Beach Theme Speech Therapy Tips for Targeting Multiple Goals

Beach Theme Speech Therapy Tips for Targeting Multiple Goals

One of the many reasons I love themed therapy is that with one theme you can use all different books, activities, and materials to cover the wide range of ages and goals that so many of our caseloads entail. Not only does this create fun and relevant therapy for our students, but it also makes planning easier. During the summer months, using beach theme speech therapy activities is a great way to reinforce your student’s experiences with going to the beach. 

There are countless books, activities, and materials to use for beach therapy but I have made planning that much easier with my Themed Therapy SLP membership. Minimize your prep time with themed materials for your preschool through 5th-grade students who are working on speech, language, and social language skills.

Tips for Targeting Multiple Goals with a Speech Therapy Beach Theme

When using a beach theme or any theme with your speech therapy caseload, the key to targeting multiple goals in a session is to pick materials that have lots of opportunities to discuss the beach vocabulary and concepts. Oftentimes, books are a great material to choose from because you can easily adapt to speech and language goals.

Other options for beach-themed materials could include sensory bins, YouTube non-fiction videos, virtual field trip, pretend play activities, and hands-on STEM projects such as building a sandcastle. You will learn how to target a variety of goals with beach books, props and sensory bins.

Get tips for how to target multiple goals with a beach theme.

Beach Themed Books for Speech Therapy 

Learn how to adapt beach books to cover speech and language goals

Books are a fun way to experience the beach from your speech room! There are all different ways to break a book down to address speech and language goals. Let’s say I’m planning to use “A Beach Tail” by Karen Lynn Williams with my 2nd grade group. (Here’s where to buy the book on Amazon, and here’s a YouTube read aloud) This is how I’d use it to target different goals.

How to Target Different Goals with the Book A Beach Tail by Karen Lynn Williams

  • Before I read the book, I’ll review tier II words such as sturdy, smooth, giant, scurry and suddenly with my students. Since these words are adverbs and adjectives, I’ll ask if they can think of something that is sturdy, smooth, giant, scurry or sudden
  • I also like to talk about the title of this book! What is a tale vs. a tail? Can they make a prediction about what this book might be about? What might happen in a beach tale? Why might the author have changed it to tail?


  • While reading the book, there’s ways to work on speech and language goals. For my students working on speech sounds, we’ll do a sound hunt! Can they find their speech sound in the book? If there’s limited examples of their sound in the book, give them a sentence starter that involves their sound. You can ask them questions throughout the book that they can answer with their sentence starter. (For /s/ or /s-blends/, “I see/spy…” For /l/, “Look! It’s a…” For final /z/, “It is…”)
  • Can your students find the examples of onomatopoeia in this story? There are so many examples of onomatopoeia (swish, swoosh) and other sound effects (uh-oh, zig zag, roar) in this story! Have your students find them and read it with different expressions (scary, exciting, surprising, etc.). 
    Learn how to adapt the book A Beach Tail in your literacy-based speech therapy sessions.

    Targeting Multiple Goals After Reading Your Beach-Themed Book

    Learn literacy-based speech therapy ideas for the book A Beach Tail by Karen Lynn Williams
    • After you’re done reading the book, ask comprehension questions like Who went to the beach with Gregory? What did he draw in the sand? What did he find while making the lion’s tail longer? How does he find his way back? Don’t forget to follow up on the question, Why is this book called “A Beach Tail” and notA Beach Tale?”
    • This book allows from some great sequencing! Students can practice using sequencing words first, next, then, after, last, etc. Have some visuals prepared and students can re-tell the story using the visuals. Don’t forget to include all the story elements, too
    • If you’re looking for social skills to target, consider some conversation starters related to the book. In the story, Gregory got lost after drawing a long tail on his sandy lion. Ask: Did Gregory follow his Dad’s rules? What happened when he didn’t follow the rules? Have you ever been lost? What did you do? What would you do if you were Gregory? 

    Adapting Beach Sensory Bins for Speech Therapy

    I love using sensory bins during my speech therapy sessions, and a beach sensory bin is no exception. There are so many different fillers you can use like kinetic sand, pom pom balls, water beads, real or plastic rocks, and more. Add in mini buckets, shells, mini paper umbrellas, mini beach animals and other mini figurines! Students will love to see a “mini beach” in your speech room! 


    Now that you have your materials ready for a beach-themed sensory bin, start thinking about how you want to work on speech and language with it! Use a sensory bin after you read a beach-themed book with your students. Work on beach-related vocabulary like noun functions and action words. Ask WH questions and work on basic concepts like position words, quantitative concepts, and qualitative concepts. Make word lists with your student’s target sounds or plan a carrier phrase with their speech sound for them to use while playing with the sensory bin. 


