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:
Raise your hand if you love doing camping speech therapy activities!?
I do! I do!
Many children go camping during the summer months with their families and friends. As speech therapists, we have an opportunity to bring in themed therapy lessons that are relatable to student experiences. This process helps them use context to access vocabulary words and build skills with narration. In this case, camping is often filled with fun and adventure, so chances are high that this theme will keep your students engaged! Today, I want to inspire you with some camping speech therapy activities that are stress free and highly rewarding for your students! Pick a book a week for up to four weeks while targeting goals and focusing on the fun of camping!
Did you know…..?
One study found that children who come from low-income backgrounds showed improvements with learning new vocabulary when exposed to the words at least 12 times.* Students with language disorders needed at least 6 instructional exposures to the word per session over 6 sessions (36 exposures) to really learn the word. The study tried to do more higher levels of intensity with teaching vocabulary and found that the children didn’t make as many gains.
Based on this study, 36 exposures to vocabulary is a good place to aim when building vocabulary!
Camping Books For Speech Therapy
There are a lot of camping books for speech therapy that you can use to incorporate into your sessions (amazon affiliate links included for your convenience). This is a great way to teach themed camping vocabulary words with pictures!
Here are some of my favorite camping themed books for speech therapy:
Need more summer book recommendations? Head over to this blog post for more suggestions.
Structuring Your Lessons Around Books
When you first work with your student, read the book straight through without stopping for questions. You can point to things in the pictures, but do not ask your student to share his or her thoughts. After reading the story, you can plan a theme-based lesson using the targeted vocabulary from the books to reach your pre-set goals.
Another option for your first session is a book walk. This process includes encouraging students to make inferences about what they think the book will be about just by looking at the pictures. Look at the cover of the book and make inferences about what the book is going to be about. Talk about who might be the characters, where the story may take place and what time of year it could be happening.
Structuring The Next Two Sessions With Books
The second session, you can read the story to your speech therapy students and stop every once and a while for questions.
The third session you may be using the pictures from the story to work on oral narration, language comprehension or having a discussion about what they liked about the book. You can use the pictures in the book to target inferencing/prediction, perspective taking, adding on what might happen if the story continued, work on grammar structures, answering wh-questions about the story/picture, and using the vocabulary words in sentences.
Camping Speech Therapy Activities
Here are some camping speech therapy activities that you can do as extension activities to work on articulation, fluency, grammar, vocabulary, wh-questions, and social skills.
Pretend Play that you are camping. Act out roasting marshmallows, building a fire, reading a book in a tent (under the table–lol), going fishing, telling a campfire story, making hot dogs, etc. Here is a pretend play camping set by Melissa and Doug (amazon affiliate). Etsy has SOOOOO many cute felt camping play sets for camping.
Use the themed camping vocabulary to play “Who has the marshmallow?” or Simon Says Preposition Camping games to practice basic concepts and answering “who” questions while using the themed vocabulary.
Play a guessing game using camping vocabulary. I like to call the game Mystery Word Game. You or the student can give a clue and students have to make a guess what the item is. Then, another clue is given and so forth! If you want the FREE Mystery Word Game printable, you can access it HERE.
Talk about the expected and unexpected behaviors when you go camping. Work on what you need to pack for camping and what might happen if you didn’t bring that item! Role play social situations that might happen while camping, such as when your dad asks you to help set up the tent.
Make a google slide presentation that has real pictures from camping. Work on answering wh-questions, acting out camping actions such as “fishing, roasting, building, eating, sitting, hiking, etc.”. Put links to your favorite camping songs, or YouTube videos on how to make s’mores. I have a google slide presentation all set up in my camping push-in language lesson plan guides that have book recommendations, lesson plan cheat sheet, extension activities, YouTube links to movement breaks and read alouds, and a google slide!
Camping Speech Therapy Activities For Older Students
Watch a YouTube video or use how to make a s’more sequencing cards to work on sequencing steps of a process. Make real s’mores if you are up to doing that! You can target so many language skills.
Find reading passages, or YouTube videos about forest animals, How Wildfires Help by Scishow kids or anything related to camping such as How To Set Up A Tent. You can target main idea, vocabulary, grammar, answering wh-questions, sequencing, fluency enhancing techniques and articulation carryover with these topics. These are great “camping” topics for older students.
Camping Speech Therapy Craft Ideas
S’mores are the iconic sweet treat that a lot of families participate in making when they are camping. Why not make a s’mores craft in speech therapy!? You can work on following directions, sequencing the steps for the craft and cover a lot of goals in your mixed groups.
