This week we played a REALLY fun word game that targeted LOTS of describing skills. I even found a way to adapt it for some of my articulation students. Word games for kids are the best way to get engagement with vocabulary building. When you say “game”, the kids feel like they are having fun and not realizing how much thinking they are doing! This word game also incorporates inferencing and critical thinking skills.
Word Games For Kids- Mystery Word
I used picture cards from myHedBanz Game(amazon affiliate link) to help my younger students think of a noun for the mystery word. There are also these really coolLearning Resources Basic Vocabulary Photo Cards(amazon affiliate link included for your convenience) that would be awesome to use as well! For my older students, we just brainstormed without pictures.
I made a detective game board to keep track of each player’s points. You can assign one of the students to be the “points keeper”. These Reusable Dry Erase Pockets are amazing because I only have to print one game sheet to use over and over.
To play this word game, the clinician and/or one of the students in the groups is in charge of choosing a mystery word. Pick a word and write it down where the students cannot see it.
Then, give clue #1 to the group. So if we picked “donut”. Clue #1 would be “dessert group”. Each student can take a guess of the mystery word item. Praise the students who make a “smart guess” for guessing a word that is in the correct category. Quiz the students if a guess such as “pizza” would be a smart guess and why it would or would not be a smart guess. Give clue #2 such as “You eat it. You can deep fry it. You can put frosting on it.” Allow for students to make a guess. If a student’s smart guess is correct, then they would earn 4 points. Continue giving clues until someone in the group guesses correctly.
The person with the most points at the end of the session wins! Have the student describe the noun in complete sentences after the mystery word has been revealed!
I adapted this game for my students working on /s/ by having them say the carrier phrase “I guess the item is……….” to work on final /s/. With my /r/ students, I only picked words that contained /r/! How could you adapt this game to make it funcitonal for your mixed groups? Share in the comments.
Use this Speech Therapy Language Game in Teletherapy
You can also use this game digitally in your teletherapy sessions using the Google Slides™ presentation included in the free download (click the pink button above to grab.)
You can use the Mystery Word Game as your weekly warmup lesson. Pick a word of the week and students can what the word is based on the clues. Or, you can create many mystery words and have it last as a digital game for weeks!
The Google Slides have linked buttons, so it is easier to navigate the Clue slides during the game. If you are wanting techy tips on how to use Google Slides, check out this YouTube tutorial with all the tips!
Watch the YouTube video below to see how to add images to the Google Slide presentation.
I would love to see your games in action! Make sure to tag me on Instagram @thedabblingspeechie
This game should increase that engagement in your sessions and you don’t have to feel guilty that you are playing a game because it is working on their goals!
Looking for more Google Slide Game Templates? My digital speech and language Google Slide templates include as a Memory, Tic Tac Toe, and 4-in-a-row templates so that you can customize for your caseload. Check it out in my TPT store (there are also templates included to help you plan therapy, organize your materials digitally, and make digital speech and language folders for your students.
What’s more fun to young kids than playing with toy food items? They love using play food to engage in activities like playing house. Harness that interest for your speech therapy sessions! This is why toy food sets can be so engaging for our speech students! These play food items allow students to interact with you and do pretend play, all the while allowing you to work on a variety of different speech and language skills with them. I’m sharing 10 skills you can focus on with toy foods below, so keep reading to get all of my suggestions!
Where Can I Buy Play Food for My Speech Room?
There are a few different play food options available online. One of them is even from Melissa and Doug, so you don’t have to worry about the quality of those items! All of the ones I’m suggesting below can be found on Amazon, but you might be able to find them at stores like Target, too. The links below are Amazon affiliate links for your convenience.
Build Vocabulary While Using Play Food in Speech Therapy
You can use play food to compare and contrast items by attribute features. While you are playing with the food, you can discuss the different category groups for food items, function, size, shape, color, where you buy/store it, what meals you use the food for, parts and textures. I love using my visual sentence frames to help my students explain similarities and differences between foods.
For your students not ready to work expressively with comparing and contrasting, have your students “sort” food into different groups. For example, you can sort chewy vs. crunchy foods, hot vs. cold, sweet vs. sour foods.