    For more tips on beach sensory bins, I wrote a whole post about them here. 

    Learn how to adapt a beach sensory bin for speech and language goals.

    Beach-Themed Props in Speech Therapy

    Learn how to do beach-themed props in speech therapy.

    There are so many props you can use with the beach theme, and chances are you probably already have them! Grab a towel, sunglasses, sunscreen, bucket, shovel, and beach bag. To learn more about where to find themed props head here

    Use these props to work on spatial concepts (“Put the sunglasses under the bucket”), answering WH questions (“Where are the sunglasses?”), or for pretend play.

    One prop-based speech therapy activity I love is packing a beach bag! Here are a few of my ideas:

    • Read (or listen to) “How Will We Get to the Beach” by Brigitte Luciani & Eve Tharlet. Then, pack a beach bag. Your students can sort things that you bring to the beach, and things to not bring to the beach. 
    • Make a list of what to pack and why you’ll need it. 
    • Pack a beach bag loaded with your students’ speech sounds! Students can reach in and talk about what they find. In a group with mixed goals, students can work on describing the items, including appearance, function, parts, and category. 


    Read all about how to use beach balls in speech therapy in my post.

    Learn About the Beach in Speech Therapy

    Whether you use a nonfiction passage or a YouTube video, learning new facts about the beach is just another way to target speech and language goals with your elementary school caseload. 

    Find nonfiction passages on Wonderopolis or Newsela. On Wonderopolis, read about Where Sand on Beaches Come From or How Sea Shells Form. With either of these passages, ask your students what they think the answer will be. While you’re reading, review any vocabulary words you find. Vocabulary words are highlighted in yellow and include definitions of the words! At the beginning of the article, there are a few questions you can ask your students at the end. Ask your students these questions and use their own words to answer the questions. At the end of the articles, there are a few ideas for extension activities! Try them out. 


    You can also use YouTube videos to learn more about the beach like What Causes Waves or Where Sand Comes From. Students can make predictions about either of these questions. While watching, stop the video and talk about what’s being said. Are there words they don’t understand? Ask comprehension questions to make sure they’re able to follow along. After the video, talk about if any of their predictions were right. Then, talk about what causes waves or where sand comes from. You can discuss concepts like cause and effect and/or work on sequencing. I often find myself learning something new about the beach (or other topics) when I use nonfiction pieces in therapy!


    Learn how to use Beach-themed YouTube videos to cover speech and language goals.

    Ideas for Other Summer-Related Themes

    Get beach themed speech therapy ideas and how to adapt for mixed groups.

    Before or after your beach theme, don’t forget to use an ocean theme to cover the land and sea! I have a few other ideas to help you plan for summer speech therapy sessions like some camping activity ideas or pool play sets. These posts will help a bunch with your PreK-5th grade caseload!


    Between books, sensory bins, props, and nonfiction passages, a beach theme is sure to be a hit in your speech sessions! During the summer, so many of our minds are thinking about the beach! It’s safe to say using a beach theme in speech therapy will decrease planning time and keep you and your students engaged! How do you bring the beach to your speech sessions? Share your ideas on Facebook or Instagram and tag me @thedabblingspeechie 

    Shark Week Speech Therapy Lesson Plan for Upper Elementary

    Shark Week Speech Therapy Lesson Plan for Upper Elementary

    It’s late Summer and you turn on the Discovery Channel. What do you find? Dun dun… dun dun… SHARK WEEK! Each summer, Shark Week mesmerizes everyone with wild stories and footage. What If we take shark week from Discovery Channel and make it into Shark Week Speech Therapy? You can use this theme as a lesson plan for upper elementary students and adapt it for small groups and co-teaching (push-in or whole class lessons). To read more about push-in setup, check out this blog post. At first glance, it may seem like this is a one-week kind of theme, but I’ve put together a few of my favorite ideas that will help you plan shark activities for at least 2 weeks.

    Amazon affiliate links are included for your convenience in this blog post. When you use my affiliate link, I receive a small comission at no additional charge.

    Get Your FREE Themed SLP Planner

    Want to keep track of your lesson plans for future years? Use the free editable themed therapy lesson planner and idea guide to help you plan out your themes for the school year. It’s a free download on this blog post.

    With a themed speech therapy calendar that is editable and over 100 seasonal and nonseasonal themed ideas, you will have your monthly themes planned out for the school year!

    Get your free SLP planner for themed therapy.

    Shark Week Book for Speech Therapy

    Learn about shark themed books you can use in your speech therapy lesson plnas.

