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.
Teaching Methods That Will Increase Your Student’s Expressive Grammar Skills
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.
Easy Ways to Use Spring Vocabulary 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.
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?”
Using Spring Vocabulary to Build Grammatically Correct 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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:
Over the years, I have seen the benefit of using sentence starter strips in speech therapy with my language impaired students. A lot of my students with language delays need visual supports to help them build longer utterances. Using sentence starter strips in speech therapy provides a visual framework for organizing their thoughts. Many of my speech students receptively know what they want to say, but struggle with expressively communicating those ideas in a clear and concise way.
Using Sentence Starter Strips In Speech Therapy
Many of my speech students receptively know what they want to say, but struggle with expressively communicating those ideas in a clear and concise way. For our students with language impairments processing language can be very daunting and overwhelming. We as SLP’s can lighten that language load by incorporating visual sentence strips in therapy.
Why I love using sentence starter strips in speech
Sentence starter strips are easy to make and don’t require a ton of prep. This is an amazing thing for the busy SLP! I love that I can prep this in under 10 minutes for my therapy groups and can use it over and over again for my groups. When I use bright colored paper or sentence strips that have visual picture supports, my students become more engaged in the activity. You can adapt the sentence starter strips for your lesson, so you can easily write a sentence starter that relates to the topic you are discussing. The other reason I love sentence starter strips is that I can align them with the speaking and listening standards. Our students are now required to express their opinion, ask questions, and share the reasons behind their thoughts. When I observe general education classrooms, I see A LOT of sentence starters around the room. This is a scaffolding technique that a lot of teachers use to help student’s become more efficient writers. When we target this with oral language, we are building the language piece that writing involves. There is also research that shows students who are English Learners benefit from the use of sentence frames or sentence starters.
How I use sentence starter strips in speech therapy
In the photo above, I created a sentence with some blank spots where I want the student to fill in the answer. For example, if I had a picture of the word grasshopper, I would have 1-3 sentence strips. The student could say “A grasshopper belongs in the insect category. A grasshopper can be used for eating other bugs. It has antennae, legs, eyes and a body and can be found in nature.”
Use What You Have In Your Speech Room
I grab a deck of Artic Photo Cards Fun Decks From Super Duper or artic/language cards from my TPT resources to use with the sentence starter strips. This is a perfect way to target both articulation and language goals if you have mixed groups! Sentence starter strips are also great for teaching prepositional phrases and conjunctions. One of the easiest places to find stimulus items for teaching prepositional phrases and conjunctions is google images! If I have time, I usually will search google images for pictures that I want and cut and paste them into a powerpoint. Then, I use those images along with my sentence strips as a therapy lesson. I love having sentence strips for inferencing, predicting, explaining opinion and discussing the main idea.
Storing Sentence Starter Strips
When you find yourself scribbling the same sentence frames on scratch paper during your speech sessions, it usually means that it might be good to have a permanent set of sentence frames that you can grab n’ go for your sessions. This is what I kept running into, so instead of writing sentence frames on my post it notes, I decided to use some multi-colored sentence strips I found in my speech room. One skill I work on a lot is describing nouns by attributes. I usually start with 1-3 attributes depending on the student’s skills. You can find these sentence strips on on amazon and you get 75 in the pack (amazon affiliate link). Let’s talk storage! I like to use Pocket Charts to storage my sentence strips and to use during instruction. I just found these Classroom Sentence Strip Storage Box on Amazon that could also be helpful for storage! I recommend getting different colored sentence strips to visually show different skills or use different colored markers.
How do you use sentence starter strips in speech therapy?
Every SLP needs resources on how to implement effective grammar intervention because half our caseloads have goals in this area!
Much of my career as a speech therapist has been working with students that have goals targeting grammar. I have seen that many children with deficits with grammar, often times, have language deficits in other areas such as vocabulary, oral comprehension and story narration.
Today, I wanted to share about some articles I have found that talk about strategies for implementing effective grammar intervention.
