Looking for some easy and affordable crafts to use for your speech therapy sessions? Struggling with planning your co-teaching lessons for your students with more complex communication needs? Using easy paper plate crafts can be a great solution for covering many goals and increasing engagement with your students. This blog post is all about different fall paper plate crafts you can use during your sessions. You students working on articulation, stuttering, and language goals can do these fun crafts and write or glue their targets on the back of the craft. Plus, your students will also have something to bring home to practice at home because their targets are on the back of the craft.
And, trying to keep young friends motivated during your push-in or co-teaching sessions is kinda tricky. So, why not bring in an easy craft to work on expanding communication functions? Check out these FUNctional fall paper plate crafts to use tomorrow!
Apple and Pumpkin Paper Plate Crafts
You can make apples and pumpkins with the paper plates. You need the following craft supplies:
-List or pictures of your student’s targets
These crafts can be great as an extension activity after reading an apple or pumpkin-themed book and then making the craft to connect with the theme of the book. You can work on fine motor skills for tearing the paper as well as CORE vocabulary ‘on,’ ‘want,’ ‘more, ‘look,’ ‘all done,’ ‘yes,’ and ‘no.’
For your students working on specific speech or language goals, you can have them goal their pictures on the back of the paper plate craft. You can hang these up on a bulletin board or send home as homework.
When using as a whole class lesson, you can do some carpet activities and then break up into stations to complete the craft. Check out how you can plan an apple-themed whole class lesson HERE.
Provide Visual Directions for Your Students
Wondering about these visual step-by-step directions for the fall paper plate crafts? These are part of the Themed Therapy SLP membership for Prek-5th grade. If you are interested, sign up today.
Fall Paper Plate Crafts for Speech Therapy
This fall wreath paper plate craft can be a great activity for fall season or when talking about gratitude. This works best if you have a leaf die-cut or a Cricut to help cut the leaves out efficiently.
Supplies you need:
-scissors, hole punch
Students would cut a circle out of the paper plate so there is a hole in the middle (you can do this step if you feel like it will take to long to have the students do this part. Once, all the leaves are glued, you hole punch a hole at the top and tie string or pipe cleaner so you can hang it on a door.
One cool thing about easy crafts is that you can naturally work on following directions, and sequencing the steps for the craft. After making the craft you can ask students to explain the steps with verbs, transition words, and vocabulary used when making the craft. If you need pictures to add on the back for speech or language goals, you can use this Any Craft Companion Pack.
Thanksgiving Paper Plate Crafts
Make this paper plate turkey and have students write, draw or glue their speech or language targets on the back. This would go perfectly with the book Run, Turkey, Run or Turkey Trouble.
To sponge paint the different feather colors, I just used cotton balls and had them attached to clothespins. For the eyes, I found some cool eye stickers on Amazon. After you make this craft, students can use their turkey to follow directions, put it different places to work on basic concepts, and act out silly turkey verb actions.
Need More Paper Plate Craft Ideas?
If you can’t tell already, I think paper plates are an essential for easy to prep crafts. They are cheap and can be used for a variety of crafts. Here are some more paper plate crafts your students might like:
Do you have students on your caseload that struggle with initiating communication during social situations? Students struggling with initiating may benefit from an audio conversation script.
When working with students with social pragmatic weaknesses, specifically autistic students, learning the frameworks of conversation can be overwhelming. Furthermore, having strategies that can provide that framework without verbally prompting them is a great solution. Mainly, because fading verbal prompts is REALLY hard. Our students can easily become dependent on our verbal prompts to initiate communication. And, we don’t want that do we!
Help Your Students Initiate Communication Without Verbal Prompts
There isn’t anything better than watching a student initiate novel communication independently. Personally, I LOVE it! Most importantly, our jobs are to help our students be successful with independently communicating. Therefore, the strategies we use need to help provide structure without overly prompting them, if possible. If you have been finding yourself verbally prompting a lot, that might be an indicator to try an audio script!