    “Shark Lady” by Jess Keating is the perfect book for shark week speech therapy. Buy it on Amazon or watch it a YouTube read aloud by Story Time with Ms. Jay. Get Epic also has an animated Shark Lady book. Use EdPuzzle to listen, too.

    The Before: 

    • Review any Tier 2 vocabulary words with your students. Some tier 2 words I found were fearless, doubt, eager, myth, and devise
    • Ask your students a big thinking question such as “Have you ever seen an animal that you thought was beautiful but other people thought was scary or ugly?”

    The During

    • Stop every couple of pages to ask a think-aloud question. 
    • Point to pictures in the book that represent some of the vocabulary words. 
    • Talk about character traits. How would they describe Eugenie as the story goes on?
    • This EdPuzzle has questions built in with picture choice answers.


    The After

    • Complete this Quizziz about the story. 
    • Discuss how the word “fearless” relates to this book. How is Eugenie Clark fearless?
    • Create a timeline about Eugenie Clark. What other questions do they have about her?
    • Do a word search like this one from Wordmint.


    Want a cheat sheet for “Shark Lady”? I have a full lesson plan cheat sheet for this book as part of May’s “Ocean Animals” theme in the SLP Themed Therapy membership.

    Use this easy shark week speech therapy lesson plan for upper elementary.

    Shark Week Videos

    Get shark week speech therapy lesson plan ideas for upper elementary.

    Videos are the start to some great shark activities that you can use in small group or whole class instruction.

    SciShow on YouTube has great options with Super Sharks or How Sharks Find Food with Electricity. After watching the video, ask comprehension questions. What questions do your students have about sharks?

    If you’re using this as a push-in lesson, here are some ideas:

    • Break your students into groups and assign staff members to different groups.
    • Provide whiteboards and dry erase markers for each group.
    • Pause the video after a key point is shared and ask the class a question.
    • Allow each group to write an answer on their white board, and then share it with the class.
    • When the video is finished, you can have the students write out the main idea, supporting details and a summary sentence about the video.
    • Don’t forget to float between groups and ask questions or help keep students engaged.
    • Close your session with: What is one cool thing you learned about sharks?

    Some other fun videos to watch are LIVE shark cams!ith these shark themed speech therapy activities. Here are a few I found:

    Tips for Using the Shark Videos in Speech Therapy

    While watching the live feeds, talk about what the sharks are doing. How many do they see? How are they similar and different? What other fish do they see? Research sharks with your students. 


    You can also use these as some conversation starters—Have your students been to an aquarium? What did they think of it? Did they see sharks? How do they feel when they think or see sharks?

    Lots of great shark speech therapy activities for upper elementary.

    More Shark Speech Therapy Activities to Extend the Themed Lesson Plan

    Planning for your upper elementary students just got easier with these shark themed speech therapy activities.

    Like I said earlier, there is plenty of opportunity to extend Shark Week into multiple weeks with even more shark week ideas. After you’ve read “Shark Lady” and/or watched some Shark Videos, check out some of these shark activities.

    Mystery Doug has some fun videos with some questions your students might have about sharks. Doug answers

    Before you watch, ask your students what they think the answer is. After you watch, ask students if their predictions were right. Don’t forget to ask your students what questions they have about sharks!

    Brain breaks are always fun with students, especially in whole class instruction! Coach Corey Martin has a great movement break for you to complete. This is a great tool to break up your push-in lessons.

    Last but not least, don’t forget about Shark STEM. Learn about shark buoyancy with this YouTube video from the Houston Public Library. You’ll need a plastic bottle, sharpie, 1 balloon, vegetable oil, funnel and a large tub filled with water. While completing this, pause the video and ask your students what they think will happen. After, they can draw a picture of the activity, and verbally explain what happened and why it happened.

    Looking for More Shark Week Ideas 


    Shark Week(s) is a great speech therapy theme for students of all ages. If you’re an SLP serving Prek-5th, Speech Sprouts has some great shark activities for the preschool speech therapy population. What shark activities you are using in therapy?

    Planning for your upper elementary students just got easier with these shark themed speech therapy activities.
    4 Speech Therapy Themes for Younger & Older Students

    4 Speech Therapy Themes for Younger & Older Students

    Themed therapy is a fun and efficient way to plan for engaging sessions while also targeting a variety of goals. While our caseloads are full of many different goals, they also entail a variety of ages and abilities. When planning your speech therapy themes, it’s important to find themes that are easy to adapt to both younger and older students. This saves time planning and keeps your brain organized to teach topics across grades. You can easily pull activities out that can be re-used for different grades and skills. 


