3 Grammar Activities You Can Use to Build Vocabulary

3 Grammar Activities You Can Use to Build Vocabulary

When looking for quality grammar resources, you ideally want something easy to prepare, aligns with evidence-based practices, and engages your students. It’s also a bonus when you can find grammar activities that build vocabulary skills.

Sometimes it is HARD to find these types of grammar activities because grammar instruction can be boring for our students. There I said it. Our grammar therapy can get stale if we don’t watch out and switch things up when we notice our students aren’t engaged! When you see the glossy-eyed look or off-task behavior, all the signs you need to know it’s time to find a new grammar lesson.

I am always trying to create or find grammar resources that will keep my students motivated to practice in a session but won’t scrimp on quality intervention. Today, I am sharing three grammar resources that can build vocabulary with you.

If you are looking for tips on grammar intervention, check out this blog post.

Easy to Adapt Sentence Graphic Organizer for Grammar Intervention

Use these grammar activities to simultaneously build vocabulary in your language therapy sessions.

Many of our language-impaired students struggle with understanding the parts of speech. Your students may show weaknesses with noun-verb agreement, adding in adjectives, adverbs, or prepositional phrases.

With your students who need to build more complex sentences, this FREE sentence frame graphic organizer will help them color code the different parts of speech.

Plus, you can use this graphic organizer with ANY activity. One of my favorite ways to use this visual support is with wordless short videos. In particular, the Simon’s Cat YouTube videos are pretty handy to use with this graphic organizer.

You can read more about how to use those videos HERE.

Target Themed Vocabulary with the Graphic Organizer

If you enjoy planning by themes, you can use themed books, photos, videos, or picture scenes to work on themed vocabulary while teaching grammar concepts.

As a group, have your students describe what they see while you write it in the correct parts of the speech column. Then, your students can create sentences using the graphic organizer’s visual support.

While your students create their sentences, you can use the vocabulary from the photos. Check out these seasonal inferencing task cards if you need some themed photos with this graphic organizer.

Have engaging grammar activities that also help build vocabulary in speech therapy!

Resources for Targeting Grammar and Vocabulary with the Sentence Graphic Organizer

There are LOTS of ways to use this sentence frame graphic organizer! Pair this with real photos (search on pixabay) or GIFS! Need help with adding GIF? Head to my YouTube video and watch at the ten-minute mark. 

You can also use Simon Cats videos, picture scenes from books or comics, and the pictures from these seasonal-themed verbs and vocabulary sets. Click the link below to check out.

A Grammar Activity that Focuses on Building Vocabulary in Context

Have grammar activities that also build vocabulary in your language therapy sessions

Many years ago, I had a student who struggled week after week with remembering the grammar rules. Slowly, both the student and I became frustrated with the therapy process. My student was beginning to lack confidence and motivation to practice. And I, as the clinician, was stumped on how to help my student learn the grammatical rules. The evidence-based practices of implicitly and explicitly teaching the grammar concepts weren’t working for my student.

That’s when I shifted gears to focus on the content of a sentence. Instead of hyper-focusing on grammar rules, we concentrate on what makes a complete sentence. We began making sentences with real photos that included the who, what, where, and when. To reduce the overwhelm of writing and generating sentences independently, I made scaffolded worksheets to help build confidence with this student.

Changing How You Present a Grammar Activity Can Be a Game Changer for Therapy Progress

As we continued working on building sentences with who, what, where, and when, I found that my student was engaged, participating more confidently and creating more complex sentences with less support.

And with this approach, you can also target grammar errors within the context of the sentence, so we practiced grammatical rules as we reviewed each sentence created.

You can work on building vocabulary that is related to the picture by adding adjectives, more complex verbs, and vocabulary words seen in the photo.

If you need build a sentence grammar worksheets that focus on content versus grammar rules, check out this resource in my store!

Maximize your language therapy with grammar activities that also build vocabulary skills.