Not only was I verbally prompting all the time, but I also wasn’t seeing a lot of generalization from doing that intervention. That’s how I got started implementing more conversation scripts to help support my autistic students. Just by adding in a visual or auditory framework, I was able to reduce my verbal prompts and see more success with independent participation in conversation tasks. In this post, I am going to be sharing 3 FREE apps to make an audio conversation script for your students.
For those of you not sure what a conversation script is, you can head to this blog post to read more about them HERE.
Benefits of Using an Audio Conversation Scripts
If you were trying to figure out if an audio conversation script is a good fit for your student, check out these benefits:
Audio scripts are easy to make and cost-effective with FREE apps.
You can make the audio conversation script on an iPad or phone which is easy to add to for anyone using the script with a student (this could be great for travelling SLPs.)
Parents can make audio scripts to use at home and you can help train them.
Using an audio conversation script can help you, staff or caregiver reduce using verbal prompts to teach communication skills.
You can increase your student’s participation in a variety of social communication activities.
Research Study Showing Success with Using Audio Conversation Scripts
A research study by Topus, C., & Ulke-Kurkcuoglu, B. (2019) found that when they used an audio script it increased verbal interaction with autistic children. In the study, they used an audio script to teach 5 to 6-year-old autistic boys to initiate interactions with their parents during play. Specifically, the children were taught to activate an audio recorder to play an utterance (e.g., Let’s play with the duck).
When the child activated the recorder, they repeated the utterance to initiate the interaction with their parent. Subsequently, the parent would then respond to the initiation with a phrase or action that matched the request.
As the child learned the audio script, the audio recording was slowly faded (word by word) until the child started independently initiating the phrase. Based on this study, all the children maintained and generalized verbal initiations across different types of toys and settings.
The positive outcomes from this study particularly demonstrate that this intervention can increase initiation and easily generalizes to different people, items and settings. It’s important to remember that not only do we want success in our speech sessions, but we also want to see those skills used across the child’s day!
As promised with this blog post, I am excited to share that you can easily make audio conversation scripts with FREE apps. Here are my top four choices for creating audio conversation scripts:
PlayButton byAardustry LLC Is an app that can be downloaded on your iPhone or iPad. In particular, this app is perfect to make an audio script on a parent’s, staff, or school iPad. Ideally, this means that the audio script is available to all parties that work with the student.
Many students with moderate-severe disabilities benefit from using low-tech AAC tools to help them communicate. Helping parents at home with easy ways to work on communication can be tough. That’s why showing them how to work on functional communication during meal time is great. Meal time is a common routine in the home and children are pretty motivated to communicate around food. Even if the child protests, this is very empowering for them to know that someone understands they don’t want something! Today, I am going to share how you can coach parents with using a meal time communication board to build language and expand functions of communication.
Meal times are a great way to help train parents and staff at school to work on CORE vocabulary and communication functions.
It can be hard to find ways to work on more than just requesting with our students. Using CORE vocabulary can help you work on answering yes/no questions, requesting more, protesting, sharing opinions (i.e. like/don’t like), social functions (i.e. turn taking, waiting, saying polite communication forms.)
CORE vocabulary are those words that can be used across many activities and speakers such as the word “go” can be used to tell the parent to “go get the milk,” or “go to the car,” or “go away.” The fringe vocabulary is at the top of the meal CORE board in the picture. The fringe vocabulary are specific words that can be used for a certain setting or activity. You wouldn’t have a spoon or fork on a page for math because it isn’t specific to that theme or category.
Tips for Coaching Parents with the Meal Time Communication Board
When helping parents and staff with using the meal time communication board, you want to remember that this might be very new to them.
So, instead of telling your parents 5-10 ways to use the CORE board, give them one actionable step or goal for the week.
It might be as simple as, “Put the communication board on the fridge and bring it over to the table for 1 mealtime.”