    Pro Tip? Use a theme longer than a week! Plan themes for 2-4 weeks with lessons for everyone. Learn more about this by listening to this podcast episode. 

    Take the Themed Speech Therapy SLP FREE Quiz

    Want to learn more ways you can use a theme-based approach to plan for your speech therapy caseload? Take the Themed Therapy SLP quiz to learn what area you want more tips, tricks and ways to rock at using themes in speech therapy. 

    Top Tips for Using Speech Therapy Themes Across Your Caseload

    Learn about speech therapy themes for younger and older students.

    Themed therapy allows us to streamline our planning! Pick a theme and modify it across grade and skill levels. This is a game changer for SLPs and saves us a lot of time in our busy schedules! 


    When choosing themes across your caseload, think about what’s interesting for younger and older students. What is going to keep them interested and motivated to keep participating? Consider what’s relevant to them both inside the classroom (curriculum) and outside the classroom (events, hobbies, preferred topics, and more). 


    When you’ve chosen your theme, make activities open-ended. This will give you some wiggle room to target all the different goals in your caseload and maybe even different ages! Don’t forget, too, it’s ok to reuse materials! Across groups and across ages, use the same materials as long as they’re relevant and appropriate.


    Need some more inspiration for using and choosing themes across your caseload? Check out this post

    Speech Therapy Themes for Younger and Older Students

    1. Food

    Food is something that brings people all over the world together, so it’s the perfect theme for all your students. For younger students, a food theme may involve sorting food into groups, describing different foods, and using pretend play food while targeting speech and language goals. Read my post about ways to use play food in speech therapy. Or, you can actually use real food with Live Love Speech’s visual cooking recipes.


    Older students may work following directions in a recipe, re-telling the steps and ingredients to make something, and/or learning about different cultural foods. Check out this post on ways to use real cooking activities in speech therapy. Food also has a lot of ways to address social language skills like how to order at a restaurant and great conversation starters (What’s your favorite kind of food? Do you like to cook?)

    Learn about speech therapy themes for younger and older students.

    How to Adapt a Transportation Theme 

    Tips for how to adapt a transportation theme in your speech therapy sessions.

    2. Transportation

    One of the first things my students go to in my room? My toy cars and racetrack. Later on in the day, I’ll work with older students who (probably) know more about cars than I do. Transportation is another theme that seems to be relevant and motivating to all of our students. For younger students, you can work on sorting different methods of transportation. Read all about one of my favorite sorting activities here.

    Transportation also has natural ways to work on positional terms, action words, and more! Check out my transportation push in lesson plans for some more inspo! 


    For older students, you can plan 1 lesson for each method of transportation. (This is an easy way to use one theme for a few weeks!) One week you can learn how airplanes fly, then make paper airplanes. Another week, students can talk about cars and learning to drive- what’s their favorite kind? What are some important rules to follow when driving? Use Wonderopolis and Newsela to find some articles about transportation for your older students. 

    Fun Ways to use a Camping Theme with Younger and Older Students

    3. Camping

    Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Camping has become such a fun theme to use with my students. This is a fun theme to use dramatic play for, and there’s great songs like We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and books like Camping Spree with Mr. Magee. I also have some fun language-based push in plans for camping.

    For older students, have them plan a camping trip! What will they need? Who will bring what? Can they explain how to set up a tent? This is also a great conversation starter-who has been camping? Where did they go? How did they like it?

    For books, and more speech therapy ideas, check out this camping-themed blog post.

    You can find a lot of camping-themed activities in my Themed Therapy SLP Membership.

    Ideas for how to pick themes that are easy to adapt for younger and older speech therapy students.

    Use the Weather Seasons for Older and Younger Students

    Get some themed therapy ideas that you can use for younger and older students.

    4. Seasons

    For the longest time, seasons were my go-to themes. They are jam packed with vocabulary, exciting topics and plenty of conversation starters. Not to mention, there are so many ready-to-use materials on Teachers Pay Teachers

    With younger students, I love to do seasonal activities with sensory bins and vocabulary cards. I’ll use filling material that represents something to do with the season (cotton balls for snow, fake leaves for fall, etc) and hide vocabulary cards or mini objects to target vocabulary. This also allows for practice with speech sounds and grammar targets, too. Here is a low prep activity idea from my store. 

    Older students can learn about seasons in different parts of the world! Students can research seasons across the world and then share with the group while practicing comprehension and re-tell skills. Don’t forget about idioms, too. There are so many idioms that will help you break the ice with your students and put a spring in their step. Some other seasonal idioms include: Head in the clouds, soak up the sun, it’s raining cats and dogs, a bad apple, apple of someone’s eye, tip of the iceberg, under the weather.