Being able to see and touch the play food while doing this language activity makes it engaging for your students too!
How to Use Play Food in Speech Therapy
A toy food set can be used to target so many speech and language skills! Listed below are some of my favorite ways to engage children in these skills:
Have one student prepare a meal for another student. One student can practice his/her articulation, vocabulary, grammar while telling the student what to do to prepare the meal.
Sequence the steps for setting a table, cleaning the kitchen, shopping at the grocery store, or making a meal. Sequence how to make a hamburger, sandwich, cake, etc.
Following directions and basic concepts with the food and utensils.
Sort food by sub-categories: desserts, fruit, vegetables, breakfast, dinner, meat, etc. Then, describe the food by attributes (size, shape, colors, parts, texture, etc.)
Work on “who” and “where” questions. Give different food items to students and ask, “Who has a brownie?”
Asking and answering wh-questions while playing with the food.
Play pretend restaurant to work on social skills, articulation carryover, and language.
Plan a dinner party or birthday party.
Practice manners while eating.
Work on inferencing by giving the kids clues about the food item and they have to guess the food.
Need a cheat sheet guide to help you with targeting wh- questions, Tier II vocabulary, articulation, basic concepts, adjectives, and helpful therapy ideas for toys you use during play-based therapy? Grab this Toy Companion Cheat Sheet Guide for Pre-K to 2nd grade and have stimulus targets mapped out for fourteen different toys.
Share How You Use Play Food Toy Set
Do you have a fun way to engage your students with play food in speech therapy? Share in the comments, tag me on Instagram @thedabblingspeechie, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the winter months, I love using The Mitten in Speech Therapy. It is such a versatile book to target speech and language goals. One reason, “The Mitten” is a great book choice for your students with language impairments is because there is a little illustration on each page showing what will happen next. This gives our students a visual cue to help with comprehending the story.
Today, I wanted to share some ways you can use the book to target multiple goals as well as share about some resources you can use as extension activities. This book is such a classic that you can find it at the library, GoodWill or on Amazon (affiliate link).
Speech Therapy Activities for The Mitten Book
There is research that shows when language therapy focuses on a broad range of skills such as vocabulary, grammar, syntax, narrative skills, and inferencing are linked to showing effective outcomes for student’s reading comprehension abilities. As oral language improves, so does reading comprehension, which is what we want to see in our students.
So, using stories to cover all those concepts is an effective way to plan therapy. You can teach your students tier II vocabulary from the story such as attracted, grumbled, commotion and swooped.
After you read the story, your students can act out the words, use them in a sentence within the context of the story, name antonyms/synonyms for the word and create picture friendly definitions.
As you are reading the story outloud to your students, you can conduct think-alouds about the book. A think-aloud is a strategy you can use to demonstrate how you are thinking about the text you are reading. This helps you students to learn the strategies they need to utilize to understand the content they are listening to or reading. You can have your student think-aloud about what the character’s are feeling, making predictions about the story elements and to help your students check to see if they understand what is happening in the story.
Using Sentence Frames with The Mitten in Speech Therapy
As you read each page of the story, you can create visual sentence frames that you want the student to use with the book.
By having one or two sentence frames, this helps reduce the cognitive load for your students. It can help your student to expressively demonstrate their grammar or comprehension skills without feeling overwhelmed with what they have to produce.
A simple sentence frame for “The Mitten” could be, “The ___ went inside the mitten.”
A more complex sentence frame visual could be working on inferencing such as “I predict the ______ will _______ because of ______.”
Place the graphic organizer in a page protector and use it with a dry erase marker. Have you ever tried Ultra Fine Tip dry erase markers? They are the best! You can get them on Amazon (affiliate link).
Adapt The Mitten for AAC Users
One way you can make this book more accessible to your students using AAC is by adding the CORE and FRINGE vocabulary to your book!
Many of your students with moderate language impairments may need the story simplified to help them understand the main parts. These visual sidekicks from The Language Ladies SLP can help you have the visual supports you need to help improve your students’ grammar and vocabulary.
For your students that are struggling with comprehension and need the book adapted, having those visuals to reference while you are reading can be very helpful to increase engagement. When our students understand the language, they are more likely to be excited to participate.