Get High Trials and Teach Depth of Knowledge With This Grammar Resource

A lot of research shows that explicitly teaching the grammar rules with a cueing hierarchy is effective for learning morphemes. But, it’s hard to keep your students engaged while drilling morphology.

So, that’s why I came up with the Grammar Tracer worksheets. They are No Prep, incorporate tracing to keep hands engaged (and your OT happy), and provide a lot of trials with one verb at the sentence level.

You can help your students build deeper semantic networks with the targeted regular and past tense verbs by using visual supports to explain the verb in kid-friendly definitions and providing synonyms and antonyms.

You can stick these worksheets in a page protector and get many great grammar drills in a session. Often, I try to break up the session to have a drill activity and then a more play-based or hands-on lesson. If you start with these grammar worksheets, you can transition to the naturalistic activity feeling good that you got that structured practice in the therapy session.

What Grammar Activities Do You Plan that Also Build Vocabulary?

Do you have a grammar resource or activity that helps keep your students engaged while engaging in meaningful practice? Let me know what games or materials you have used to target different grammar concepts. If you use any of these grammar resources in your therapy session, tag me on social media @thedabblingspeechie so I can celebrate your therapy wins!

It’s always an excellent grammar lesson when you keep your students engaged and build vocabulary simultaneously!

Spring vocabulary words to teach grammar

Spring vocabulary words to teach grammar

As speech pathologists, we can all say 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 words to target a LOT of grammar goals!?

Using spring vocabulary words to work on syntax and morphology 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 will share speech therapy grammar activities for your preschool through second grade students. 

Some of these ideas can be adapted for your 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 in the students learning of the grammatical forms.

Implicit teaching – giving a lot of exposure to the morpheme without teaching the explanation or rule. So, reading a book to a student with a lot of emphases 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.

If you need some grammar speech therapy activities that incorporate these strategies, you will love these 3 activities

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 Words to Teach Grammar

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.


Spring Verb Movement Game for Preschool and Kindergarten

You can also play charades with your spring vocabulary or spring verbs. This can provide movement in your session and 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. If you need a list of spring verb pictures and a list of spring verb words, grab the spring push-in language lesson plan guides because it has it done for you!


Speech Therapy Games with Spring Vocabulary Words

Check out how you can use spring vocabulary for speech therapy to teach syntax and morphology.
This blog post shares how to use spring vocabulary with preschool to 5th grade speech therapy groups to target grammar and syntax.
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.

How to Conversational Recast with Grammar Therapy

How to Conversational Recast with Grammar Therapy

We all want our therapy time with students to be as productive and effective as possible. Our therapy sessions fly by, and when you have mixed groups, you wonder if you even made a dent in helping a child make progress on their goals. That’s not the best feeling.

That’s why I want to share a conversational recast strategy for grammar therapy to help you make the most of your sessions. Plus, I have a FREE  100 unique verbs checklist to keep track of verbs you recast during an activity.

What is a Conversational Recast?

Basically, a conversational recast is a fancy word for emphasizing what the child said with the correct grammar morpheme. For example, if the child said, “He eat,” the clinician could say, “Yes, he eatsssss cookies.” You probably already do this evidence-based practice naturally in your sessions. Still, when you are sitting at IEP meetings, you can confidently tell the IEP team that you are using EBP with grammar intervention.


How I Was Implementing Grammar Therapy

In the past, I would pick 3-6 verbs I wanted to target in therapy. Then, I would conversational recast those 3-6 verbs throughout the session. Whether I was doing a worksheet, using task cards, or play-based therapy, I used a handful of verbs as my targets. I thought by targeting a small set of verbs over and over again would help my students learn the grammatical morphemes easier.

For example, if we were playing with a farmhouse and working on present progressive verb tense, you would hear me using conversational recasts such as “The cow is eating. The horse is eating. The pig is eating. Now, the cow is sleeping. The horse is jumping. The pig is rolling in the mud. The cow is rolling in the grass.”

With my grammar intervention, I would also explicitly teach the grammar rules and then cueing the student to try and use the morpheme.