    For more ideas by season, check out some of my previous blog posts and materials. 

    Learn about themed therapy and how you can plan speech therapy lessons for younger and older students.

    What Monthly Speech Therapy Themes do You Use for Younger and Older Students?

    Learn about themed therapy and how you can plan speech therapy lessons for younger and older students.

    Themed planning is a fun an efficient way to plan for your students- no matter how old they are and no matter what they’re working on. Streamline your planning by choosing themes you can use across your caseload. What theme do you find to be a hit with all of your students? Share your themed therapy with us on social media!

    10 Themes Older Students in Speech Therapy Will Love

    10 Themes Older Students in Speech Therapy Will Love

    Keeping students engaged in activities is one of the most important factors in successful therapy. Anyone who works with older students knows that engagement can be extremely challenging. So, how can we keep our older students engaged? By using motivating material that is relevant and important to them. Themed therapy allows for just this. Themes can be curriculum related, seasonal, or related to preferred topics. For our older students, it’s helpful to weed out some of the themes they might already know about and the themes they may view as “baby-like.” I went through my list of themes and chose the top 10 themes older students will DIG in their speech therapy sessions. I’ve also included some simple ideas to get you started with themes for your older students.

    Over 100 Themes to Give You Inspiration for Speech Therapy Planning

    Trying to get organized with the themes you want to plan this school year, but need some inspiration? Download this Free SLP planner and idea guide for themed therapy. There are over 100 seasonal and nonseasonal themes to help give you ideas with what to plan for your speech therapy groups. 

    10 Themes Older Students Will LOVE

    Speech therapy for older students can be easier with these 10 themes!


    1. Food

    There are so many activities and targets regarding a food theme in our everyday lives! Make your activities full of hands-on learning. Find a recipe, gather ingredients, and make something delicious with your students. Kristine from Live Love Speech has some free recipes to use during speech sessions. If you’re looking for even more resources with planned, engaging lessons, check out the Themed Speech Therapy Membership which includes a food theme. 

    2. Video games

    So many of my students love video games! I, on the other hand, do not know much about it. This becomes a perfect opportunity for your students to work on their sentence formation and narrative skills! If they’re working on speech sounds, have them explain the video game using their best speech. Look up articles on Wonderopolis or Newsela about video games. Here’s one video game related article that I’ve used!

    Video games are also a great conversation topic for students-do they like video games, what’s their favorite, why is it their favorite, and more. As a group, they can try to make their own video game! They’ll need to use flexible thinking and follow a group plan to do so.


    Themes Older Students Can Relate to in Speech Therapy

    3. Shoes

    Use shoes and/or fashion trends as a theme. Talk about how shoes may change based on weather or season, where they buy their shoes and more. Learn about How Shoes are Made on Wonderopolis. You can also have students design their own shoes! Grab paper and coloring materials or use the Nike website to design them! Students can work on their own then describe their shoes to others, or they can work in pairs or groups! Plus, you can work on goals while learning the history of shoes.

    4. Sports

    There are so many different sports and so many different teams. This theme allows students to share about their favorite sport or learn about a new sport. They can work on vocabulary, sequencing, summarizing, and more! How many words with their speech sounds can they brainstorm that are involved in their favorite sport?

    They can learn about the history of their sports, like basketball. Not to mention, sports are a great conversation topic! Who plays sports? What sports do they play or like? What’s their favorite team? 

    If you’re looking for even more resources with planned, engaging lessons, check out the Themed Speech Therapy Membership that includes a sports theme.

    Get 10 themes to use in speech therapy for your older students.

    Speech Therapy Themes About Community and Culture

    Check out 10 themes older students in speech therapy will love!

    5. Culture/Ethnicity

    Plan activities where students can share about their own culture/ethnicity. This allows students to work on sentence formation, summarizing, and narrative skills. They can also learn about other cultures and therefore work on their comprehension skills! Like other topics, this allows for some awesome conversation in groups. 

    For example, you could talk about holidays around the world, how cultures celebrate New Year, or traveling around the world.

    Connect this theme with the food theme! What food is popular in their culture? 

    Search Newsela or Wonderopolis to find some helpful articles.

    6. Occupations

    For younger students, I’ll use “Community Helpers” as a theme. While this is helpful across all ages, older students may find it more interesting if you talk about all jobs and occupations. What do they want to be when they grow up? What jobs do they want to learn about? What do these jobs entail? Use different resources like YouTube to learn about different jobs. For example, learn about engineers by watching this video

    Nonseasonal Themes You Can Use Any Time of the School Year

    7. Role Models/Celebrities

    Everyone has someone they look up to! Who do your students look up to? Why? Is it someone they know, or someone famous? Have them talk or write about their role model. What are facts about this person and what are some of their opinions about this person? 

