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?
Do you remember playing with Mr. Potato Head as a kid? It was one of those toys that kept me busy for hours. Mr. Potato Head is a great toy to invest in for your speech therapy room. If you work with the prek-2nd grade crowd, this is for sure a crowd pleaser!
Why you should get a Mr. Potato Head For Speech Therapy
I love finding toys, games and resources that I can re-use over and over again in therapy. If I can think of MANY ways to use a toy in therapy, it is a winner in my book. So often, SLPs have mixed groups and need to adapt activities to incorporate articulation, fluency, social skills and language goals. It is truly an art to manage all that! Mr. & Mrs. Potato head allow students to explore, manipulate things with their hands, be creative and practice pretend play skills. When you have all those ingredients, a child’s willingness to communicate increases a TON!
1. For my students working on turn taking and collaborative play, I give the box filled with body parts to one student and the potato to the other student. One student has to initiate with the peer to get the items that he/she would like to add to the potato head. We work on making comments after a friend asks for an item.
This activity can teach the expected social rules, turn taking, taking in the group, following your peer’s plan vs. your own plan and so much more!
2. Work on body parts! This is a early developing category group that children should learn. Have the students request the item that they want for their potato head. You can work on the noun-function for each body part, where you can find certain clothing items and where clothing items belong on the potato’s body.
3. Target descriptive language with teaching adjectives. Describing items by color is an easy way to build adjectives and MLU! For example, you can have the students say “Mr. Potato Head has blue shoes.”
4. Work on “who” questions with Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head. First, have your therapy group request and work with their peers to build the Mr. and Mrs. Potato Heads. Then, find items in your therapy room to use with the potato heads. I used these fun trinkets from Dinky Doodads to use with this activity. Then, I asked my students “who” questions. For example, I laid out three items between both of the potato heads. I then asked “Who has a donut?” This was a great way to work on the beginning stages of understanding what “who” is asking.
5. Build grammatically correct sentences with noun-verb agreement. For my students with limited MLU’s or grammar errors, I used Mr. Potato Head to work on parts of speech, especially noun-verb agreement.
6. Practice articulation with carrier phrases and sentences. Grab a set of pictures with your student’s sound and have them make sentences with silly Mr. Potato Head sentences. I use sound words from my Any Craft Companion Set. You can do Mr. Potato Head ate ______, Mr. Potato Head sat on a ______ or Mr. Potato Head watched a/an __________.
7. For my students working on basic concepts and following directions, I use Mr. Potato Head a couple of ways. I will hide the body parts around the room. The students have to ask for clues using basic concepts to figure out where I put them. Is there a piece under the table, behind the box, near the door, etc.? I will also work on first, next, last and before and after with my students. Before you put on the pink ears, put on the orange nose. It is a great way to also collect data during the session!
Need more ideas for Mr. Potato Head
If you want some more therapy ideas, I found a blog post from Speech Room News that you can read about HERE! Speech For Kids has a great post too that you can read HERE! How do you like to use Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head in speech therapy? Share in the comments below.
Looking for a fun Easter egg language activity that will get your students up and moving!? If you are TIRED from IEP meetings and writing reports, this festive activity is just what you need to bring back that FUN spark in speech. I needed an Easter egg language activity that would cover a lot of category and describing goals.
Where to find these FUN TRINKETS
I bought these fun trinkets from Dinky Doodads on Etsy for my “I Spy” Sensory bin. I decided to use them to work on building categories and describing skills for common vocabulary. I used the “trinkets” I bought and hid them in Easter eggs (thankfully my SPED teacher had a bunch of eggs on hand).
Want some FREE Category Visuals
I printed these FREE category visuals from my TPT store for the lesson. Then, I hid the eggs all around my speech room. My students had a blast moving around my room looking for Easter eggs. After the group found all the eggs, the kids opened up all the eggs. I had them sort the trinkets into the correct category groups. If my students sorted one in the wrong category we talked about why that item would not belong. We practiced describing the trinkets by attributes using Sentence Starter Strips. You can read about how I use sentence starter strips HERE.
How I organized the Easter Egg Language Activity during my whole class PUSH IN Lesson
When I did my push in lesson, I split the students into groups of 2-3.