Then, next week, you can give them a coaching assignment of modeling “more” with the CORE board. Every week, you want to give one actionable tip. As your parents/staff get the hang of things, you can add in more elements.
Remember, we are trying to establish routines and habits of using it, so that takes time. We don’t want to overwhelm them because then they won’t feel empowered to use the CORE board.
You may have to show your parents what it looks like to model and invite their child to use the CORE board. You can film a quick video with the CORE vocabulary you want them to use and give them tips about providing “wait time,” and “using the board themselves to communicate with their child.”
If you need more CORE boards that have fringe vocabulary, check out this blog post. You can work on coaching parents and staff while playing bubbles. Playing with bubbles is definitely a favorite in my therapy room. This blog post talks all about how to use bubbles in speech.
During the winter months, I love using The Mitten in Speech Therapy. It is such a versatile book to target speech and language goals. One reason, “The Mitten” is a great book choice for your students with language impairments is because there is a little illustration on each page showing what will happen next. This gives our students a visual cue to help with comprehending the story.
Today, I wanted to share some ways you can use the book to target multiple goals as well as share about some resources you can use as extension activities. This book is such a classic that you can find it at the library, GoodWill or on Amazon (affiliate link).
If you love using The Mitten with your mixed groups, the Themed Therapy SLP membership has a winter unit with a book cheat sheet and a visual story map to help you adapt the story for different ages and groups. When you sign up for the annual membership, you can access over 24 themes to plan for your Prek-5th grade caseload.
Speech Therapy Activities for The Mitten Book
There is research that shows when language therapy focuses on a broad range of skills such as vocabulary, grammar, syntax, narrative skills, and inferencing are linked to showing effective outcomes for student’s reading comprehension abilities. As oral language improves, so does reading comprehension, which is what we want to see in our students.
So, using stories to cover all those concepts is an effective way to plan therapy. You can teach your students tier II vocabulary from the story such as attracted, grumbled, commotion and swooped.
After you read the story, your students can act out the words, use them in a sentence within the context of the story, name antonyms/synonyms for the word and create picture friendly definitions.
As you are reading the story outloud to your students, you can conduct think-alouds about the book. A think-aloud is a strategy you can use to demonstrate how you are thinking about the text you are reading. This helps you students to learn the strategies they need to utilize to understand the content they are listening to or reading. You can have your student think-aloud about what the character’s are feeling, making predictions about the story elements and to help your students check to see if they understand what is happening in the story.
As you read each page of the story, you can create visual sentence frames you want the student to use with the book.
By having one or two sentence frames, helps reduce the cognitive load for your students. It can help your student expressively demonstrate their grammar or comprehension skills without feeling overwhelmed with what they have to produce.
A simple sentence frame for “The Mitten” could be, “The ___ went inside the mitten.”
A more complex sentence frame visual could be working on inferencing, such as “I predict the ______ will _______ because of ______.”
Place the graphic organizer in a page protector and use it with a dry-erase marker. Have you ever tried Ultra Fine Tip dry-erase markers? They are the best! You can get them on Amazon (affiliate link).
AAC CORE words for The Mitten by Jan Brett
One way you can make this book more accessible to your students using AAC is by adding the CORE and FRINGE vocabulary to your book!
Many of your students with moderate language impairments may need the story simplified to help them understand the main parts. These visual sidekicks from The Language Ladies SLP can help you have the visual supports you need to help improve your students’ grammar and vocabulary.
For your students that are struggling with comprehension and need the book adapted, having those visuals to reference while you are reading can be very helpful to increase engagement. When our students understand the language, they are more likely to be excited to participate.
I just attached the visual sidekicks with Velcro Dots that I got on Amazon (affiliate link).
Mitten Sensory Bin for Articulation and Language
After reading the book, “The Mitten,” you can work on describing mittens by attributes such as category group, function, parts, textures, where, etc.
You can talk about how mittens come in pairs and why you need them for both hands.