    In this theme, you could also talk about famous people-current day or historical. What made them famous? Have them write or record a quick biography about a famous person, then share it with the group. What questions would they ask each person? 

    Search Newsela or Wonderopolis to find some helpful articles.

    8. Responsibilities

    As we grow up, we all have responsibilities-at home, at school, and eventually at work. What responsibilities do they have at home? At school? Use these responsibilities/chores to work on sequencing and summarizing. Ask them more opinion-based questions like why are responsibilities important? What’s the easiest or the worst chore?

    Check out the Themed Speech Therapy Membership that includes a chores theme.

    Learn about themed therapy that you can plan for your older speech therapy students

    Incorporating Speech and Language Goals with Science and Music

    Learn how to plan for your older students who are in speech therapy.

    9. STEM Activities

    Multisensory learning is (in my opinion) the best kind of learning. Stem activities and science experiments are fun ways to use multisensory learning in sessions. Do experiments and learn how things work. During these hands-on activities, students can identify what materials they need, steps to take, make predictions and more. After, they can explain what happened and why it happened. 

    Kristine from Live Love Speech has an amazing resource for science experiments in speech! You can also read some tips from Perfect Blend Teaching

    10. Music

    Finally, MUSIC! Tie in pop culture to your sessions. Use this as a conversation starter with your students. Do they like music? What are some of their favorite songs and/or artists?

    Students can make their own music using Chrome Music Lab!

    In addition, students can learn more about the singers they listen to every day. Look up lyrics to songs (if they’re appropriate). What do the lyrics mean? Can they find their sound in the lyrics? Can they find figurative language in the music? Some songs that are appropriate for students are: What Do I Know by Ed Sheeran, Can’t Stop The Feeling by Justin Timberlake, Roar by Katy Perry, Pompeii by Bastille, and My Universe by Coldplay and BTS. 

    Need More Themed Therapy Ideas for Your Speech Therapy Caseload?

    If you loved these themed therapy ideas for your older students and want more inspiration, check out the 30 themes you can do for speech therapy. Don’t forget to grab your free-themed therapy SLP planner and idea guide to have a list of over 100 seasonal and nonseasonal themes to make planning for the school year easier.

    When working with older students, it may feel challenging to keep students engaged but themes allow for targets that are relevant and engaging. There are so many different themes you can use with your older students. What are some of your favorites? Share with us in the comments what themes you use!

    Learn about themes for older students you are serving on your speech therapy caseload.
    Pet-Themed Speech Therapy Activities

    Pet-Themed Speech Therapy Activities

    I’ve started to notice a pattern in my line of questions when I get to know a new student… who else lives at your home? Do you have any pets? This quickly starts a conversation about the pet they have, the pet they want, and/or the pets they cannot have. It made me realize that pets are not only relevant to most children, but they’re also super engaging for them. Either way, they share about their own pets or learn more about other people’s pets. As speech therapists, we can use this to our advantage! A pet-themed speech therapy unit can be used with all ages and to address a variety of skills.

    You can find materials for pet-themed activities almost anywhere, usually for a decent price! Not to mention, there are many options, no matter how simple or complex your activity is. Plus, this is a great theme that can be used any time of year!

    I’ve already shared my favorite Dog Themed activities. So today, I wrote this post to share my favorite pet-themed: books, play activities, games, highlights from the SLP-Themed Therapy Membership, crafts, digital activities, and language activities. 


    This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links for your convenience. I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

    Pet Themed Books for Speech Therapy

    With a little bit of preparation, you can use themed books during sessions and target speech, receptive language, expressive language, and even in social language! The Themed SLP Membership includes cheat sheets and story maps for themed books. 

    There are so many different pet-themed books for speech therapy you can read with your students. Here’s a list of some of my favorites. 




    Get recommendations for pet-themed books you can use for speech therapy!

    If you are looking to plan your whole year with themed units, I recommend these top 30 themes with a free themed therapy SLP planner. 

    Pet-Themed Speech Therapy Activity Ideas

    Get ideas for your pet-themed speech therapy unit and plan engaging lessons for your preschool and elementary caseload!

