Best Speech Therapy Toys for Early Elementary

Best Speech Therapy Toys for Early Elementary

As speech-language pathologists, we LOVE to use toys to work on speech and language goals. Today, I want to share the best speech therapy toys to use with your early elementary students. Having speech therapy toys that are easy to adapt helps you plan more for many students in less time.

If you are new to using toys to address speech therapy goals, check out this blog post about play-based speech therapy HERE.

After reading this post, you are sure to have a list of toys that will increase engagement in your speech therapy sessions. 

Best Speech Therapy Toys for Speech and Language Goals

speech-therapy-toys-and-games

Pretend play food sets are so versatile for speech and language skills. You can use these to work on categories, describing, grammar, morphology, social communication, and speech sound goals. 

 

Amazon affiliate links are included in this blog post. I receive a small commission when you use my link at no additional charge. 

By far, the best sets for early elementary are as follows:

Melissa and Doug Ice Cream Toy Set because it has so many opportunities for social communication, and kids love talking about ice cream. This blog post shares ten ways to use this toy!

 

cookie or baking toy set can work on labeling kitchen utensils, sequencing the steps for making food, and using the food props for various goals. I have a blog post about using a cookie toy set for speech therapy HERE

solid play food set is an excellent addition to your speech therapy toys because you will use the food in so many themed units. For example, you can use food for a picnic theme, BBQ theme, pack your lunch for a school theme, or Thanksgiving dinner.

best-toy-for-speech-development

Toy Companion Cheat Sheets for Play-Based Speech Therapy

Check out The Ultimate Toy Companion Cheat Sheets to guide the SLP during play therapy (45 toy cheat sheets.) Have a speech therapy handout for all your favorite toys and games to use in treatment so that you don’t have to worry about remembering targets to use with the toys (that’s the cheat sheets job!)

Speech Therapy Toys That are Easy to Adapt

When you are looking to invest in new toy sets, you may ask yourself if you can use the toy to cover a variety of goals. And you should consider if it has a hands-on component and if it will get you opportunities for functional communication, cause-effect skills, or target cooperative play.

 

It’s an even better bonus when you can use the toy for speech sound goals!

 

Lego or Magnetic block sets are those types of toys! You can incorporate them with many goals, are hands-on, and kids dig them.

best-speech-therapy-toys

Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head and surprise party boxes from Learning Resources are easy to adapt for speech and language goals. These cause-effect toys can also entice students to want to communicate more in a session. Check out this blog post for more ideas on cause-effect toys to buy.

 

The surprise party boxes can be put in a sensory bin, hidden around your speech room, and you can conceal mini trinkets or small pictures in the boxes for any goal.

 

Mr. Potato Head can cover body parts, clothing, requesting, sequencing, and wh-questions. Check out this blog post for more ideas on how to use this toy. 

Toys that Help Language Development

Your k-2 crew with language impairments usually has several areas of need in the language domains. When you have a mixed group walk-in with a grammar, vocabulary, and comprehension goal, you want toys to target those goals together.

Using magnetic scenes is a great toy to cover story retelling, comprehension, labeling, grammar, and describing goals. Plus, your students will enjoy creating scenes, and you can use it as a barrier game. One of my favorite magnetic scenes toys is from Create-A-Scene. I also found these Magnetic Portable Playboard sets that are smaller, so you can easily transport them from site to site. 

 

You can use the Melissa and Doug Reusable Sticker Pad for a more affordable option. 

When you have students working on basic concepts, describing vocabulary and categories, and answering wh-question and syntax, you need a toy house! The Li’l Woodeez toy house from Target or the Fisher-Price Little People play house is excellent for targeting language goals. And it’s a nice break from flashcards or worksheets.

What Speech Therapy Toy Do Your Students Go Bananas For in Sessions?

If you have a toy, you find a winner with your early elementary caseload, share it in the comments below!

My biggest wins in therapy are when I can use a toy to demonstrate or elicit a speech or language skill without using flashcards.

That’s why I love hearing what toys work for your students so that other SLPs can get ideas for therapy.

