What does play-based speech therapy look like?

What does play-based speech therapy look like?

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. 
Wondering how to get started with play-based speech therapy? Check out this blog post to see the benefits of play-based speech therapy and how play-based learning can help you plan engaging speech therapy sessions efficiently! #slpeeps #playtherapy #playbasedtherapy #speechtherapy #speechtherapist #cfyslp #slp #ashaigers #speechies #schoolslp #dabblingslp #preschoolslp #pediatricslp
  • 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

  1. Functional play – investigating how common objects work and are used
  2. Construction play – building things with objects
  3. Game play with rules – board games that have a clear set of rules for playing
  4. Outdoor and movement play – activities that involve physical movement
  5. Symbolic, dramatic, and pretend play – common activities are done in everyday life as play
Wondering how to get started with play-based speech therapy? Check out this blog post to see the benefits of play-based speech therapy and how play-based learning can help you plan engaging speech therapy sessions efficiently! #slpeeps #playtherapy #playbasedtherapy #speechtherapy #speechtherapist #cfyslp #slp #ashaigers #speechies #schoolslp #dabblingslp #preschoolslp #pediatricslp

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:

Farmhouse Toy

Pet Vet Toy


Toys for Functional Communication

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 feliceclark@thedabblingspeechie.com with your ideas. 

Wondering how to get started with play-based speech therapy? Check out this blog post to see the benefits of play-based speech therapy and how play-based learning can help you plan engaging speech therapy sessions efficiently! #slpeeps #playtherapy #playbasedtherapy #speechtherapy #speechtherapist #cfyslp #slp #ashaigers #speechies #schoolslp #dabblingslp #preschoolslp #pediatricslp

Using bubbles in speech therapy

Using bubbles in speech therapy

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.

If you are the adventurous DIY SLP, then here is a recipe for how to make GIANT bubbles. Here is another recipe for homemade bubbles. Did you know that you can also make DIY wands with pipe cleaners (Amazon affiliate link)?

It is super esy, and it’s an affordable way to have extra wands on hand for your mixed groups. 

Visual Supports To Help Communication With Bubble Play

If you need visual conversation scripts to help show your students how to have a conversation while playing with bubbles, these are pre-made, editable bubble conversation scripts. There are three different levels and you can switch out the images to fit your student’s AAC device. If you want more info about conversation scripts, check out this blog post

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.


  1. Turn-taking and waiting: Students can practice basic social skill requests and comments while playing with the bubbles.
  2. 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.”
  1. Use as a reinforcer:  The student has to practice target stimulus items and then gets a chance to blow bubbles.
  2. Describe bubbles by attributes.
  3. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Answer and teach simple “Who” questions: Who has the wand? Who is popping the bubbles?
  1. Play Red Light, Green Light with bubbles to teach CORE vocabulary for “stop” and “go.”
  2. Build sentence structures:  The bubble is floating in the sky. The bubbles are under the table.
  3. 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 feliceclark@thedabblingspeechie.com.

Squirrel Speech Therapy Ideas That Are Fun

Squirrel Speech Therapy Ideas That Are Fun

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!

squirrel speech therapy ideas to increase FUN in the speech room. Fall activities for speech using squirrels. #dabblingslp #slpeeps #schoolslp #fallspeechtherapy

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):

The Secret Life of Squirrels by Nancy Rose

Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt

Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri

The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tufuri

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 Articulationoh nuts game

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.

squirrel bean bag toss gameI 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

squirrel speech therapy ideas using sneaky snacky squirrel

We have been playing the Educational Insights The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game (amazon affiliate link) in therapy with my I’m a Nut Language cards.  It has made therapy so easy to plan because I can grab n’ go!  We worked on using verbs in sentences, describing by attributes, multiple meaning words, and categories!

IMG_4223We used these little squirrels I printed out to work on prepositions around my speech room!

squirrel speech therapy ideas for whole class push-in lessons for the busy SLP

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.

sentence frame graphic organizer to help with describing squirrels in real photos and videos. Perfect activity for mixed groups!

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.

Grab this National geographic printable about squirrels to work on language comprehension as well as this squirrel article from National Geographic! The second article has fun, cute pictures of squirrels that we used to make compound and complex sentences about each photo.

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.

squirrel speech therapy activities using crafts to target speech and language skills

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.

Pirate Speech Therapy Activities for Prek-5th

Pirate Speech Therapy Activities for Prek-5th

Will you be walking the plank this week in your speech sessions? SLPs out there that love themed therapy, let me just tell that pirates are a BIG hit with the kids. Our younger students love the idea of pirates and all the silly lingo that pirates say. If you need ideas for Pirate speech therapy activities, this blog post has all the inspiration to help you plan engaging speech and language lessons!

