How to Conversational Recast with Grammar Therapy

How to Conversational Recast with Grammar Therapy

We all want our therapy time with students to be as productive and effective as possible. Our therapy sessions fly by, and when you have mixed groups, you wonder if you even made a dent in helping a child make progress on their goals. That’s not the best feeling.

That’s why I want to share a conversational recast strategy for grammar therapy to help you make the most of your sessions. Plus, I have a FREE  100 unique verbs checklist to keep track of verbs you recast during an activity.

What is a Conversational Recast?

Basically, a conversational recast is a fancy word for emphasizing what the child said with the correct grammar morpheme. For example, if the child said, “He eat,” the clinician could say, “Yes, he eatsssss cookies.” You probably already do this evidence-based practice naturally in your sessions. Still, when you are sitting at IEP meetings, you can confidently tell the IEP team that you are using EBP with grammar intervention.


How I Was Implementing Grammar Therapy

In the past, I would pick 3-6 verbs I wanted to target in therapy. Then, I would conversational recast those 3-6 verbs throughout the session. Whether I was doing a worksheet, using task cards, or play-based therapy, I used a handful of verbs as my targets. I thought by targeting a small set of verbs over and over again would help my students learn the grammatical morphemes easier.

For example, if we were playing with a farmhouse and working on present progressive verb tense, you would hear me using conversational recasts such as “The cow is eating. The horse is eating. The pig is eating. Now, the cow is sleeping. The horse is jumping. The pig is rolling in the mud. The cow is rolling in the grass.”

With my grammar intervention, I would also explicitly teach the grammar rules and then cueing the student to try and use the morpheme.

The way I was doing therapy was NOT wrong or ineffective; however, when reading about the positive outcomes from the research study, “Variability in the language input to children enhances learning in a treatment context,” it gave me permission to start adding in harder verb targets into my therapy sessions.

Using conversational recasts to support grammar intervention

Using 24 Unique Verb Conversational Recast in a Session

This research study looked to see if 18 preschoolers with language impairments made better progress with learning grammatical morphemes when either conversational recasts of 12 verbs two times in a session or 24 unique verbs were conversational recast in a session. The study found that when the clinicians used 24 unique verbs in a session, progress was better. 

I know what you might be thinking….how in the heck am I supposed to think of 24 unique verbs in a mixed group? With off-task behaviors? With limited time to prepare materials?

If you did not think these thoughts, I did! I  tried implementing this conversational recast approach with activities I had planned. It was hard to think of verbs on the spot and keep students engaged. 

So, I created a cheat sheet with 100 unique verbs that I could checkoff while doing any therapy activity. That way, you could put it in a page protector sleeve and check off verbs that you conversationally recast during activities.


Even if you weren’t able to hit 24 unique verbs in a therapy session, this reminds us all that switching up the variety of verbs is beneficial for our student’s learning the grammatical morphemes. You can now provide more unique verbs in therapy and feel confident that you aren’t making grammar intervention more confusing for students!

Need More Cheat Sheets to Help Save Lesson Planning Time?

Play-based therapy can be an effective way to approach grammar intervention for a variety of reasons. For starters, it is easy to grab a toy off the shelf and start using it in therapy. Another thing to note is that students are more engaged when they feel like they are “playing,” so using toys gets excellent buy-in from students. Having to think of 24 unique verbs on the spot while using a toy is a little daunting for the busy SLP, right? I know I need to conserve my brain energy to write that after school and conducting therapy all day can drain my brain. 

That’s why I created toy companion cheat sheets to use any toy and have the grammar targets already selected. Having cheat sheets helps me follow the child’s lead for what toy they want to play with while allowing me the freedom to enjoy therapy. It’s a great feeling knowing that I don’t have to think of verbs on the spot in therapy! Plus, you can also give these toy companions to teachers and parents and provide them with some ideas for working on grammar outside of your sessions. 

Using toy companion cheat sheets to conversationally recast verbs in grammar intervention
Using toy companion cheat sheets to conversationally recast verbs in grammar intervention
Using toy companion cheat sheets to conversationally recast verbs in grammar intervention

More Ideas for Implementing Conversational Recast in Speech Therapy

If you are needing more ideas on how to implement this conversation recasting strategy, I have a replay of an Instagram LIVE I did talking about some therapy ideas. You can also check out this paper plate craft that is easy to use for grammar HERE. When you don’t have time to prep and plan activities, you can head to my store to find grammar activities that include a variety of verbs and align with EBP.