I just attached the visual sidekicks with Velcro Dots that I got on Amazon (affiliate link).
Mittens Sensory Bin for Articulation and Language
After reading the book, “The Mitten” you can work on describing mittens by attributes such as category group, function, parts, textures, where, etc.
You can talk about how mittens come in pairs and why you need them for both hands.
This mittens match-up sensory bin resource allows your students to find “pairs” of items that go together such as word-association, antoynms, and categories. This helps build depth of knowledge for words being taught to our students with language impairments.
For the filler, you can use salt, white play dough, cotton balls, white yarn, cutup white straws, or white pom pom balls.
The Mitten Free Printables for Oral Narration
If you have students that benefit from hands-on activities, I highly recommend downloading these free printables for, “The Mitten.”
You can use them to help your students with story retell, which is an evidence-based practice for improving vocabulary and comprehension. You can also use these visuals to create a sensory bin. An SLP submitted this sensory bin idea. She used ripped up white paper for filler, and a long piece of string to be the mitten. Then, she placed the printables in the bin and worked on oral narration.
While coloring the item that can fit in the mitten, you can talk about mittens by attributes as well as the item the child chose to draw. How would you use this free printable for The Mitten in therapy? Share in the comments.
More FREE Printables for The Mitten to Use in Speech Therapy
Here are some more free printables and activities that you can use with your students to work on language and oral narration with “The Mitten”:
If you work with younger-aged students, then planning play-based speech therapy sessions can help you save time with lesson plans and increase engagement with students!
You can adapt toys to cover multiple goals, so you can use the toy in many of your sessions. I love utilizing a toy or a pretend play theme for many of my mixed group sessions! Adapting materials sparks joy in this SLP.
Today, I wanted to share all about what play-based speech therapy is, how this benefits the child, the stages of play, and tips for how to be a rockstar SLP with play therapy! Ya ready for some practical therapy info? After this blog post, you will be confident with doing play therapy with your students!
What is play-based speech therapy?
Play-based speech therapy is when a speech pathologist (SLP) plans speech and/or language activities around a play toy or activity. The SLP will create opportunities for the child to practice the target skill while enjoying motivating toys and activities that are relevant to the child’s interests.
Children are motivated to engage and communicate when playing with materials of interest.
Play-based therapy helps increase attention and build better positive interactions.
Children learn the social skills necessary for playing with toys and make progress on speech and/or language goals in a naturalistic setting.
The child will make better connections with real-life events and will improve memory.
Types of Play That Can Be Targeted in Play-Based Speech Therapy
Functional play – investigating how common objects work and are used
Construction play – building things with objects
Game play with rules – board games that have a clear set of rules for playing
Outdoor and movement play – activities that involve physical movement
Symbolic, dramatic, and pretend play – common activities are done in everyday life as play
The Five Stages of Play Children Use
Stage I: Onlooker play – watching and observing (under 1 year of age)
Stage II: Solitary play – playing by themselves (between 1-2 years of age)
Stage III: Parallel play – playing near others but not engaging with others (between 2-3 years of age)
Stage IV: Associative play – playing with others but sometimes playing by themselves (between 3-4 years of age)
Stage V: Cooperative play – playing with others and will not continue to play without a partner (above 4 years of age)
Tips for Implementing Play-Based Speech Therapy
Let the child take the lead during the play activity as much as you can without moving away from the target goals. When doing play-based therapy, it is important for it to feel natural and not clinician-directed.
Avoid commands such as, “Say this” during the session. When we put too many demands on students, it takes away from the “play” aspect of therapy. Instead, give 5-10 second wait times after modeling a word or phrase to see if the child initiates a question or a comment.
Find toys and materials that are relevant and interesting to the child. Participation will increase with the right toy.
If the toy/material is motivating for the child, then use it more than one session. Lesson planning will take less time, and students will have more engagement with the skills.
Provide two toys or play options in a session. Allow the child to help make decisions about what he/she wants to play with. Re-introduce toys/materials that were not interesting to the child in the past. They may have a new interest in the toy.
Set a timer and have visual supports for students that need preparation before ending a play session. This will help decrease or eliminate unwanted behaviors during transition times.