Ahoy there mateys! Pirate speech therapy activities to help SLPs plan fun & engaging lessons! Craft ideas, treasure hunt sensory bin, language lessons & book recommendations. #Talklikeapirate #slpeeps #slpsensorybin #sensorybins #craftsforkids #speechtherapy #speechpathology

Pirate Speech Therapy Activities Using Crafts

When I do push-in speech therapy lessons in my Special Day Classroom for K-2, I try to incorporate as many hands on learning activities as possible. The kids find the lessons more fun, they can take the craft home to spark conversations with parents, and it allows an opportunity for naturalistic conversations or pretend play!

Ahoy there mateys! Pirate speech therapy activities to help SLPs plan fun & engaging lessons! Craft ideas, treasure hunt sensory bin, language lessons & book recommendations. #Talklikeapirate #slpeeps #slpsensorybin #sensorybins #craftsforkids #speechtherapy #speechpathology

Crafts can be a lot to prep, so to make things easier, find easy to prep crafts such as this pirate paper bag craft. I typically do a 20-30 minute carpet circle time lesson including a pirate book, anchor chart or movement activity. Then, the students break up into three stations. I run a station, and the teachers/instructional aids run stations. We do those for about 10 minutes each and then rotate the students to the next station. Because I didn’t run the paper bag craft station, I didn’t get to see the kids puppets. At the end of the stations, over half the class initiated conversation with me because they wanted ME to see their pirate puppet. It was amazing to hearing all the spontaneous conversation. Some students even requested to take them out at recess to play with them.

Who Stole The Treasure Activity?

I found some plastic gold coins at the Dollar Spot during the St. Patrick’s holiday. After I read a pirate book, we play the “Who Stole The Treasure?” activity. It works on object permanence, being able to have impulse control to NOT reveal if they stole the treasure, ask/answer questions with peers, and using the body language necessary for talking with peers. You can also give students the treasure and work on answering simple wh-questions. Who has the treasure? Who has the gold coins? If you have more pirate props, you can give every student an item and work on “who” questions.

Ahoy there mateys! Pirate speech therapy activities to help SLPs plan fun & engaging lessons! Craft ideas, treasure hunt sensory bin, language lessons & book recommendations. #Talklikeapirate #slpeeps #slpsensorybin #sensorybins #craftsforkids #speechtherapy #speechpathology

Have all the students close their eyes. Explain that if the student gets a treasure chest or gold coin, that they have to keep it a secret. When all the items are hidden, pick a student or students to ask his/her peers if they have the item? Continue this activity until all the treasure is found. The printables and lesson plan are part of my Pirate Push-In Language Lesson Plan Guide.

Make Your Own Treasure Sensory Bin In Speech Therapy

To make a Treasure Sensory bin, you need a filler, fake gold coins and items to hide in the bin. I liked using kinetic sand that I got at Lakeshore Learning, but there are some good deals on amazon for kinetic sand (affiliate)

Ahoy there mateys! Pirate speech therapy activities to help SLPs plan fun & engaging lessons! Craft ideas, treasure hunt sensory bin, language lessons & book recommendations. #Talklikeapirate #slpeeps #slpsensorybin #sensorybins #craftsforkids #speechtherapy #speechpathology

I got my container from Lakeshore, but you can use any bin. I actually prefer bins that have clasps (amazon affiliate) on the lid in case you drop the bin in transit. I hid dinkydoodad trinkets that I found on etsy in the bin. Then, students got to go hunt for treasure.

Ahoy there mateys! Pirate speech therapy activities to help SLPs plan fun & engaging lessons! Craft ideas, treasure hunt sensory bin, language lessons & book recommendations. #Talklikeapirate #slpeeps #slpsensorybin #sensorybins #craftsforkids #speechtherapy #speechpathology

Ways To Use The Treasure Hunt Sensory Bin

Once, students went hunting for treasure, we discussed the items they found by category group, noun function, parts, etc. You can go on a categories treasure hunt using my FREE printable that you can access on this blog post.

Another way that I used this bin was to work on the verbs “bury” and “hide”. After the kids went on the treasure hunt, they got to bury the treasure so that other pirates couldn’t find their loot. Your students can work on building grammatically correct sentences and answering “who” questions. “I buried _______.” And then I asked peers, “who buried the shoe?”