Information about Implementing Effective Grammar Intervention
What I found when reading these different articles is there is not a “must use this technique always” when targeting grammar. There is however, some really good guidelines that researchers have found to be helpful when you, the clinician are creating a treatment plan.
Fey, M.E., Long, S.H., Finestack, L.H. (2003). Ten principles of grammatical intervention for children with specific language impairments. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 12: 3-15
Some of the principles shared in the article are as follows:
The function of improving a child’s expressive grammar is so that they can have better language to effectively communicate whether orally or in written form. Thus, we should be targeting skills that will help improve their communication (a tip for writing/choosing goals) or help them to make progress with common core standards and academic activities.
A clinician may get more “bang for their buck” if they target grammar by broad grammar patterns verses “isolated” grammar targets.
“When grammar is targeted, it should be treated in ways that lead to improvements in other domains, such as storytelling, comprehension and expression of expository text, and reading comprehension.”
Grammar Intervention Research Article
A randomized clinical trial looked at two grammar treatment procedures of recasting and a cuing hierarchy in 31 five year olds to see which treatment would yield better results.
Here is what they found:
First off, the very fancy term “recasting” is simply the clinician implicitly responding to a child’s response with the correct grammar and sometimes emphasizing the correct word like, “I really love cookiessssss too.” This technique helps keep the flow of conversation going without having to stop and correct the child. (you’re welcome for learning a big fancy speech therapy word…now go sprinkle that into your IEP meetings to impress some folk
In the study, when a child in the recast group made a grammar error, the SLP would do a “recast” and move on with the lesson, using recasting every time there was an error.
With the cueing group, when the child made an error, the SLP went through a hierarchy of scaffolding techniques to work on having the child correctly produce the grammar structure.
The overall study found that the cueing group made more growth then the recasting group.
So, children with speech and language impairments appear to be responding to implicit grammar intervention that provides cueing and allowing the child to say the sentence again to correct his/her error.
The Effectiveness of Two Grammar Treatment Procedures for Children With SLI: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, October 2015, Vol. 46, 312-324. doi:10.1044/2015_LSHSS-14-0041 Karen M. Smith-Lock, Suze Leitão, Polly Prior, and Lyndsey Nickels
Practical Strategies For Grammar Intervention
Now, time for the practical tips for implementing these findings! I typically will do 0ne-two structured therapy sessions filled with cueing and explicitly teaching the grammar components that I want to target. It will include visuals sentence strips, visuals of the rules, worksheets, lots of modeling, and having the student trying to correctly use the grammar rule.
Then, my next two sessions are filled with activities that the child may be asked to do in the classroom. Basically, working on generalizing or applying the skill into a more complex task. Often times, I will use books, story telling, answering wh-questions, describing nouns by attributes, play activities (i.e. play dough, cars, tea party, etc.) or describing picture scenes to work on grammar. During this time, I am modeling, expanding, and “recasting” (it feels good word dropping fancy terms here). I feel like these sessions allow me to also let them hear correct grammar modeled to them, which seems important to the process.
My Parts of Speech Sentence Flips are a great tool to use as a warm up to build mastery of LOTS of different grammar. These sentence flips have a lot of opportunities for clinicians to cue the student with the correct grammar.
My Parts of Speech Flashcard books are a great tool to use as a quick warm up as well or send home as homework. Once assembled, students can create grammatically correct sentences with visual supports.
Sentence Frame Graphic Organizer (FREE) is a great tool to use with any book, youtube video or a picture. It provides color coded columns to sort different parts of speech. This is a great tool to start building more complex sentences and beginning to introduce written language.
My Student Language Helpers are visual supports that you can make with two file folders glued or stapled together. You can then glue all the different parts of speech to the helper. The student can use this in the speech room or even in the classroom to help when writing sentences!
My seasonal themed vocabulary and grammar resource allows me to used seasonal vocabulary to practice grammar concepts as well as work on other skills such as wh-questions, compare/contrast and describing by attributes. These activities and visuals pair well with all of my seasonal books that I like to bring into the therapy room.
What resources for implementing effective grammar intervention do you use? What techniques and research have you found for this intervention? I would love to add more tools to my tool belt! Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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