Check out this blog post from Speech Room News if you work with early intervention and need toy ideas. 

 

Pirate Themed Toys for Play-Based Speech Therapy

Pirate Themed Toys for Play-Based Speech Therapy

If you love doing a pirate theme with your caseload, this blog post is about the best pirate-themed toys to use with play-based speech therapy.

Owning pirate props and toy sets can be just what you need to bring the pirate theme to life. You will find Amazon affiliate links in this blog post for your convenience. 

Pirate-Themed Games To Play With Mixed Groups

Use these pirate-themed toys to enhance your play-based speech therapy sessions

Pop Up Pirate is a fun game you can play with your mixed groups. Using this resource’s toy companion cheat sheet can help you adapt the game on the spot in your sessions.

Mystery Island Pirates is a board game where your students will be racing to get their ship to the island! You can use the game to work on handling unexpected situations, like when you land on an island with enemies and have to go back spaces.

Don’t Rock the Boat Skill and Action Game is an excellent game choice if you have a lot of goals on your caseload around social communication and vocabulary. You can use this game for turn-taking, commenting, and problem-solving. Or, you can demonstrate tier II vocabulary for balance and overboard. Because this game has penguins, you can theme smash penguins and pirates! 

Treasure Props and Dramatic Play Sets

When you have themed props with your pirate unit, you can ditch the worksheets and bring vocabulary and concepts to life.

You can use this Pirate pretend play set to work on basic concepts, acting out pirate scenes, work on noun functions, and wh-questions.

Learning Resources has a set of treasure chests that you can use to target the following goals:

Basic Concepts: open/close, quantity, colors
Verbs: look, find, hunt, lock
Tier II vocabulary: reveal, discover, treasure

Need themed therapy pirate materials for your Prek-5th Caseload?

Do you love using themes with your Prek-5th grade caseload but don’t have time to find all the needed materials? Come join the Themed Therapy SLP membership (there are monthly and annual options). You won’t have to stress about planning themed units because all the work has been done for you. The membership gives you access to 2-3 monthly themed materials, including word lists, Google Slides, No Print resources, visual supports for crafts, book cheat sheets, and printables. Check out how to become an SLP Themester HERE

Pirate-Themed Toy Sets

If you need some pirate-themed toy recommendations for your play-based speech therapy this blog post has lots of great ideas to add to your stash!

Your students will dig this kinetic sand pirate set because it is like a treasure chest sensory bin! It comes with gold sand and some jewels. Make sure you grab a tray to control the overflow of kinetic sand. If you want to add in extra gems, here is a set. You can add mini trinkets that are sound loaded for motivating practice fun! Read this blog post for more information about how to use mini items. The Themed Therapy SLP membership has a pirate unit for Prek-5th grade and has a toy companion cheat sheet for this toy! Sign up HERE.

iPlay, iLearn pirate toy set is a bit pricey, but it is a comprehensive toy set that you could use all year. You have many options for targeting speech and language goals. 

What Pirate-Themed Toy Will You Use With Your Caseload?

If you love doing a pirate theme, what toys or props do you love to use in your play-based speech therapy sessions? Share any fun pirate-theme toys or materials you have found to be a success for your therapy sessions in the comments. For more pirate-themed speech therapy ideas, check out this blog post

Plan your pirate-themed unit with hands-on therapy props and toys! Your next speech therapy session will be filled with engagement using these themed toys.
Ice Cream Preschool Activities for Speech Therapy

Ice Cream Preschool Activities for Speech Therapy

Eating ice cream on a hot summer day is something that many of your students experience on break!

That’s why it is a great theme to plan during the summer months.

Whether you need quick low prep digital activities or ideas for hands-on speech therapy ideas, this blog post will share engaging ice cream preschool activities for your speech therapy sessions!

Hands-On Ice Cream Preschool Activities

Struggling to come up with ice cream preschool activities that will engage your students in speech therapy sessions? Check out this blog post with different therapy ideas to use with an ice cream theme.