    For your younger students, you’ll want to find some pet-themed play-based activities. Here’s a list of some of my top picks:

    • My all-time favorite B. Pet Vet Toy or Critter Clinic is a must. Keep in mind, it only comes with 2 “pets” so you might want to find 2 additional pets for yours. Critter Clinic is such a versatile toy for play-based speech therapy. 
    • With this toy and a play based cheat sheet, you’ll be ready to go!  
    • Grab some pet stuffed animals & talk about how you’ll care for them, feed them, and play with them. Try to find some cheap “themed pet props”—bowl for food, toys for the animals, collar, leash, tank, and more (lots of these things are at Dollar Tree.)
    • Melissa & Doug Pet Puzzle (with sound) …hide the pieces in a sensory bin, talk about what pets they find, and what noises they make!


    Learn more about pet-themed activities for preschoolers and your entire elementary speech therapy caseload.

    Themed Therapy SLP Membership Highlights

    Become a Themed Therapy SLP member and have pet-themed speech therapy activities for your prek-5th grade caseload.

    The Themed Therapy SLP Membership has Pet Themed activities for Pre-K to 5th Grade with activities prepared for you to work with students with a variety of needs and goals. The activities include:

    • Literacy ideas with story maps and book cheat sheets
    • Sequencing Stories
    • Worksheets for speech and language
    • Boom cards
    • Short Stories and Nonfiction passages
    • Grammar & vocab activities
    • Lesson plan cheat sheet
    • Newsletters for parents
    • Toy Guide
    • Open Ended Games
    • Crafts to make a fishbowl, paper plate dog and tissue paper pet!

    Digital Speech Therapy Activities for a Pet-Theme

    As much fun as play-based activities are, I still enjoy using technology and digital-based activities in my sessions. Here are some pet-themed ideas: 

    • Some apps I would recommend:
    • YouTube videos to check out:
      • Simon’s Cat is always a huge hit with my students. I’ve used it to work on expanding utterances, describing, vocabulary skills, inferencing skills, speech sounds, and even more. Use my cheat sheets to help!
      • Pip: A Short Animated Film by Southeastern Guide Dogs is a great video to share with students. Have them narrate the video using their descriptive vocabulary, grammar targets, or speech sounds. This is also a great video with a clear problem and solution as well as a great lesson!
      Find pet themed digital activities for your next teletherapy session.
      • Online Games:
        • Panic in Pet Paradise on ABCYa involves inferencing, and following directions and can easily incorporate pet vocabulary, a variety of grammar targets (prepositions, negation, etc.), and speech sounds.
        • Giant Hamster Run on ABCYa involves many actions words (jump, slide, run, move), prepositions (under, next to, above, etc), verb tenses, and more!

      Easy Crafts for a Pet Theme

      Use crafts during your themed therapy sessions! Before you do the craft, think about your student’s goals. How can you elicit target sounds or language targets before, during, and after making your craft? 

      • Paper Plate Pets: Grab some paper plates, construction paper, crayons, scissors, and glue and make a paper plate pet. Ask your students what pets they have or want, and they can create the pet of their choice with paper plates and other materials. Don’t forget to ask their pet’s name! There are visual supports for a goldfish and dog craft in the Themed Therapy SLP membership
      • Did anyone else paint a “pet rock” when they were little? Bring some nostalgia to your sessions and have your students paint some pets of their own. Encourage them to use their imagination. What does their pet do? What will it need? What will they name it?
      • Pet Store Fish: Cut out fish shapes for your students to decorate. When they’re done, they’ll put them in bags. You can even have the back of the bag blue to make it seem like water. When you seal the bag, add a piece of paper with the pet’s name, type of fish, birthday, and a list of care instructions.
      Have visual supports for a goldfish paper plate craft for speech therapy

      Language Activities to Teach Pet-Themed Vocabulary

      Dog washing sequencing language activities for speech therapy
      • Seasonal flipbooks includes “All About Pets” flipbook.
      • Boom Cards were such a lifesaver during the pandemic that I still use them during my sessions! Here are a few pet-related boom cards that you can use to target language:
        • Dog Sequencing on How to Wash a Dog
        • Mystery Word Game…Have your students describe the scene with their pet vocabulary and grammar targets. After you figure out the mystery words, have them explain how they found the answer.


      Pets are a part of so many people’s lives. They become family members of many households! It only makes sense that we use pets as a theme in our therapy. What ideas do you have for your pet-themed speech therapy? Share them with us on Instagram or Facebook!


      Speech Articulation Disorders with Themes – Tips for How to Do It!

      Speech Articulation Disorders with Themes – Tips for How to Do It!

