I recently talked with a graduate student about managing a large caseload while also balancing school-based responsibilities-IEP meetings, evaluations, recess duty, and more. “How do you have time to plan?” My answer? Use a speech therapy theme calendar to streamline your monthly lesson plans.
I explained that speech therapy themes use a specific topic or category to frame concepts and language. You plan books, games, crafts, and more all relating to the chosen theme. To learn more about the themed-based approach, you can read my blog post here.
I could see her wheels turning as she took it all in and started thinking of the themes she could do in the future. I went on to explain that themes in speech therapy still involve some planning, but it saves time that we’re already so limited with.
One way to streamline your planning time is by using themes each month. Avoid feeling overwhelmed with themes and make a speech therapy theme calendar. Here is my advice when it comes to making a speech therapy theme calendar.
Take the FREE Themed Therapy SLP Quiz
I wanted to let you know about a free Themed Therapy SLP quiz I created to help you get information about using a theme-based approach. Whether you are new to themes, trying to get more organized, or need fresh ideas for planning by themes, you will want to take the quiz to get an email with links to podcast episodes, blog posts, and resources to help you with your themed therapy planning.
How Many Speech Therapy Themes to Plan Per Month?
Like I said, themed therapy still requires planning but there’s a way to minimize it to help you save time and avoid burnout in the long run.
When you’re planning speech therapy themes, it’s important to first decide how many themes you want to use each month. At first, your immediate answer might seem like 4 by using 1 theme each week. What if I told you, you could plan less themes? Listen to my podcast episode about why you should use a theme longer than a week.
By using a theme for at least two weeks, you can plan 1-2 themes for each month! Avoid the added stress and save time and energy in implementing therapy.
Tips for Speech Therapy Theme Calendar
Before you start planning themes for speech therapy, I’d recommend downloading my free-themed therapy planner. It has loads of seasonal and non-seasonal theme ideas as well as worksheets to map out your plans on.
I have a few more pointers when making your speech therapy theme calendar…
1. Map out your calendar for the year. If you’re new to themed therapy planning, aim to do one theme a month.
2. Talk with your student’s teachers about the units they cover each month. Is there a way to align your plans with the teacher’s units and classroom themes?
- This is a great way to address functional words, vocabulary, and related concepts!
- You can even start a theme a week before their teachers introduce it in the classroom. Pre-teach vocabulary and concepts to help build your student’s background knowledge and confidence!
3. Fill out the SLP-themed planner with books, activities, printable activities, and vocabulary that you can use with the theme. Don’t forget, you can always fill the planner out as you are doing the theme, so it is fresh in your mind. These will be cheat sheets to reference the next time you do the theme.
- Watch my Instagram reel on how to use the planner and edit it!
Example of Themed Speech Therapy Lesson Plans
4. Working with older students? Have them vote on themes they like. By having them vote, you’ll (hopefully) increase their buy-in to therapy. Students are more likely to engage in therapy if the topic is of interest and relevant to them!
5. Need some examples of what to plan? Check out some of my themed speech therapy plans…
- My Back to School Theme includes books by grade level books, toys, picture scenes, digital activities, crafts and language based activities.
- My Camping Theme includes books, tips for structuring lessons around books, speech therapy activities, crafts and activities for older students.
- Get ideas for planning an ice cream theme for your preschool and elementary caseload.
How to Pick Themes for Your Speech Therapy Caseload
There are so many different themes you can do… everything from food to sports to chores. It can be hard to narrow down which themes you want to do. There are a lot of factors that go into picking a theme for your caseload, and it might feel a little overwhelming.
There are a few things to think about…
- What motivates your students?
- What’s relevant and important to them in the classroom and in the community?
- What motivates you as a therapist? You will be learning and talking a lot about these themes, so pick something you like!
- What can you adapt across age and skill levels? What can you adapt for all goals?
Need some more advice on picking a theme? Check out my 4 tips to help pick speech therapy themes.
Have you been feeling overwhelmed with the long SLP To Do list? Try using speech therapy themes to help limit planning time and motivate your students. It might require some additional time at first, but it will save you time in the long run! Snap a picture of your theme calendar or notes and share it with me on Facebook or Instagram!