Make a camping lantern and talk about when/why you need a lantern when you are camping. Write or glue speech words, verbs, nouns to the lantern to cover students goals.
Crazy Speech World has a fun DIY camping fire craftivity that is easy to prep and can be adapted to a lot of different goals. To see more details about that craft, check out her blog post HERE.
What camping materials, books or lesson plan ideas do you like to use in your speech therapy sessions?
*Storkel, H.L., Voelmle, K., Fierro, V., Flake, K., Fleming, K.K., Romine, R.S. (2016) Interactive Book Reading to Accelerate Word Learning by Kindergarten Children With Specific Language Impairment: Identifying an Adequate Intensity and Variation in Treatment Response. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools. Advance online publication. doi:10.1044/2016_LSHSS-16-0014.
SLPs are always on the hunt for games to adapt and use in speech therapy sessions. When teaching language concepts, kids get more engaged when vocabulary and grammar is presented in a fun and engaging way. Today, I want to talk about how to use the game Lids ‘N Lizards in speech therapy. I have found a way to make this game festive and fun during certain seasons or holidays during the year! My SLP intern adapted this game back in March using leprechauns & gold coins. Instead of hiding lizards, she hid leprechauns under the lids. The kids loved it! I decided to make other printable items that had the /l/ phoneme to adapt it throughout the year.
Where Can SLPs Get The Lids ‘N Lizards Game?
Lids ‘N Lizards is a game created by Super Duper Publications. You can get it on their website. I also checked Amazon (cause I know SLPs love Amazon) and you can get Lids ‘N Lizards there, too. Sometimes SLPs can find Lids ‘N Lizards at garage sales or Goodwill.
How To Play Lids ‘N Lizards Game
The Lids ‘N Lizard game comes with green metal tins and little lizards. You place magnetic vocabulary pictures on the roof of the metal tins. Then, lay the lids on the table and hide lizards under the metal tins. Students take turns picking up metal tins to see if they found a lizard. If they have a lizard under their tin, they get to keep the lizard. The student with the most lizards at the end of the game wins! Each turn, the student has to describe the picture item that is under the lid. One way to adapt this game for all year long is to put different items under the lids. I made some seasonal printables that you can download for FREE below. Each of the items in the download have /l/, so instead of Lids ‘N Lizards you can call the game Lids ‘N Leprechauns, Lids ‘N Lunchboxes, Lids ‘N Ladybugs and so on!
How To Adapt Lids ‘N Lizards For Mixed Groups
Articulation Goals – Lids ‘N Lizards is the perfect game for students working on /l/, /z/, or /r/ at the word or phrase level. For students working on other sounds, you can create carrier phrases with their sound such as “I found a/an _____” for /f/ or “I spy a/an _______” for s-blends.
Vocabulary Goals – The game is already designed to work on describing common nouns. You can always use lids and magnets to work on naming adjectives, describing by attributes, and answering wh-questions about the items.
Grammar Goals – When a student picks up the picture item, you can have them name the noun’s function or action word. They can use the verb in a sentence such as “The boy eats the ice cream.” Have the student work on past, present or future tense. With the noun picture item, you can also work on marking plurals or having students create a sentence with an adjective or prepositional phrase. The student can also work on marking pronouns by talking “who” has a certain picture item such as “She has the ice cream.” or “Give the truck to him.”
More Goals To Address With The Lids ‘N Lizards In Speech Therapy
Speech Fluency – With all the mentioned articulation and language therapy ideas mentioned above, you can do similar activities while having the student practice their speech fluency strategies.
Social Skills – While playing the game, you can work on students following the social rules of the game. Students can practice having their brain and body thinking about the people in the group. So, they can work on their non-verbal listening skills while the other person is sharing an item and then have to retell what the person said to show that they had their brain in the group. You can also grab a set of problem solving situations or social situations that the student would have to answer before taking a turn at the game.
What Other Ways Can SLPs Use Lids ‘N Lizards In Speech Therapy?
One way that I have used the lids and magnetic pictures is to have students sort items by categories. I just use the lids to have the students sort the items onto the correct category group. This has been very effective for my younger students that need a hands-on experience. How do you adapt this game in speech therapy? Share in the comments! Need more games for your therapy room? Check out some of my favorite games HERE.
Raise your hand if you’re an SLP who plans their lessons by theme! I plan themed lessons because it’s easier to align with the teacher’s curriculum and/or find resources to adapt for my whole caseload. One of my very favorite themed lesson ideas is to use bee activities for elementary speech therapy, especially during the spring.