Conversational recast using this paper plate activity in grammar therapy
Toy Trains Speech Therapy – 10 tips for how to use

Toy Trains Speech Therapy – 10 tips for how to use

Young children always seem more likely than not to have a fascination with toy train sets. Maybe Thomas the Tank Engine/Thomas the Train has something to do with it?! They love building train sets and making the trains go around the railroad tracks. You can capitalize on this interest by having your students build 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 train sets below, so keep reading to get all of my suggestions!

Where Can I Buy a Toy Train Set for My Speech Room?


There are a few different toy train sets available online. One of them is even a Melissa and Doug set, which you know is going to be really well made and high quality! 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.

Melissa and Doug Take a Long Railroad (This one is great for SLPs who don’t want to assemble a railroad.)

On Track USA Figure 8 Wooden Train Set

Cute Stones Wooden Train Set

Toy Train speech therapy ideas for play-based therapy.

Play-Based Speech Therapy Information

If you are wondering about how to implement play-based therapy in your sessions, check out this blog post for some tips.

Often times in my sessions, I will do a mix of direct structured therapy using a toy and then will allow time for a natural play-based activity time with the toy. This helps me get those direct trials in for certain goals and then allows me to take the child’s lead with the natural play-based time. 

Toy trains are a favorite toy for many of my students, so planning therapy around motivating toys keeps students engaged in therapy. Check out 10 ways you can use a toy train set in therapy.

How to use toy trains in speech therapy

10 Ways to Use a Toy Train in Speech Therapy

10 ways to use a toy train set in speech therapy

1. Teach cause and effect by knocking the train off the track, crashing into something, stopping all of the sudden, letting go of the train to go down the hill, etc. Work on comments about what happened, joint attention, and requests to do it again.

2. Work on sequencing with first, next, and last, or tell a story with the child’s actions and then work on re-telling the sequence. Sequence the steps for a train picking up and dropping off the passengers.

3. Have the students make deliveries with the train. The students describe the items they delivered by attributes. You can also give clues to work on inferencing.

4. Work on mean length utterance and grammar structures for plural tense, present progressive, third person singular, past tense, adjectives, and prepositional phrases.

5. Work on following directions with basic concepts and prepositions. You can teach basic concepts of up/down when going up a hill on the track. Other basic concepts you can target are around, on/off, and over/under while the child has the train go over or under a bridge.

6. Use the train to work on slow/fast speech for fluency. Have the train get stuck to demonstrate blocks with stuttering.

7. Use the train to help increase articulation or phonology productions. Lay the train sideways and put cotton balls above the train as “smoke” for each production. Take the cotton balls off one by one for more productions.

8. Build a train track. Place mini trinkets or flashcards along the track. Have the train stop at each item to practice, answer a wh- question, describe, use in a sentence, etc.

9. Follow the group’s plan and flexibility with changing the social routine or play routine. One person is the conductor, and all the cabs have to follow the head train.

10. Facilitate pretend play for getting on a train, paying for a ticket, collecting the tickets, and arriving at the destination.

If you want all these ideas handy as you implement play-based therapy, you can add my toy companion cheat sheets for 18 different toys to use in therapy. There is a Spanish and English version. Many SLPs use the resource in therapy to coach staff and parents how to work on skills while playing with toys.

Easy ideas for using a toy train in speech therapy for the busy SLP

How Do You Use a Toy Train Set in Speech Therapy?


Do you have a fun way to engage your students with a toy train set in speech therapy? Share in the comments, tag me on Instagram @thedabblingspeechie, or email me at


More Toy Speech Therapy Idea Blog Posts

Using toys in speech therapy can be a great way to plan for different goals and help keep your students engaged. Here are more blog posts on how you can use different toys to target lots of goals in therapy:

How to Use a Farm Toy in Speech Therapy

10 Ways to Use Play Food in Speech Therapy

10 Ways to Use a Pet Vet Hospital in Speech Therapy

Copyright 2019 The Dabbling Speechie | Disclosures | Terms of UseBrand Ambassador Program