Model speech and/or language skills that you want the child to learn. You can show the child how to get a toy that he/she wants, show how to play with a toy, or use a new phrase the child can use while playing.
How to Use Toys in Speech Therapy
If you are needing ideas for toys to use in your speech sessions, I have a lot of blog posts that share how to adapt toys for many goals. Your play-based speech therapy sessions will be easier to plan when you have toys that can be adapted for many activities. Check out these posts:
Do You Struggle with Remembering All the Targets While Playing with Students?
Between managing attention and behavior, as well as working on IEP goals during play, it can be cognitively overwhelming for you as a clinician. We want to maximize those play-based sessions, but it can feel like a workout coming up with relevant targets off the top of our heads. That’s why I created Toy Companion Cheat Sheet Guides for 18 popular toys. It comes with wh- questions to ask, verbs to target (over 36 for each toy), Tier II vocabulary, articulation words to use, carrier phrases, basic concepts, adjectives, and 10 therapy ideas to implement with each toy. Whew! That’s a lot of skills. You will be ready for your therapy in minutes and can even use these to train parents and teachers with how to use toys in a functional way! Need this in your life like yesterday? Head to my store and grab it HERE.
What Are Your Tips for Play-Based Speech Therapy?
Do you have any tips for implementing play-based speech therapy with your students? Have you found some success with using toys to help your students with complex speech and language needs? I would love to hear your tips!
And, I would love to know your favorite toys or pretend play themes you enjoy using for therapy. Share in the comments or email me at email@example.com with your ideas.
When it comes to childhood memories, I remember spending many afternoons playing with bubbles. There is just something magical about bubbles that kids enjoy. Bubbles are one of those toys that are great to bring out on a spring or summer day. There are so many great ways SLPs can use bubbles in speech therapy.
Bubbles are also near to my heart because they are affordable for SLPs on a budget! This post is filled with all the ways you can utilize bubbles in your speech room.
Where Can You Buy Bubbles for Your Speech Room?
Buy them on Amazon. If you want containers that are no spill, then here are mini ones (Amazon affiliate link) that hold two ounces of bubbles. Or, you can get a bigger container from Fubbles (Amazon affiliate link) that allows you to have multiple wands in the container. Walmart and Target are always my local go-tos for finding bubbles.
It is super esy, and it’s an affordable way to have extra wands on hand for your mixed groups.
Using Bubbles in Speech Therapy With Preschool Children
Bubbles can be used to target so many skills! Listed below are some of my favorite ways to utilize bubbles.
Turn-taking and waiting: Students can practice basic social skill requests and comments while playing with the bubbles.
Play following directions Simon Says: Work on using basic concepts or multi-step directions with bubbles, such as, “Clap your hands and then blow a bubble.”
Use as a reinforcer: The student has to practice target stimulus items and then gets a chance to blow bubbles.
Describe bubbles by attributes.
Make your own wands as a cooperative lesson for ? in the group, being flexible and engaging with peers.
More Ideas for Using Bubbles With Preschoolers
Tape different cards on the wall: Students can say their word or use a carrier phrase with which picture they want to blow the bubbles near. Have students try to blow the bubbles above or below the cards.
Make your own bubbles with your students: Work on sequencing the steps for making the bubbles. Ask your students wh- questions about the process and have them share their opinions about homemade bubbles versus store-bought bubbles.
Answer and teach simple “Who” questions: Who has the wand? Who is popping the bubbles?
Play Red Light, Green Light with bubbles to teach CORE vocabulary for “stop” and “go.”
Build sentence structures: The bubble is floating in the sky. The bubbles are under the table.
Bubbles are a great tool for joint attention and teaching cause and effect. Withhold the bubbles or the wand until the student gives you joint attention.
Have A Cheat Sheet With Skills You Can Target With Bubbles
Bubbles can be used as a play-based therapy tool to target all sorts of verbs, language skills, and articulation/phonology. It can be tough to remember all the targets to hit in a mixed group. That’s why I created cheat sheets to help SLPs. You focus on the therapy with the students rather than worrying about the targets you are going to use in the session. Need toy companion cheat sheets? Grab my toy companion cheat sheets designed for Pre-K thru 2nd grade for 14 of your students favorite toys.