This mittens match-up sensory bin resource allows your students to find “pairs” of items that go together, such as word association, antonyms, and categories. This helps build depth of knowledge for words being taught to our students with language impairments.
For the filler, you can use salt, white play dough, cotton balls, white yarn, cutup white straws, or white pom pom balls. To see more winter sensory bins, check out this blog post.
The Mitten Sequencing Activities – Free Printables
If you have students that benefit from hands-on activities, I highly recommend downloading these free printables for, “The Mitten.”
You can use them to help your students with story retell, which is an evidence-based practice for improving vocabulary and comprehension. You can also use these visuals to create a sensory bin. An SLP submitted this sensory bin idea. She used ripped up white paper for filler, and a long piece of string to be the mitten. Then, she placed the printables in the bin and worked on oral narration.
While coloring the item that can fit in the mitten, you can talk about mittens by attributes as well as the item the child chose to draw. How would you use this free printable for The Mitten in therapy? Share in the comments.
The Mitten Activities Printables – FREE
Here are some more free printables and activities that you can use with your students to work on language and oral narration with “The Mitten”:
At my middle school placement, I push in to the SDC functional skills classes to work on social skills and functional communication. I began thinking about life skills my students will need when they are adults. Interview and conversation skills are very important for getting jobs as well as being a part of a community!
Most of the students in these classes have Intellectual Disabilities, but they are all verbal. Some students need visual supports to make novel utterances more independently. It is pretty tough planning lessons for this bunch because there are various levels, so some need visuals and the lessons have to be middle school friendly even though most of the students are functioning around a 1st-2nd grade academic level.
As a team, we have been picking themes for the week and/or month to help guide our lesson planning. I did these activities back at the beginning of the school year and then tried to make this pack more formal, so I could save the lesson plans for next year!
My kids are too young for practicing job interview questions, but I thought they still needed to work on how to ask/answer questions in conversation with peers and in more formal situations like talking with the PRINCIPAL! Yes, my students were able to formally interview the principals using the “favorite” question guide. There are three activities in this pack: greetings, turn taking in conversation with peers, and job interview skills. I include a lesson plan with links to youtube videos that support these skills. I have several students on the autism spectrum, so these videos are perfect for video modeling (evidenced based practice)!
First, I show the class the youtube video. I embedded the greetings video that I found to give you an example. Then, we break up into groups, or stay as a whole class to discuss expected vs. unexpected behaviors. I will have the students and staff role play and the class rates if the students were expected or unexpected.Here is an example of my “rate my communication” forms that I made!
I put velcro on one of my clear vinyl dry erase pouches to use with my expected vs. unexpected file folder activities. These are great to do during the lesson and then allow the teacher to use them the rest of the week with students. Some of my students can read well, so there is a sheet with just words and then a sheet with visual supports for those that need help with reading the words.
This video is perfect for showing turn taking with peers and seeing that other people are having thoughts about us when we are talking! I loved this video! My kids practiced asking each other about their favorite things and working on making comments too. This was a great activity to help lead into asking/answering questions in a more formal setting.
There are visuals for asking and answering questions with peers about their favorite things. I also included Q and A visuals, to help some of my kids understand who should be asking the question and who is answering the question.
I showed the job interview video to talk about what to do during a job or formal interview. My kids aren’t ready for practicing for job interviews, but I wanted them to try to practice talking with someone in a formal setting. So, I asked my principals if they would be willing to help and they said “yes!”. We have a follow up appointment coming soon to re-interview them. We talked about how greetings with adults and professionals are different compared to their peers. We also practiced what kind of body language we need to have during the interview. I filmed them all and then we got to critique everyone’s performance!
I loved all these lessons and I hope you do too!! The first three peeps to comment below with some cool activities you have been doing in your speech room, will get this pack for FREE!