The way I was doing therapy was NOT wrong or ineffective; however, when reading about the positive outcomes from the research study, “Variability in the language input to children enhances learning in a treatment context,” it gave me permission to start adding in harder verb targets into my therapy sessions.

Using conversational recasts to support grammar intervention

Using 24 Unique Verb Conversational Recast in a Session

This research study looked to see if 18 preschoolers with language impairments made better progress with learning grammatical morphemes when either conversational recasts of 12 verbs two times in a session or 24 unique verbs were conversational recast in a session. The study found that when the clinicians used 24 unique verbs in a session, progress was better. 

I know what you might be thinking….how in the heck am I supposed to think of 24 unique verbs in a mixed group? With off-task behaviors? With limited time to prepare materials?

If you did not think these thoughts, I did! I  tried implementing this conversational recast approach with activities I had planned. It was hard to think of verbs on the spot and keep students engaged. 

So, I created a cheat sheet with 100 unique verbs that I could checkoff while doing any therapy activity. That way, you could put it in a page protector sleeve and check off verbs that you conversationally recast during activities.


Even if you weren’t able to hit 24 unique verbs in a therapy session, this reminds us all that switching up the variety of verbs is beneficial for our student’s learning the grammatical morphemes. You can now provide more unique verbs in therapy and feel confident that you aren’t making grammar intervention more confusing for students!

Need More Cheat Sheets to Help Save Lesson Planning Time?

Play-based therapy can be an effective way to approach grammar intervention for a variety of reasons. For starters, it is easy to grab a toy off the shelf and start using it in therapy. Another thing to note is that students are more engaged when they feel like they are “playing,” so using toys gets excellent buy-in from students. Having to think of 24 unique verbs on the spot while using a toy is a little daunting for the busy SLP, right? I know I need to conserve my brain energy to write that after school and conducting therapy all day can drain my brain. 

That’s why I created toy companion cheat sheets to use any toy and have the grammar targets already selected. Having cheat sheets helps me follow the child’s lead for what toy they want to play with while allowing me the freedom to enjoy therapy. It’s a great feeling knowing that I don’t have to think of verbs on the spot in therapy! Plus, you can also give these toy companions to teachers and parents and provide them with some ideas for working on grammar outside of your sessions. 

Using toy companion cheat sheets to conversationally recast verbs in grammar intervention
Using toy companion cheat sheets to conversationally recast verbs in grammar intervention
Using toy companion cheat sheets to conversationally recast verbs in grammar intervention

More Ideas for Implementing Conversational Recast in Speech Therapy

If you are needing more ideas on how to implement this conversation recasting strategy, I have a replay of an Instagram LIVE I did talking about some therapy ideas. You can also check out this paper plate craft that is easy to use for grammar HERE. When you don’t have time to prep and plan activities, you can head to my store to find grammar activities that include a variety of verbs and align with EBP.

Conversational recast using this paper plate activity in grammar therapy
Use Paper Plates to Target Grammar – EBP aligned!

Use Paper Plates to Target Grammar – EBP aligned!

Let’s face it: SLPs are on a budget. And apparently, so are school districts . . . ‘cause they never seem to have any money available for educators to use for materials (this could be a whole different blog post filled with rants).

I know some SLPs get NO money for supplies, which is very unfortunate. That’s why I love having speech therapy activities that are budget-friendly, engaging for students, AND align with evidence-based practice.

Budget-Friendly Grammar Speech Therapy Activities

Today, I am going to share some grammar speech therapy activities that use paper plates. All you need are paper plates, glue, scissors, and markers! Plus, these grammar speech therapy activities will make you feel like a confident SLP, knowing that your lesson is aligned with EBP. Your kids will never know that they are “working” the entire session—which is a dream for the busy SLP.

What’s the Evidence Around Grammar Intervention?

If you want more information about best practices for grammar intervention in speech therapy, head to this blog post for more articles and tips. I always feel more confident about my therapy when I see research backing it up.