They had to share a basket. Guess what that encouraged!? Staying in the group, initiating comments and questions.
Then, the SDC teacher and I split the classroom aides with different groups. So all the staff had a small group.
As the students were hunting for Easter eggs, the adults in the room made sure the students were waiting for each other, initiating questions/comments, helping students stay in the group and take turns.
After the teams found all the eggs in the room, the teams had to work together to open the eggs. Again, the adults withheld and prompted the students to communicate with each other.
I laid all of the category visuals out in front of the groups on the floor. Then, the students had to walk over the visuals to put the trinket in the correct category. I did this to all for more movement while learning.
My students LOVED this activity! They were all engaged and the spontaneous language opportunities were high. It was great seeing the staff work along side the students to encourage language. If you cannot celebrate Easter at your site or school, I encourage you to do this activity with a chicken theme! Just tell your students that a wild chicken went loose in your room and LAID EGGS everywhere! You need their help finding all the eggs.
What activities have you done with a chicken or Easter theme that your students loved? I would love to hear about it! Email me at email@example.com or leave a comment below!
Speech pathologists are the kings and queens of adapting materials to meet the communication needs of their students. The BEST way to address multiple goals is to brainstorm as many ways as you can for that one therapy item. Today I am going to be showing you how to use the popular game Apples To Apples in your speech therapy sessions.
Where can you find Apples To Apples?
I am an amazon girl (hence, the amazon affiliate links lol). That’s usually where I look for games. If you are all about amazon prime, you can get Apples To Apples Junior Edition or Big Picture Apples To Apples (this is on my wishlist). My second place to look is Target. When I am on a bargain hunt I will go shopping at Goodwill.
How to play Apples To Apples?
This game is pretty easy to play. Players take turns being the judge. The judge begins each round by playing a Green Apple card that features a one-word characteristic, such as Crunchy, Smelly, or Excellent. The other players must then look at the Red Apple cards in their hands and select a red card that they think best describes the judge’s green card. The judge gets to pick the red card that they think is the best representation of the describing word. The person picked gets to keep the green card. Whoever gets the most green cards wins!
How to adapt Apples To Apples in Speech Therapy?
Gina Moriarty, MS CCC-SLP shared an idea in a group I run with Hallie Sherman from Speech Time Fun on facebook. It is called Dabbling With Speech Fun. It is open to all SLP’s. We host giveaways, share therapy ideas, and keep things FUN for the busy SLP.
Anyways, Gina has a fabulous way she uses Apples to Apples in speech therapy. Here are her ideas:
Practice identifying/naming parts of speech practice: nouns, adjectives, synonyms.
Reverse the directions! Instead, the judge puts a red noun card down and everyone gets 5 green cards. The students have to use the best adjective to describe the noun. (LOVE IT)!
I love calling everything a “challenge”. Sounds way more FUN than telling the students we are doing an activity. The students have to come up with a word opposite for the apples to apples game cards.
Play Minute To Win It Challenges with the students in your speech therapy group. Have them come up with as many words for the describing word in a minute. The person with the most words wins! You can always facilitate this as a whole group if the kids have spelling needs and see if they can beat their score.
Have students sort the red cards into the different “describing” word piles. This helps work on a critical attribute feature and antonyms.
Your articulation students can brainstorm things that are messy, interesting, famous and speedy either by placing the red cards in piles or just simply writing a list! I had my /s/ friends make sentences after they brainstormed. For example, “A room is messy. Flies are messy. A scientist is messy.”
This can be adapted for mixed language groups working on describing, grammatical structures and expanding utterances with prepositional phrases and adjectives.
How to use Apples To Apples to target Social Skills
Use any of the ideas mentioned above, but split the students into groups. During the activity the students have to talk with their partner and/or group. Skills that you can teach during any lesson:
voice volume for the social situation
sharing opinion, asking clarification questions, and accepting/rejecting a person’s idea
accepting rejection from a judge in the game
I also love this idea for assigning “jobs” to the game. You can read about this idea at Lunch Buddies Plus.
How do you adapt Apples To Apples in your speech room? Email me a firstname.lastname@example.org if you have an idea! I would love to add it to this post.