Last year, I worked with mod-severe elementary students on the autism spectrum. Talk about needing AAC tools for communication! I had a WIDE range of skills going on in my K/1st grade and 2nd/3rd grade classes and needed some support with how to serve them all. I was making communication boards as I could, but was still struggling to have visuals for everything! My district sent me to a year long course (6 full day sessions) on AAC assessment and the training introduced me to CORE BOARDS.
I made a visual schedule for a parent that was reporting that her son was struggling with transitions. Above are my CORE boards with fringe vocabulary that I used for bubbles. I printed a CORE board and glued to a file folder. Then I laminated it and added velcro, so I could interchange the fringe vocabulary for whatever toy or activity I was using. I used the CORE boards with my non-verbal kids AND with my kids who were talking, but NOT generalizing their speech in different contexts or were not using different functions such as yes/no questions, greetings, opinions, sharing information, commenting and asking questions. I personally had great success using low tech communication tools with these students. Many of them started to greet me by name (melted my heart) and I had a little guy say “speech time” any time I showed up to their class.
My visual necklace was a great resource to have because I always knew that wherever I was on campus, I always had visuals commands that I could use with students. No joke, the teacher told a student “go wash your hands” and the kid just sat there. I walked over and said the EXACT SAME THING and showed him the wash hands symbol, the kid got up and washed his hands. Of course, there are those little ones that heard the teacher just fine and are choosing to say put. In those cases, a behavioral incentive may be the ticket to getting those hands washed!
I had a couple of students who were 5 years old and had minimal verbal speech. One of the students did a lot of singing and echolalia, but not a lot of functional speech. As I was soon discovering about my therapy, all we were really working on was requesting. This of course is not a bad place to start, but as I was taking the AAC class, I forgot about ALL the other functions of communication. It is very functional and typical for toddlers ages 12-24 months to begin to understand greetings and use gestures/ single words “hi” and “bye” with familiar people. My 5-6 year olds were not greeting me or responding to my greetings with words or a wave. They usually came physically over to me or familiar staff to communicate that they saw me. I tried to create some visuals to help them to work on responding and initiating greetings.
I made this for one of my who had multiple disabilities including being deaf. She had cochlear implants, but would not keep them on consistently. She could put 2-3 icons together and go to different pages on Proloquo 2 go, but she would often just use the communication app to do her own thing even if we locked her in to the one app. The teacher also struggled to use the communication app with her because the other students would get mad if they saw her using an IPAD and they didn’t get one. So, I came up with a low-tech communication board that would allow us to have visuals at all times to communicate with her. I included a CORE board for frequently used commands the teacher used with the students such as “clean up”, “wash hands”, “great job”.
I have been storing all of these AAC materials in file folders in a filing cabinet and shoving the little pieces in plastic bags and feeling a bit disorganized with all the visuals. I went in search of an organization solution on amazon. I took a chance with this Poly Zip Files (amazon affiliate links included for your convenience) and am SUPER satisfied with this purchase!!
It has 15 letter sized zipper pouches and 5 check sized pouches that fit in the plastic container. I like having things all in one place and this allows me to store most of my AAC tools in this container.
The AAC training really emphasized that using visuals with my autism students whether they were verbal or not would help with generalization of communication beyond just requesting. I grabbed those CORE boards and ran with it because I had NO time for prepping visuals (I had 80 kids on my caseload). The CORE boards contain the most frequently used words that toddlers use. You can elicit TONS of communication functions with just 20 words. In therapy, I model my language using the CORE board as a way to show them how to communicate with the board.
If you want to see my starter kit in action, go check out my AAC Starter Kit tour on youtube! I am hoping to get some small videos using the CORE boards with my 2 year old to help with demonstrating.
I have been learning A LOT about AAC and do not consider myself an expert by any means, but the visuals in this kit are aligned with evidence based practices for teaching functional communication. If you think this is something that would be helpful for your caseload, you can grab the kit HERE! Enter below for your chance to win this starter kit. It is a great time saver and helpful tool.