Your speech therapy lessons will always be more engaging if you find ways to make them hands-on. Use ice cream playdough mats for an easy-to-prep activity covering many speech and language goals. The mats pictured are from the ice cream push-in lesson plan guides. Here are some ideas for using the playdough mats:

-Following directions
-Commenting, requesting, and describing by attributes
-Reinforcer for any goal, or they can earn playdough or decoration after practicing their sounds
-Demonstrate basic concepts for the middle, bottom, on top, on, off
-Sequencing the steps for making an ice cream cone

Create an ice cream sensory bin using this kinetic sand set from Lakeshore Learning, or add white cotton balls, cups, ice cream scoop, colorful mini pom balls, or cut-up rainbow straws.

Easy to adapt ice cream preschool activities for speech therapy!

Ice Cream Themed Unit for Prek-5th Grade

Using a theme-based approach for your entire elementary caseload can help you plan more efficiently with therapy. But, it can become time-consuming hunting down enough activities to cover preschool through 5th grade. Because I don’t want time to be why you don’t use themes to serve your students, I created a Themed Therapy SLP membership to help take themed therapy planning off your plate. When you sign up for the membership, you get access to three monthly themes that have everything you need to cover goals on your caseload. See the pictures below for some of the ice cream-themed activities you can use for July. Doors re-open for the membership on July 22nd. Get on the waitlist HERE.

Have an Ice Cream Party in Speech Therapy

Struggling to come up with ice cream preschool activities that will engage your students in speech therapy sessions? Check out this blog post with different therapy ideas to use with an ice cream theme.

You can plan a real ice cream party with your students, which can be great for wh-questions and social pragmatic language. As a whole class lesson, you can map out all the details and then work on speech and language goals during the ice cream party in the next session.

If you don’t have the money to do a real ice cream party, use a pretend play set and invite your student’s favorite stuffies and characters to an ice cream party. Or, you can take a trip to the ice cream shop. I love the set from Melissa and Doug, but there are many playsets on Amazon (Amazon affiliate links are included for your convenience.)

Need more ideas for how to use an ice cream play set? Check out this blog post.

Digital Ice Cream Preschool Activities

Whether in person or teletherapy, digital apps and tools can help increase engagement and keep therapy low prep for you!

ABCya and the My Ice Cream Maker app are great for teaching sequencing for making an ice cream cone. You can also work on the following skills:

-Following directions
-Describing by color, size, texture
-Making an ice cream cone for someone else to work on perspective taking and conversation
-Answering wh-questions
-Use sound-loaded words or phrases to work on speech sounds in a naturalistic activity

Sago Mini has a fun fair app that features an ice cream cart to make your own flavors.

Get some ideas for digital ice cream preschool activities you can use in your mixed groups for speech therapy.

If you are looking for language Boom Cards that focus on various skills, check out these ice cream sequencing Boom Cards. Some of the activities may be more advanced for the preschool level. Still, the three and four-step sequencing activities work on basic temporal concepts (i.e., first, next, then), and there is also an emphasis on targeting verbs and vocabulary related to ice cream.

Based on research sharing that focusing on a broad set of language skills leads to better reading comprehension, you can approach language therapy to target various skills in one digital activity.

Needing More Summer Speech Therapy Ideas for Preschool?

Ice cream isn’t the only summer theme that works well for preschool-aged students! There are lots of other play themes you can use. To read more about that, check out this blog post

Research articles:

Lervåg, A. , Hulme, C. and Melby‐Lervåg, M. (2017). Unpicking the developmental relationship between oral language skills and reading comprehension: It’s simple, but complex. Child Development. Advance online publication. doi:10.1111/cdev.12861

Hadley, E. B., Dickinson, D. K., Hirsch-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. M. (2018). Building semantic networks: The impact of a vocabulary intervention on preschoolers’ depth of word knowledge. Reading Research Quarterly. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.225

Pool-Themed Play Therapy Toy Ideas for SLPs

Pool-Themed Play Therapy Toy Ideas for SLPs

Going to the pool is always top of mind when you think of summer-themed activities. Cooling off on hot summer days at the pool is an activity many of your students have experienced during summer camps or with family.