      It can feel relatively easy to come up with language-based activities using speech therapy themes. When it comes to theme planning with speech sound disorders, it can be tricky to brainstorm target words, get enough trials and keep your students engaged. There are lots of pros and cons when using a theme-based approach for articulation-based activities. You can listen to more about these pros and cons on this podcast episode

      I do have some tricks up my sleeve for using themes with speech sound disorders! I’ve already shared my FREE-themed word lists for Back to School, All About Me, and Pumpkins to give some ideas but that’s just a starting point to making this therapy easier, more effective, and more fun. So today, I am sharing my best tips for using themes with speech sound disorders.

      Tip #1: Picking the Right Themes for Speech Articulation Disorders

      Get 5 tips for how to use themes with your speech sound disorder goals!

      Pick themes that have a lot of vocabulary options so that you can adapt to various speech sounds. For example, food is an excellent theme because you can target a LOT of different sounds…recipe, ingredients, pot, mix, hot, cook, oven, stove, vegetables, fruits, chef, restaurant, kitchen, juice, wheat, healthy, knife, bake, taste, delicious, sugar, sour, measure and so many more. The Themed SLP Membership includes a food theme in June with lists of articulation and phonology words, lists of target words in food-related books, and more.


      Another option when picking a theme for articulation and phonology is being more specific in your choice of a theme. You can choose a theme that has its sound in its name. For example, a Superhero or Spider theme would be great for kids working on /s/ or /r/. A Picnic theme would be great for kids working on /p/ or /k/.

      Tip #2 Drill First, Play Later with Speech Sounds

      Structure your sessions strategically when using speech therapy themes. 

      Students can start their sessions by doing structured drills for a set amount of time, like 5-10 minutes. The second half of your session will involve a themed activity such as a sensory bin, pretend play, toy, or hands-on activity in which you can embed more natural practice with the student. 

      When you do drills as your first activity, you can get a burst of high trials, so you aren’t as stressed about getting the repetitions during the second activity.

      You can use themes with your speech articulation disorders and we give 5 tips for how to do it!

      Tip #3 Find Sound Loaded Materials within your Theme

      Get free theme speech therapy sound word lists for back to school, all about me, and pumpkins

      Find YouTube videos, and non-fiction passages or create stories related to a theme with words that have their speech sound. For example, if doing a summer theme, find a reading passage on NewsELA about lemonade for /l/ sounds, or use a themed word list to have students create short stories. For a list of summer-themed YouTube videos to use in speech, you will find a bunch in this free download

      Another activity I love is going on a sound hunt with my students using different themed materials. Go on a sound hunt in themed pictures scenes. You can also go on sound hunts in themed books. 

      For example, students can go on a sound hunt while reading “At the Supermarket.” A student can look through pictures and listen to the story while searching for pictures or words with their /l/ sound. They’d find the words roll, like, lettuce, loaf, little, laundry, cold, vanilla, yellow, all, bottle, and full

      If you’re looking for books with specific speech sounds, try using Ashley Rossi’s book search feature

      Recently, an SLP shared in the FREE Themed Therapy SLP Facebook group that she will switch out some of the words in the text that has the child’s sound to maximize opportunities for auditory bombardment and practice. This is a great way to adapt materials so it’s more suited to your student’s needs!

      Tip #4 Give Challenge Words Related to the Themed Activity

      If you are doing a speech therapy theme activity that doesn’t feel aligned with your student’s speech sounds, make a short list of challenge words that they could use during the activity.

      For example, if you’re playing a treasure hunt game or with a pirate sensory bin, and your student is working on r-blends, have them say “treasure” or “I found a treasure, I didn’t find a treasure.” when playing.

      If you’re doing a beach theme and targeting “CH,” have a “beach bag” and play a mystery game to work on inference. Every round, the child could say “What’s in the beach bag?” or explaining if you can or can’t take the item to the beach.

      Get tips for how to use themes with articulationspeech disorders

      Tip #5 Use Themed Open-Ended Reinforcers with Your Speech Articulation Disorder Students

      Learn how to use speech therapy themes for your articulation and phonology disorders

      Like many (if not most) SLPs know, many of our groups are mixed with students with language goals, speech sound disorders, and phonological disorders. Planning for all these different goals can be challenging. While using speech therapy themes can be helpful, sometimes you might find that you’re using an approach that doesn’t have many targets aligned with your theme. Try using themed open-ended reinforcers that have themed vocabulary. You can easily adapt these with different speech words! This could be a beach-related board game or a pirate ship game.

      Overall, speech therapy themes can be a game changer when it comes to planning sessions. It can feel challenging when planning for themed sessions when working with articulation or phonological disorders. Start by picking the right theme with the target sounds in mind, then choose how you want your students to practice their sounds. 

      What are your tips for using themes with speech articulation disorders? Share with us on social media!