Cueing our students with the correct grammar form has shown to improve gains with grammar. In this study below, the researchers looked at using conversational recasting and cueing. Cueing showed more significant gains, but in other studies conversational recasting has also shown to be effective. Click the pink button below to get this FREE verb checklist. 

With the results from another study, the researchers found more gains with grammar concepts when the clinicians used 24 unique verbs in a session with conversational recasting. Conversational recasting  is when the clinician emphasizes what the child said with the correct grammar target. For example, if the child said, “He eat,” the clinician could say, “Yes, he eatsssss cookies.”

I will show you how you can get those 24 unique verbs in a session with my paper plate ideas. After reading this research, I did recognize that implementing this approach could be very difficult for SLPs who have high caseloads and are forced to have therapy groups of 4 and 5 students.

This research helped me to remember that I can target more than just a handful of verbs during a session (what I was previously doing in my drill) and that using a variety of verbs really does help our students with language impairments.

Plante, E., Ogilvie, T., Vance, R., Aguilar, J.M., Dailey, N.S., Meyers, C., … Burton, R. (2014). Variability in the language input to children enhances learning in a treatment context. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 23, 530–545.

This research article found that explicitly teaching the grammar rules to students is effective.

Finestack, L. H. (2018). Evaluation of an explicit intervention to teach novel grammatical forms to children with developmental language disorder. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1044/2018_JSLHR-L-17-0339.

Grammar Speech Therapy Activities with Paper Plates

The research shows that children with language impairments make better gains with generalizing grammar markers when provided explicit teaching of the grammar rules. That means we have to teach them the rule for the grammar concept.

So, for example, you can make a paper plate grammar slider to work on noun-verb agreement and present progressive markers.

You can also target past tense “was/were” and past tense regular and irregular grammar markers.

How to Make a Paper Plate Grammar Slider

First, you need to get an X-Acto craft knife, paper plates, markers, and colored paper (Amazon affiliate links included for your convenience). Then, you can cut out a two inch colored piece of paper to write the verbs and another strip to write is/are.

With the X-Acto knife, you will need to cut two slits in the paper plate. Allow at least 2 inches for the slits. Then, write your verb targets on one of the papers. Use two strips and try to write 24 verbs. The research also shows that using 24 unique verbs in a session shows significant improvements with language.

Then, slide the strips of paper between the two slits. Now, you can slide the paper strips up and down while practicing different verb targets.

You can adapt this grammar activity to work on pronouns or adding prepositional phrases.

Paper Plate Grammar Challenge

You can also work on grammar targets with a fun grammar challenge using paper plates. You need two paper plates. With your scissors, cut 2-inch slits around the plate. Then, on the other plate, put a generous amount of glue on the middle of the plate. Then, stick the plate with the slits on top of the glue.

Students can flip the flaps as they practice using their grammar target at the word or sentence level. After doing some drills, you can have students do “verb charades” and act out different verbs as an engaging activity. If you need help with coming up with verbs, download my free verb checklist by clicking the button below.

With your marker or stimulus picture items, glue/write your grammar targets on the bottom plate. You could write the verb on the top plate and then the conjugated verb for present progressive, past tense, third person singular, or future tense on the bottom plate.

More Easy-Prep Grammar Speech Therapy Activities

I have these fun visual supports that you can use with playdough to work on building more complex grammar structures. Read about it HERE and get the free printable.

You can also use Simon’s Cat videos to work on LOTS of verbs and grammar. I usually pair these videos with my FREE graphic organizer that you can find HERE.

What materials, books, or resources do you use to work on grammar in speech therapy? Share in the comments. If you make these fun paper plates in therapy, I would love to see pics. Just tag me on Instagram @thedabblingspeechie.

Speech Therapy Ideas With Beach Balls!

Speech Therapy Ideas With Beach Balls!

Today, I want to share how to use beach balls in speech therapy. Don’t you love using toys/materials that are easy to find and under $5? I do. During this time of year, you can find beach balls at most stores, especially places like the Dollar Spot or Dollar Tree. Most kids love playing with balls. Beach balls are light weight and won’t likely break something.