Using a play-based activity that your students can relate to makes the session more meaningful. You can reinforce vocabulary and concepts they will use at the pool, making therapy functional.

Today, you will learn about different pool-themed play therapy ideas that you can use to cover your student’s speech and language goals.

Where to Find Pool-Themed Play Therapy Toy Sets

Need summer-themed play therapy ideas for your speech sessions? Check out how to use these pool-themed play toy sets in your play-based therapy sessions.

Having pool-themed play props brings to life concepts related to swimming. I hunted around for pool toy sets and found some affordable and not too big.

If you need a mini pool and slide, this Barbie pool playset is perfect for adding different items that float. Or you can pull out other figurines like Little People, farm animals, or dinosaurs to use with the pool.

When I bought this pool set, I got it 50% off, so it was worth the price. But, if it wasn’t on sale, you may want to check out these other pool sets especially if you don’t want the Barbie that comes with it! 

For your friends who enjoy Peppa Pig or Bluey, these pool playsets are around the $20 or less range and have enough pool elements to cover many speech and language goals. The Peppa Pig set is nice because the pool folds up, making it an excellent travel toy set. At the same time, the Bluey pool set is a little more awkward in size but has innertubes.

You can also make a DIY pool party play set by filling up a container with water. To add pool party supplies, you can add rubber ducks, cut-up felt for a towel, and people figurines to go swimming.

Need Toy Cheat Sheet Companions to Help You Adapt Toys on the Fly?

If you are juggling many different goals in mixed groups and don’t have time to create elaborate lesson plans, try using toy companion cheat sheets.

Play therapy cheat sheets have been a game-changer for jogging my memory for targets to use in therapy. There are over 30 toy cheat sheets, and I will add more as I get requests from you!

And, if you want themed toy guides with sensory bin cheat sheets, check out the Themed Therapy SLP membership. Doors re-open July 22nd. There is a sensory bin and toy guide for a swimming theme for July!

Targeting Speech Sound Goals with the Pool Play Set

When using a toy in play-based therapy for speech sound goals, you want to keep a quick list of words with your student’s target sound nearby!

You can get a lot of trials using this method. For example, if you are having items go down the slide into the pool and working on the phonological process of fronting, you can have students say, “go, cool off, or look.” Similarly, when targeting cluster reduction, you can use “slide, splash, slip, or swish” as the people or items go down the slide.”

Use mini trinkets and throw them in the pool set. Have students use their figurines for swimming around the pool to find the items. Using sound-specific mini trinkets, you can have students practice their sounds when they swim by one.

Need summer-themed play therapy ideas for your speech sessions? Check out how to use these pool-themed play toy sets in your play-based therapy sessions.

Targeting Language Concepts with a Pool-Themed Play Therapy Toy Set

Need summer-themed play therapy ideas for your speech sessions? Check out how to use these pool-themed play toy sets in your play-based therapy sessions.

Whenever you use themed props in your play-based therapy, there are many opportunities to work on basic concepts and word opposites. If you need more ideas on where to find themed props, check out this blog post for some ideas.

With the pool playset, you can use the slides to target up/down, in/out, wet/dry, fast/slow, and over/under as word opposite targets.

Target verb actions such as dive, splash, swim, jump, throw, eat, dry, wrap
Work on describing vocabulary words related to a pool theme such as a towel, diving board, lemonade, innertube, basketball, goggles, sunscreen, umbrella, and floaty.

During play, you can work on social pragmatic language for turn-taking, initiation, commenting, emotions, and problem-solving with pool-related situations.

Create a fun story related to swimming and target oral narration as well as targeting sequencing skills for putting on sunscreen, diving in the pool, or eating a frozen treat after swimming.

AAC CORE words to work on with a Pool Play Therapy Activity

Need summer-themed play therapy ideas for your speech sessions? Check out how to use these pool-themed play toy sets in your play-based therapy sessions.

When working with themed playsets, knowing which target CORE words you want to work on before heading into a session is nice. A cheat sheet list will help you remember to model those words on the student’s device.