If you love the idea of using bugs as a theme, these activities can be easily adapted for your upper elementary caseload. There are tons of bee activities for elementary speech therapy out there, but these are a few of my personal favorites. (Bonus: bee themed activities are a great opportunity for SLPs to educate students on the environmental importance of bees!)
Bee Activities For Elementary Speech Therapy
Elementary teachers often cover life cycles in their classrooms. SLPs can align their language lessons with these life cycles using bees. Here is a FREE bee life cycle activity that SLPs can use from TPT. Need more life cycle activities with bees? Pinterest and TPT are an absolute treasure trove for life cycle themed activities and crafts.
Elementary teachers also frequently cover insect units. This includes lessons on pollination, in which bees play a significant role. Mystery Science has some great science lessons on pollination (side note: this is one of my new favorite resources). They show videos and walk students through the step by step process for completing the science mystery. Students with language delays benefit from visuals, so this is extra amazing!
DIY Bee Activity Reinforcer Game
When I saw this DIY bee game that Jenn from Crazy Speech World shared about, I knew I had to make one for my bee activities lesson plan. I didn’t have time to paint my hive, but my egg crate still looks like a beehive. I adapted my beehive to have a “stuck in honey” section.
Here’s how it works. If the student bounces the “bee” into the egg crate, they get points according to where they land. When the bee lands in the “honey,” the student loses a turn (alternatively, you can deduct five points.)
This was super fun and I used it across all my elementary grade levels (TK -5th). Crazy Speech World offers even more fun ideas and resources for using bees in speech therapy that you can read all about HERE.
Bee Videos For Elementary Speech Therapy
The best place to look for bee activities for elementary speech therapy is on YouTube! You can find so many great non-fiction videos to teach vocabulary, main idea, compare/contrast, summarizing, and so much more.
Bee Resources & Activities For Elementary Speech Therapy
Scholastic has a whole lesson plan unit on bee activities for elementary students to use for English Language Arts.
Create a bee craft to work on describing the bee’s body parts! This is an amazing craft idea from The Classroom Creative.
Read Works also has free reading passages with “bees” as the focus of the non-fiction informative texts. This is perfect for mixed groups because you can target grammar, main idea, and listening comprehension, and you can work on articulation carryover for /s, z, r, th/.
I love using a monster theme in speech therapy during the October month. There are a lot of fun resources you can use with a monster theme.
Monsters are silly and fun! Monster activities for speech therapy are great for describing by attributes and using in sentences. Some of my monster finds were from amazon, my favorite online place to shop (affiliate links are included in this post).
Monster Activities For Speech Therapy
I like to make fun monster puppets to use in speech therapy. You can either have the kids make them or you can make your own set!
I use the monster puppets to follow directions with basic concepts. When I work on basic concepts with my monsters, I use my playhouse. We can target: on the bed, next to the bed, under the bed, etc.
We also make our own monsters with playdoh! These are perfect for describing by attributes, singular/plural verb tenses and noun/verb agreement. The monster has one eyeball. The monster has two eyeballs.
Monster Sticker Book from Peaceable Kingdoms is great for following directions while building your own monster. You can also work on describing the monster and answer who questions about the monsters.
Make your own monster craft! Cut up different shapes on different colored construction paper and students can design their own monster. You can have all the students create a story about their monster or use the monster to create grammatically correct sentences. Here are some FREE printables from Somewhat Simple.
Create a monster sensory bin! Here is an example from The Chaos and Clutter. I think it would be really fun for my little guys and gals.
Monster Bowling by Melissa and Doug can be a great reinforcer for any skill. Your students working on functional communication can work on requesting more, waiting, and making comments such as “I knock down.”
Twist and Match Monster Game from Learning Resources can be adapt to describe monsters by attributes or have one student give directions to another student about what monster to create.
What monster activities do you love to do in therapy? I would love to know! If your are looking for more Halloween ideas, check out what I did last year HERE. I am a big fan of Halloween crafts that can be paired with lots of books that you can check out HERE (free craft template printables).
Have you had a student on your caseload with category goals? Do you feel limited with the amount of resources you have for teaching categories? Wonder where to start therapy? Incorporating interactive category activities to build language skills is a great way to approach vocabulary development. Teaching categories is very relevant to the child’s vocabulary development.
Why is teaching categories important?