How to use beach balls in speech therapy to make lessons engaging during the summer months! #slpeeps #schoolslp #speechtherapy #speechies #slp2b

Beach Ball Crafts For Kids

I saw this idea for a beach ball craft for kids on pinterest from Glued To My Crafts and thought it could make a great speech therapy activity!

Beach Ball Language Therapy Ideas

Work on visually showing your students how conjunction words connect two sentences together.

How to use beach balls in speech therapy to make lessons engaging during the summer months! #slpeeps #schoolslp #speechtherapy #speechies #slp2b

Take your therapy outside and go on a language challenge! Place the beach ball in various locations on the playground. Before the students can pick it up, they have to make a sentence about the beach ball such as “The beach ball is on the steps.”

How to use beach balls in speech therapy to make lessons engaging during the summer months! #slpeeps #schoolslp #speechtherapy #speechies #slp2b

Work on answering “who” “what” and “where” questions with the beach ball. Some of my students with more significant language impairments struggle with understanding the meaning of the question words. I start with teaching these question words in very simple and visual ways. For example, you can use the students in the group and have one student hold the beach ball. Then, you can ask “Who is holding the beach ball?” If your student needs support even with the choices, you can visually cue the student.

speech therapy beach balls

Put velcro dots (amazon affiliate link) on your beach ball and put articulation pics, category pics or any vocabulary words on the beach ball with velcro. You can put my FREE category visual cards on a beach ball with the velcro dots. Have the kids name category items as they take the pictures off the beach ball.

Use Beach Balls To Increase Functional Communication

Use a student’s communication device or low tech communication boards to target CORE vocabulary. You can target MORE, GO, ON, OFF, WANT, LIKE while playing with the beach ball.

-Throw the beach ball back and forth working on my/your turn with CORE boards.

-Throw the beach ball “up, down, over, under” or against the wall in your speech room.

-Teach different verbs with the beach ball such as “throw”, “toss”, “roll”, and “hit”.

-Play bowling with the beach ball to work on “up/down, again, all done.”

Play Beach Ball Simon Says

I love using the game Simon Says to teach “verbs” and “basic concepts”. It is also great for teaching basic turn taking in conversation, following another person’s plan and initiating communication.

How to use beach balls in speech therapy to make lessons engaging during the summer months! #slpeeps #schoolslp #speechtherapy #speechies #slp2b

Beach balls and pool noodles are great materials for having students demonstrate “basic concepts”. In the picture below, I show how you can use pool noodles and a beach ball to show “between”.

How to use beach balls in speech therapy to make lessons engaging during the summer months! #slpeeps #schoolslp #speechtherapy #speechies #slp2b

Beach Balls in Speech Therapy – Ideas From Other SLPs

SLP Natalie Snyders has three easy ideas for how to use beach balls in speech therapy that you can check out HERE.

3 easy ways to use beach balls in speech language therapy

Need an idea for your social skill groups? I love how Crazy Speech World made this fun conversation activity with a beach ball that you can check out HERE.

What are your Beach Ball Speech Therapy Ideas?

I would love to know if you have any speech therapy ideas using beach balls? Share your idea in the comments below.

Need more speech therapy ideas for specific materials/toys? Here are some more blog posts I have written on specific toys or materials:

Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head In Speech Therapy

How To Use My Little House In Speech Therapy

10 Toys That Promote Functional Communication

How To Adapt Lids ‘N Lizards In Speech Therapy

Top Tips for Using Sentence Strips In Speech Therapy

Top Tips for Using Sentence Strips In Speech Therapy

Today, I want to share how to use sentence strips in speech therapy with your entire caseload! Have you ever worked with a student not getting the speech or language skills you were working on in speech therapy?

You frantically grab a post-it note and write a visual sentence strip related to your student’s speech or language goal. With some prompting and modeling with the sentence strip visual, your student begins seeing success with the concept. At the end of the school day, you have mini post-it notes tabbed in speech folders, on your therapy binder, or stuck to your table.