Using Bubbles in Speech Therapy with Older Children
Bubbles can be used with your upper elementary and middle school/high school students as a STEM project or science experiment. You can have your students make DIY bubble wands. They can make predictions about which “wand” will make the best bubbles. Check out this post from Natalie Snyders for more details.
How Do You Use Bubbles in Speech Therapy?
Do you have a fun way to engage your students with bubbles in speech therapy? Share in the comments, tag me on instagram @thedabblingspeechie, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Squirrels are hilarious little creatures that I like to enjoy from afar. And by afar, I mean, enjoying on google photos, watching them on YouTube videos or in cute cartoons. Cause in real life if you touch a squirrel you might get rabies. Today, I am going to show you lots of ways squirrels can be used in many of your therapy groups!
How To Adapt A Squirrel Theme For Lots Of Ages & Areas
When I pick a theme for therapy, I try to utilize that theme across a lot of ages and treatment areas. Planning therapy is easier for me when I use a theme. And I find that I can teach the content better when I use one theme because I more knowledgeable about the subject. Plus, even though the theme may be similar, each group may have a slightly different activity, which makes my therapy feel novel and FUN for me, the therapist. We have to be engaged with the content too! Once I select theme, I then look at the goals of my students. After that, I find books, YouTube videos, easy crafts or I create materials that match that theme. If I need to, I will make little cheat sheets of different vocabulary, articulation words, wh-questions, etc. that I can use in my groups.
Squirrel Books For Speech Therapy
You can target lots of different skills with using a book. A book is a great low prep resource because you can use the illustrations as well as the story to target a lot of different goals during extension lessons after reading the book. Here are some fun books that have a squirrel theme (amazon affiliate links included):
If I don’t have a certain book or didn’t have time to purchase or check out from the library, I will utilize YouTube for book read alouds like the one below.
Skills That You Can Target With Books
– Have students use words from the book that have their articulation sound in words, phrases, and sentences. For carryover, have them retell the story or make a new ending to the book using their best speech.
-Use the verbs from the story to target past, present, and future tense. Build more complex sentences with verbs and nouns from the book.
-Students can practice answering wh-questions about the book and illustrations.
-Target oral narration using the story.
-Describe the characters and nouns in the book by attributes. Find words from the story that have antonyms/synonyms and any tier II words to teach.
Squirrel Speech Therapy Ideas For Articulation
We have been using my FREE s-blend activity to work on our speech sounds! This activity also has acorns with just numbers, so you can target any speech sounds.
I made a little crazy squirrel bean bag toss game. We practiced our sounds in words and sentences! If they landed on the 20 point squirrel, they got 20 points added to their score and had to say their sound 20 times. Grab the game by clicking on the photo above or HERE!
I googled squirrel articles and found lots of reading materials, which was perfect for all my students working on carrying over their /r/ sound into reading and conversational contexts. We read the articles and then discussed the squirrel facts using our great speech! Great way to progress monitor.
Squirrel Speech Therapy Ideas For Targeting Language
We used these little squirrels I printed out to work on prepositions around my speech room!
For those of you SLPs that are going into the classroom for whole class language lessons, I have been creating push-in language lesson plan guides to help SLPs feel less overwhelmed about running a classroom lesson. What’s really cool is that most of the lesson activities can also be used in your small groups too. Each themed lesson comes with Google Slide presentations, a letter home to parents, recommendations for books, links to YouTube read alouds and movement breaks. There are 3-5 language extension activities that can be run as a whole class or in small stations. It also includes cheat sheet guides for teachers and classroom aids, so that they can run stations! Here students are working on sorting categories into the correct squirrel tree and doing squirrel preposition Simon Says. When you can take the overwhelm out of planning the activities, you can really focus on how helping the kids. If you need language activities that can be used in the classroom, check out this resource HERE.
Using Squirrel Videos In Speech Therapy
YouTube is a great source for videos to teach skills. They are free and easy to prep! You can make a quick cheat sheet with all the goals you are targeting when using these videos. I will share some ideas on how I use these videos in therapy.