Teaching categories in speech therapy is important for vocabulary development. When we teach vocabulary words in “groups”, SLPs can create schema for the students to understand those words. Grouping items provides a familiar setting for students to organize and understand words. As a student puts words in “groups”, they learn to associate others words for that specific group. Someone with typically developing language may associate waves, sand, seagulls, beach towels, sand castles with the group “beach”. When students know the category group nouns belong in, they have one more way to describe that noun. An apple is a fruit. A shirt is a piece of clothing. A bus is transportation item.
Learning Categorization Skills Can Be Difficult For Students With Language Impairments
Visual cues and prompts help with categorization.
Physically manipulating and touching objects can make a categorization activity more meaningful.
Rules must be meaningful and relate to a categorization activity.
Self-talk can is a strategy that helps with organization in categorization activities.
Assessing Your Student’s Category Abilities
Assessing your student’s category abilities can help you determine where to begin in speech therapy. When you are doing an initial assessment, you can definitely find some of these areas of weakness with our standardized assessments. Once I determine eligibility for services in the areas of a language disorder, I look to see what subtests the student scored poorly on. I will give some informal assessments to gather some baseline data for writing goals in the areas of vocabulary. Knowing category groups is important for later describing and defining vocabulary words.
How to plan and organize your therapy for teaching categories
It is important to get a baseline of where you student is performing with his/her understanding of word relationships. If you are finding that a student isn’t able to name categories independently, you can gather other information by assessing sorting skills and matching identical objects and pictures.
Match identical objects and pictures
Sort a group of objects or pictures into two identical sets
Sort a group of objects by one feature
Choose an item to match a given category description or name
Sort into 2 and 3 categories
What doesn’t belong and why
What goes together and why
Name multiple items of a given category
Express similarities and differences
Considerations When Deciding Where To Start With Teaching Categories
Some of our students may struggle with understanding category groups because they have NOT experienced the vocabulary in real life. If your student hasn’t been to the beach, then your student may not know to associate bucket, umbrella and boogie board as items in the beach category. This may be a factor when picking which categories to target with students. Taking baseline assessment can really help with narrowing down where to begin. Based on your probes, you can see what category groups your students understand and don’t understand. Also, consider introducing those early developing categories such as shapes, colors and food for students struggling with the concept of categorizing.
How To Decide What Level To Start With Students
Let’s say your student is able to sort a group of objects or pictures into two identical sets with 80% accuracy without any prompts. When you asked them to sort a group of objects by one features, they needed visual cues at 40% accuracy. Since mastery is below 80% accuracy, sorting items into groups by one feature probably is a good place to start in therapy. As your students increase their correct accuracy, you can move to harder category activities, or change the group objects to new category groups.
Category Activities To Build Language
All About Category Flipbooks– I created two category themed flipbooks for my caseload last year. The first one comes with 20 different category groups and 15-20 stimulus visuals to help with naming items in a category. This first book can be paired with any language lesson and can also be used to have the students follow directions such as “put a circle around all the red fruits”. The second book comes with interactive activities that work on matching items that go together and determining which items do not belong.
No Prep Category Activities– If you are a busy SLP that doesn’t have time to prep, these activities are interactive and just print n’ go. You can do cut n’ glue for what belongs, “I spy” coloring sheets for categories and coloring the correct items in categories with a 3 and 4 item field.
FREE category visuals– Many of my students need visual supports when learning categories. You can grab these visuals in my TPT store and use them for bean bag toss games or for sorting items onto the visual cards.
Check out my “I Spy” sensory bin that I use to work on categories as an extension activity after I do direct instruction. Click the pink button below to grab the free category printables. Want to know how to make an “I Spy” sensory bin? Head to this post.
Categories Language Cards– Category sorting tasks requires a lot of pictures! These are helpful and on amazon (affiliate link included)
With students who are exhibiting moderate-severe deficits with their receptive and expressive language skills in the areas of categories, breaking down word-relationships is important for your students to understand the skill.
I created leveled category activities to help me collect accurate baselines of what my students CAN do when understanding word-relationships. This has helped me plan achieveable therapy activities, take better data and know how to plan as my students progress. Here is the Leveled Up Basic Categories and Leveled Up Early Elementary Categories.
Category Activities With Apps
Categories From I Can Do apps-I love using this app to get baseline data for how students are currently doing with identifying what doesn’t belong and which items go together.
Smarty Ears Go Together APP– This app works on categorization through matching. You can also have the students explain why the items go together after matching them up!
Smarty Ears Categories Learning Center– This app is great to have because it has different levels to use, so you can differentiate for your students. As your students progress in the categorization levels, you can make things more difficult!
What resources do you have that you really love for working on categorizing?
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