Play Themes for Summer

Play Themes for Summer

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

Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.

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.

If you want to make the ocean sensory bin pictured above, here is what you will need:

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.

 

Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.

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

Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.

Learning Resources has a lemonade stand themed card game that can easily be used in speech therapy.

I would recommend checking out Amazon’s lemonade toy set that is currently under $15 and great for a lemonade pretend play activity.

You can also make a lemonade sensory bin with lemon scented rice.

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. 

Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.
Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.

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. 

Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.
Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.

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

Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.

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!

Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.
Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.

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! 

Using spring vocabulary to teach grammar

Using spring vocabulary to teach grammar

I think we can all say as speech pathologists that planning engaging therapy lessons that cover a lot of goals, and provide meaningful practice can be HARD to do. What if I told you that you could use spring vocabulary to target a LOT of grammar skills and do it for the entire spring season!?

Using spring vocabulary to work on grammar concepts helps provide increased engagements with vocabulary (language-impaired kids need 36 engagements to learn a word), and it helps your students make connections with words that they hear during the spring weather season. In this blog post, I am going to share grammar ideas for your K-2 students, but some can be adapted for upper elementary students too! 

 

Evidence-Based Practices for Grammar

Students with language disorders need to be explicitly taught grammar rules when learning to add new morphemes to a verb or noun. One study found that implicitly and explicitly teaching grammar rules showed significant improvements with the students learning the grammatical forms.

Implicit teaching – giving a lot of exposure of the morpheme without teaching the explanation or rule. So, reading a book to a student with a lot of emphasis on the morpheme is an example of implicitly teaching the grammar rule. During a play activity, the SLP/educator may model a verb tense while playing in hopes the student will begin to use that verb tense.

Explicit teaching – providing direct instruction about the grammar rules and how to use the rule in language.

Tips for how to use spring vocabulary to target grammar skills in speech therapy

Teaching Methods That Will Increase Your Student’s Expressive Grammar Skills

How to use spring vocabulary to teach grammar concepts in speech therapy
  • Teaching the target directly
  • Modeling the target with emphasis
  • Prompting the child to use the target
  • Conversation Recasting the child’s errors on the target – when the SLP models what the child said with the correct grammar and emphasizing the correct morpheme such as “I do like catsssss.” You can read more about this evidence-based practice on this BLOG POST.
  • Providing feedback on the child’s productions

To read more about effective grammar intervention information, you can read my blog post, HERE.

Smith-Lock, K. M., Leitao, S., Lambert, L. & Nickels, L. (2013). Effective intervention for expressive grammar in children with specific language impairment. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 48(3), 265–282.

Easy Ways to Use Spring Vocabulary to Teach Grammar

Use spring vocabulary to teach transition words while comparing and contrasting nouns

With your students, you can work on comparing and contrasting spring-themed nouns. Not only will this help build depth of knowledge with the vocabulary words (i.e, discussing category groups, function, texture, size, shape, location, etc.), you can also work on transition words ‘because,’ ‘although,’ and conjunctions ‘and’ and ‘but.’

You can also work on noun-verb agreement such as “A water bottle has a lid, but a juice box has a seal to punch with a straw when you want to drink it.”

To work on singular and plural noun forms, you can practice when comparing/contrasting words such as hot dog/hamburger.

Hamburgers have a top and bottom bun. Hot dogs have one bun. Hamburgers have a round meat patty and hot dogs have a long stick of meat. 

FREE Compare and Contrast Graphic Organizer

Do you need a visual way to show your students how to compare two nouns? Use this FREE compare and contrast graphic organizer to use with spring nouns.

Here are some good spring noun pairings:

  • garden bag/picnic basket
  • rake/shovel
  • bird/kite
  • bug jar/bug container

If you need more spring compare/contrast cards, there are 18 noun pairings in my spring vocabulary and grammar activities set.

 

Use spring vocabulary to teach grammar skills in speech therapy sessions

Grammar Drill Ideas for Plural Nouns and Third Person Singular

Use spring vocabulary to help your students learn the grammar for marking singular or plural. Make a list of spring items that you may see or use in the springtime. Then, have your students practice marking plurals such as hoses, birds, watering cans, trees, etc.

Another functional drill activity would be to practice third person singular using spring items. Often times, kids like to go bug hunting, so they can talk about what the boy/girl put in the bug jar. For example, you can practice, “He puts three ladybugs in the jar.”

For SLPs that love sensory bins or have a fun jar, use these plastic mini insects (Amazon affiliate link) to have students take turns putting some bugs in the jar. Then, the students can say, “Jeremiah puts a ladybug in the jar.” You can also work on answering “who” questions by asking “Who put in a ladybug?”

If you need spring task cards to work on these skills, they are in my spring grammar and vocabulary sets.

Tips for how to use spring vocabulary to target grammar skills in speech therapy
Tips for how to use spring vocabulary to target grammar skills in speech therapy

Using Spring Vocabulary to Build Grammatically Correct Sentences

Use spring vocabulary in grammatically correct sentences to work on using verbs in functional sentences.

One a piece of paper, you can make a word web with your students to talk about everything that reminds them of spring. After you generate a nice list, have them create grammatically correct sentences with the nouns and verbs. This is a great way to work on past/present verbs, adverbs, prepositional phrases while also working on other skills such as talking about noun-functions, where items are located, and what parts they have. I like having a spring vocabulary poster, so I can talk about everything spring related with my students. It makes the session easy to prep and I know I can cover a lot of goals.

 

Play Grammar Charades with Spring Vocabulary

You can also play charades with your spring vocabulary or spring verbs. This can provide some movement in your session and also allow meaningful practice of grammar targets!

Make a list of spring verbs or gather all your spring verb pictures. Put them in a hat and have students pick a verb. They can act out the verb. Once the group guesses the verb, you can have students practice making sentences with present, past, and future tenses.

 

More Games to Play with Spring Vocabulary

Other fun games you can practice is doing word associations such as with the word ‘blowing’ students can come up with spring vocabulary related to that verb. For example, you can see a kite blowing in the wind, or you can blow bubbles.

Kids also love the game Go Fish, so you can use spring vocabulary or spring verbs as your stimulus items. Another game I like to use is the Flashlight game where you turn off the lights and look for words on the wall. If you own magnetic wands, you can add paper clips to your vocabulary or verb cards, turn them over and have kids select a card. Put a hidden token under one of the cards. The person who finds the token wins! You can read about more magnetic wand ideas HERE.

How Do You Use Spring Vocabulary in Therapy?

I would love to know all the ways you are using spring vocabulary to work on grammar goals. Share your ideas in the comments! If you need more spring speech therapy ideas to use with your mixed groups, check out this replay Facebook LIVE video filled with ideas.

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