Pirate Books For Speech Therapy

Ahoy there mateys! Pirate speech therapy activities to help SLPs plan fun & engaging lessons! Craft ideas, treasure hunt sensory bin, language lessons & book recommendations. #Talklikeapirate #slpeeps #slpsensorybin #sensorybins #craftsforkids #speechtherapy #speechpathology

A quick search on pinterest will help you select a pirate themed book for therapy. YouTube also has pirate read aloud books in the event that you don’t have pirate books in your own therapy materials library. Here are a few of my favorite books that I like to use:

There Was An Old Pirate Who Swallowed a Fish by Jennifer Ward is a great book for kids that need repetitive language. The kids love seeing the pirates belly grow and can’t believe he is swallowing all these items! The visuals for The Old Pirate Who Swallowed A Fish are part of my pirate push-in language lesson plan guide for k-2.

Pirates Don’t Change Diapers by Melinda Long is a fun tale about a kid who had pirates come visit him at his home.

The Pirate Who Couldn’t Say Arrr by Angie Neal M.S. CCC-SLP is a great book written by a speech pathologist! It is a great book for teaching /r/ and uses a lot of pirate vocabulary.

YouTube Videos To Use With A Pirate Theme

This pirate YouTube video is good for following directions and a great reinforcer or movement break.

Pirate Party Preschool Song is great for getting some movement, learning pirate vocabulary & doing verb actions.

The Go Noodle crew has a Pirate Prep video that is fun for a movement break and to keep the kids engaged in the lesson.

This video can be used to work on the /ar/ sound in therapy!

What Pirate Speech Therapy Activities Do You Plan?

What pirate speech therapy activities do you plan? Did you know that September 19th is Talk Like A Pirate Day? This is the best time to plan pirate activities. But, honestly, you can do pirates any old time you want to in speech. I think this theme is highly motivating for our younger students. I would love to know what middle school and high school SLPs do for pirates week! Share in the comments your ideas for older students.


Speech Therapy Ideas With Beach Balls!

Speech Therapy Ideas With Beach Balls!

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

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

Beach Ball Crafts For Kids

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

Beach Ball Language Therapy Ideas

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

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

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

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

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

speech therapy beach balls

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

Use Beach Balls To Increase Functional Communication

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

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

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

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

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

Play Beach Ball Simon Says

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

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

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

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

Beach Balls in Speech Therapy – Ideas From Other SLPs

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

3 easy ways to use beach balls in speech language therapy

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

What are your Beach Ball Speech Therapy Ideas?

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

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

Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head In Speech Therapy

How To Use My Little House In Speech Therapy

10 Toys That Promote Functional Communication

How To Adapt Lids ‘N Lizards In Speech Therapy

Themed Therapy – Camping Speech Therapy Activities

Themed Therapy – Camping Speech Therapy Activities

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!

camping speech therapy activities to help SLPs plan lessons. Craft ideas for kids, camping book recommendations, speech therapy lesson plan ideas & materials to use. #slpeeps #schoolslp #speechtherapy #SLP2b #languagetherapy #speechpathology

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!

camping speech therapy activities to help SLPs plan lessons. Craft ideas for kids, camping book recommendations, speech therapy lesson plan ideas & materials to use. #slpeeps #schoolslp #speechtherapy #SLP2b #languagetherapy #speechpathology

Here are some of my favorite camping themed books for speech therapy:

Curious George Goes Camping by Margret Rey

Camping Spree With Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen

Our Great Big Backyard by Laura Bush & Jenna Bush Hager

Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping by Peggy Parish

Just Me and My Dad by Mercer Mayer

Need more summer book recommendations? Head over to this blog post for more suggestions.



Structuring Your Lessons Around Books

First Session

  • 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.

camping speech therapy activities to help SLPs plan lessons. Craft ideas for kids, camping book recommendations, speech therapy lesson plan ideas & materials to use. #slpeeps #schoolslp #speechtherapy #SLP2b #languagetherapy #speechpathology

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.

camping speech therapy activities to help SLPs plan lessons. Craft ideas for kids, camping book recommendations, speech therapy lesson plan ideas & materials to use. #slpeeps #schoolslp #speechtherapy #SLP2b #languagetherapy #speechpathology

  • 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.

camping speech therapy activities to help SLPs plan lessons. Craft ideas for kids, camping book recommendations, speech therapy lesson plan ideas & materials to use. #slpeeps #schoolslp #speechtherapy #SLP2b #languagetherapy #speechpathology

  • 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 s'mores craft for a camping speech therapy activity that can be used to target basic concepts, work on sequencing steps and cover a lot of goals for 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.

Need a video tutorial? Check out the tutorial I did for making Chinese New Year lanterns. It is the same craft!

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.

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