Just like with the suggestions for speech sound disorders, you want a cheat sheet list of phrases and words you would like to work on during play. As you play, you can follow the child’s lead and model words on your cheat sheet. Some terms that would work well with this playset are go, stop, more, wait, like/don’t like, what, fun, up, down, don’t, and big.

What goals would you target with a pool play set?

Share some of your pool-themed therapy ideas in the comments. You can help your fellow speech pathologists get inspired with play therapy ideas by sharing your therapy ideas! If you need more summer ideas, check out these blog posts:

Play Themes for the Summer Months

Best Summer YouTube Videos for Speech Therapy (with free download)

Summer-Themed Books to Use in Speech

Crafts to Use with a Summer-Theme

Cause and Effect Toys For Play Therapy

Cause and Effect Toys For Play Therapy

Cause and effect toys teach children that their actions can cause something to happen. When a child blows in a bubble wand, bubbles fly out; when a child pushes a car into a tower of blocks, it falls.

Using cause and effect toys in speech therapy can help your students build language. Still, it can also increase attention span, create curiosity, and improve joint attention skills. Today, I am going to share some of my favorite cause and effect toys you can use to help increase engagement while also working on speech and language goals!

What Toys Do You Have In Your Therapy Stash?

Some of the BEST cause and effect toys are the ones that you already have in your speech therapy material stash. A set of blocks and anything to knock them down work wonders! Amazon affiliate links are included for your convenience.

I found these wooden blocks at the Dollar tree and grabbed some of my cars. While stacking the blocks, you can work on “up, more, exclamations (i.e., oh, yay) and stack.”

Stacking cups, blocks, or boxes are also versatile for teaching tall/short, hiding things under, and using pretend play bowls. This set from Brilliant Basics Stack and Roll Cups is under $10 and can be stacked or put together as a ball to roll.

For a set of stacking boxes, Melissa and Doug have a set under $15, but these Babies Dinosaur Stacking Blocks have openings to put dinosaurs. You work on stacking, up/down, and in/out.

Cause and effect toys can improve language, executive functioning, and joint attention. Not to mention using cause and effect toys are super fun for children.

Play Therapy Cheat Sheets

Check out the toy companion cheat sheets if you serve students with various goals and want to start using ONE toy to cover many target areas. There are toy companions for stacking cups, cars, and over 30 types of toys and games (new toy companion cheat sheets are added to the resource as you send in requests.)

Cause and Effect Toys That Provide a Surprise

Toys that have a surprise are great for improving joint attention. Kids love the anticipation of finding what’s inside. You can also be super animated with your facial expressions to share in the “surprise” and excitement.

For SLPs on a budget, grabbing some plastic eggs at the Dollar Tree or Walmart during the Easter holiday is excellent for hiding mini items or pictures inside. You can read here are you can use those eggs with a chicken theme.

You also can use plastic cups to hide items underneath. If you are looking for things to add to a sensory bin, check out the toys from Learning Resources. The Surprise Party presents are great for a birthday theme. They also have other versions, such as acornspicnic baskets, or farm animals.

Need a toy companion for these surprise party boxes? They are included in the toy companion cheat sheet guides!

Toys that Encourage Children to Request More of an Action

Cause and effect toys can improve language, executive functioning, and joint attention. Not to mention using cause and effect toys are super fun for children.

When you use cause and effect toys that spark your student’s curiosity to want to do it again, you have some golden opportunities to work on communication!

And, if they need the item or help from you to watch that action happen, you can work on functional communication such as help, want, go, more, or gestures to signal to make that action happen again.

My two favorite toys for sparking some curiosity are ball poppers and wind-up toys (part of the toy companion cheat sheets.)

You can work on using verbal routines (i.e., ready, set, go), target CORE vocabulary (i.e., go, again, more, turn), turn-taking, joint attention, and social communication (i.e., funny, help me.)

What are Your Favorite Toys to Work on Cause and Effect?

What toys do you use to work on cause and effect in speech therapy? Your recommendations for toys are always the best. Share in the comments so other SLPs can find toys that will help plan their next speech therapy session.