Today, I want to share how to use sentence strips in speech therapy with your entire caseload! And I Have a solution for never writing carrier phrases on post-it notes again.

Amazon affiliate links are included in this blog post for your convenience. I receive a small commission when you use a link to purchase an item. 

What are sentence strips?

Not sure what is a sentence strip? This blog post will give you tips for how to use them in speech therapy.

If you are new to sentence strips, they are visual supports that provide a sentence starter to help students create a complete thought or sentence. Visual supports often give a framework for organizing thoughts and ideas. Typically, you write the beginning of the sentence visually for students and provide a dash or box to show them where to add new words. Get your free set of speech sound mats with visual strips HERE

Benefits of Using Sentence Strips for Speech Therapy

When your students are learning a new skill, it is cognitively overwhelming. By providing a visual sentence strip, you can remove distractions so your students can focus on the skill.

You are breaking down a big skill, so your students have a framework to approach the concept or activity. As your students grow in their automaticity with the speech or language goal, you can fade away the use of the sentence strip.

For example, when teaching a child to make inferences, there are many components to that skill. First, you have to look for clues. Then, you have access to your background knowledge. And, last, you have to apply the clues and knowledge to formulate a guess about the picture or text.

Providing a sentence starter to help your student explain their inference removes the cognitive demand to organize their thoughts. A sentence strip for an inferencing goal may be “I think the character is feeling ______ because ________.”

Why I Love Sentence Strips in Speech Therapy

I love using sentence strips to help my students have a structured way to practice their speech and language goals.

When I see a student struggling with practicing a particular skill, I can quickly provide a visual cue without taking much time from the therapy session. Here are some reasons you gotta start using these in therapy:

  • Teachers use sentence frames, so you are aligning with the classroom environment
  • ELL learners benefit from the use of sentence frames
  • These scaffolding visuals help students practice the listening and speaking common core standards
  • More repetitions with speech or language goals because you are stopping less between trials
  • Creates more independence and less verbal prompting

How to Make Visual Sentence Strips

You can write your sentences on your whiteboard, a post-it note, magnetic dry erase strips, or lined paper strips. Or, you can create them in PowerPoint or Google Slides. On apps that allow you to write, you can also digitally write them on the screen. 

But, the only drawback to using some of these methods is listed as follows:

  • You forgot what sentence starter you wrote the last session on the whiteboard
  • There aren’t visual pictures for kids who are not yet reading
  • And it’s tricky to find the visual you need when you serve a LOT of different goals

Have Your Visual Sentence Strips in One Spot

Because you serve a large caseload, having access to your visuals at any given moment in the session is key! If you have a lot of goals for the following treatment areas, check out the Sentence Strip Visuals for Speech and Langauge Goals Resource:


  • Articulation and phonology
  • Sound-loaded carrier phrase level
  • Pronouns and noun-verb agreement
  • Third person singular
  • Present, past, and future verb tense
  • Describing nouns by attributes
  • Comparing and contrasting
  • Inferencing and predicting
  • Social communication
  • Speech fluency

Not only do you get the sentence strip printables for all these skills, but you also get a no-print PDF that is linked so that you can have visuals on your computer or iPad. Switching between goals is easy!


And, you have 5 picture words for speech sounds so you can take progress monitoring data or use with the sentence frames.

Speech Therapy Sentence Strip Activities

If you need some ideas with how to start incorporating sentence strips, here are some ideas:


  • Create an I Spy sensory bin with mini trinkets and use the items with sound-loaded carrier phrases.
  • Grab your verb action photo cards or real photo vocabulary flashcards and work on describing by attributes.
  • Read any book and work on describing the characters actions using the grammar sentence strips
  • Look at real photos or wordless short videos and make inferences and predictions
  • Progress monitor speech sound goals using the carrier phrases and picture word lists
  • Pair with crafts. Students can glue or write their speech or language targets on the craft and then practice using the sentence strip
  • Incorporate the sentence strips into your play-based speech therapy sessions
Get tips for how to use speech therapy sentence strips in any activity!