          • Before taking their turn, talk about the “shape” of the piece or students can practice “Put the shape in.”
          • Then, students have to “push” or “shove” the pieces in.
          • When students put a piece in, was it “perfection” or did “The pieces shoot out!”?
          Find speech therapy SH sound games you can do in your articulation and phonology sessions

          DIY Games Speech Therapy You Can Play

          Get a great list of SH games for speech therapy!

          If you are on a budget, here are some SH articulation games you can make with stuff you have on hand. While you can buy your own Charades for Kids, you can also make your own with /sh/ words.

          • For the store bought game, students not acting things out can practice calling “Action!” or “Time for the show!”
          • Participants can remind others “Shhh, just show us!” so they don’t use words when acting things out. 
          • To make your own “sh” charades game, use words like: fish(ing), crash, hush, brush, washing dishes, shark, shrink, shout, shut the door, and shopping. 


          You can also play trash can game

          • Crumble up paper, put out a trashcan and have kids try to shoot the paper into the trash can. 
          • Do carrier phrases “I am going to shoot” “I shot it” or “It’s in the trash can.”
          • Make a sensory bin and have students clean up the “trash” and put it in a “trash can.” The “trash” can be “sh” picture cards or mini objects. 

          Remember This When You Are Shopping for Games

          SH articulation games can be so easy and fun to use! A lot of these ideas have great options for groups with mixed goals which is always a plus! Remember you don’t have to buy ALL these game recommendations. Get the ones that fit your budget, student interest or will be the most versatile for other speech therapy goals. How do you practice the /sh/ sound with your students? I can’t wait to hear some of your ideas!

          Get ideas for SH articulation games to use with your elementary speech therapy students.