If you need more toy and play therapy ideas, you can always search “toys” in the search bar or check out blog posts HERE

Cause and effect toys can improve language, executive functioning, and joint attention. Not to mention using cause and effect toys are super fun for children.
7 Places to Find Props for Your Themes

7 Places to Find Props for Your Themes

Looking for a way to level up your students’ engagement during your themed therapy lessons? Look no more, themester SLP! I LOVE incorporating themed therapy props into my lessons, and my students love using them. A themed therapy prop is a toy or item that relates to your theme or the characters in your theme-related books. For example, when doing a snowman theme, I always love using the book, “Sneezy the Snowman.” So, I decided to find a plush snowman toy to use as a themed prop for story retell. You can read this BLOG post to learn how to make your own snowman story prop kit

Before you go looking for themed therapy props, keep in mind that you don’t need to break the bank to make your theme a success. Many times you can use items you already have from toy sets or household items as a prop for the themed activity. 

Some of the product links in this blog are my Amazon affiliate link. Whenever you use an affiliate link, I will earn a commission from the product at no additional cost to you!

How Can the Themed Therapy Prop Be Used in Speech Therapy

There are tons of ways you can use themed therapy props across your lessons. Here are just some of my favorite ways to incorporate props into speech therapy:

  1. Use your small toys and items as story props while you read your themed book. Check out how I used a hedgehog for the book Apple Trouble here
  2. Props are a great way to act out verb actions with your students. 
  3. Use the themed therapy prop to demonstrate basic concepts. For example, these penguin figurines and styrofoam for showing on top, bottom, on/off, next to, behind, in front, first, and last (will send link to that blog post when done.)
  4. Answer “what” and “where” questions with the props. If you have a turkey, you can put items in front of the turkey and ask the students, “What is the turkey holding?” To see more ideas for using a turkey in your sessions, check out this post.

7 Places to Find Props for Themed Therapy

  1. This may sound crazy, but you must check out the dog sections at Ross, TJ Maxx, or Amazon. I found the St. Patrick’s Day dog toys at TJ Maxx and this fun squirrel log toy on Amazon from Zippy Paws. Because I LOVE doing a squirrel theme every year, it was worth the purchase for me.
  2. Oriental Trading Company has tons of small toys and items that will be perfect for your themed therapy props! This is where I found my plush snowman (Amazon also has lots of great plush toys).
  3. Beanie Babies – You can find a LOT of characters for books or themes like ocean animals, pets, or arctic animals. Plus, you may be able to borrow some from your own kids stash!
  4. Kohl CARES has great character plush toys that go with some of your favorites like the caterpillar for “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle, which is great for an insect theme.
Increase engagement using props to your themed therapy activities! Check out all the places to find themed therapy props.

5. Get ready to Thrift! Thrift stores can be an affordable solution for finding themed figurines or plush toys. Just recently, I was able to snag a bunch of puppy plush toys for my dog-themed unit.

6. Join and scour some Mom Facebook Groups – Join some local mom Facebook groups and put a post out for some items you may be looking for using in therapy. When you add that you are an SLP and need it for kids, I bet some mom’s will clean out their closet for you!

7. Give the Dollar Tree and 5 Below a visit. You can look at these discount stores for toy props to use with your themes. If you have students with special interests such as Peppa Pig, you can find some Peppa props from 5 Below. Have Peppa participate in the themed play unit, like taking care of pets. Or, Peppa can go visit the penguins! Dollar Tree always has seasonal props for holidays and times of the year. For example, in the spring, you can always find props and items for your insect themed unit

Want help with Planning Your Themed Therapy Sessions?

In need of some more tips on how to plan themed therapy lessons for your elementary caseload, I want to invite you to a FREE LIVE webinar training where I share a simple framework to help you plan your sessions efficiently. No more analysis paralysis when it comes to figuring out what you will do in therapy!

 Increase engagement using props to your themed therapy activities! Check out all the places to find themed therapy props.

Where Do You Find Props for Themes?

Do you have a favorite source for themed therapy props? Let me know in the comments below! I love hearing from other SLP’s and learning about new places to look for fun toys for my students!

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