Scishowkids has a lot of great non-fiction videos for kids. This one is perfect for teaching the verb “dig”, answering wh-questions and working on main idea. Watch the video before doing therapy and write down tier II vocabulary words you can review during and after the video.
Squirrels are pretty silly creatures. I went on YouTube and found some cute squirrel videos that I used to entice my students to want to talk about squirrels! All my kids including my 4/5th graders were laughing and engaged when I showed them these funny videos.
I let them watch part of the video clips as a way for them to observe what squirrels look like, things that they do and places they hang out. Then, we used this Sentence Frame Graphic Organizer (FREE download) to describe and discuss squirrels.
I also used these videos to have students make more complex sentences with adjectives, prepositional phrases and conjunctions. I would let them watch a little clip, pause it, then see who could come up with the best sentence! If you have students working on /s/, /r/ or /l/ this is the perfect carryover lesson! Loves of vocabulary is being targeted as well.
Simon’s Cat Squirrel Video
Work on sequencing, creating grammatically correct sentences, make social inferences and predictions.
I love that this video is only a minute long! If we are working on social inferencing, I will watch a small portion and then pause the video to discuss what might happen next or what the cat/squirrel could be thinking.
If I am using this video to target sequencing and grammatically correct sentences, I will let the students watch the whole video first. Then, we go back and watch the video while filling out the Sentence Frame Graphic Organizer. Or I will have them take a piece of paper and make four boxes. We will draw a picture of what happened first, next, then, and last. After the students are finished with their pictures, we work on sequencing the event.
Resources For My Upper Elementary Students Using Squirrels
For my 4th and 5th graders working on fluency enhancing strategies and language comprehension, we used articles to practice strategies in reading and answering comprehension questions. I worked on taking “key detail” notes as well as visualizing strategies for remembering information.
This fly squirrel youtube video is pretty cool to watch! It is perfect to work on remembering details, explaining the main idea and answering questions about a non-fiction video. Plus, it is great to watch and then use the Sentence Frame Graphic Organizer (FREE download) to describe flying squirrels!
Perspective Taking & Social Skills Using Squirrel Videos
With my social skill group, we talked a lot about what the squirrels could be thinking and feeling. It was fun trying to come up with funny expressions that the squirrels were thinking or feeling! We also talked about expected vs. unexpected behaviors for how to treat and interact with squirrels when you see them outside. Do you need to work on inferencing and predicting skills? Have your students make predictions about what might happen next in the video. Pause the video mid-clip and discuss what actions the squirrel may do and why.
This was my most favorite squirrel video!! It was perfect for “what’s in their thought bubble?” and figuring out what zone the squirrel or people (in the background) are in. So, what resources and materials do you use with squirrels? I would love to add more fun to my crazy squirrel stash of therapy materials!
For your younger students, you can use squirrels to talk about what to do when they are feeling squirrely! You can watch some of these videos and then talk about how their body moves. Many squirrels move quickly, nibble their food quickly and dart all over the place.
Squirrel Crafts For Speech Therapy
I like to do crafts with my students about 1-2x a month in speech. Sometimes I will do crafts more often during my push-in speech and language lessons if they are simple to prep. They do increase engagement and are a functional way to see how speech and language skills are generalizing in more natural contexts.
My Fall craftivity with this crazy squirrel can make therapy planning easy for those mixed groups. You can have all your students do the same craft, but customize the stimulus items sheet based on your students goals. There are articulation and language targets, so you can cover a lot of goals. Check out the craftivity HERE.
You can print up a squirrel and have students glue tissue paper on the squirrel. The students can work on functional communication for requesting and commenting as well as the basic concept “on”. Make easy squirrel popsicle stick puppets. After the puppets are created, you can use them to work on prepositions. Have one student give directions for where the person has to put the puppet. This also targets following a group plan! With the puppets, students can create a story or building sentences with different verbs. For example, they can hold the squirrel puppet and say, “Yesterday, my squirrel jumped on the tree branch.”
For social skills, they can work on turn taking and waiting. Only put out one box of crayons. Students have to practice asking if they can borrow a crayon and waiting for a turn. This helps students initiate and work on using another person’s name to signal that they want to talk to someone. If you need these crafts, you can access them in my squirrel themed push-in language lesson plan guide.
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