Dog Themed Games for Speech Therapy

Dog Themed Games for Speech Therapy

A pet or dog theme is one of the best themes you can plan for your speech therapy caseload! Kids love dogs, and it’s an easy theme to adapt to. Plus, there are LOTS of dog-themed game and toy options, making planning for mixed groups easier! Today, I want to share a round-up of all the best dog-themed games and toys you can use with preschool and elementary students. 

The cool thing about using a dog theme is that you can plan it anytime! If you need more year-round preschool themes, I got you covered in this blog post

How Many Themed Games and Toys Do I Need For My Speech Therapy Caseload?


If you are just getting started with planning by themes, do not read this blog post and think you have to purchase EVERY dog toy and game shared. You are likely on a budget and don’t need every toy to make a theme-based approach work well.

When looking for themed games and toys, you want to consider the price and how adaptable it is for your caseload.

If it can be used for a wide range of skills and ages, that’s a plus! Or, if it provides fun manipulatives that you can use with the game rules or adapt for other activities like sensory bins, that is something to think about too!

And, if you score it at a Thrift store, even better!

 I try only to purchase themed toys and games to fill an area on my caseload. For example, if I work with a lot of prek-2nd graders, a dog toy set is something I will probably invest in because it would be used all the time. 

Dog-Themed Toy Sets for Play-Based Speech Therapy

You will need a dog toy set if you work with the prek-2nd grade crew!

Here are some of my faves:

Struggle with how to use toys in your play-based speech therapy sessions? You will stress less when you have a toy companion cheat sheet guide to reference in your sessions. The toy companions come with a cheat sheet for a dog toy set, and the Pet Vet Hospital set. 


Pet Store Dramatic Play Setup


For those who love to transform your rooms into a themed dramatic play center, check out how to make a pet store dramatic play from Pocket of Preschool. If you want to make a dramatic Vet play-based activity, Melissa and Doug’s Pet Vet Play Set looks great!

Or, if you are teaching how to take care of dogs or need props for retelling dog-themed books, this Melissa and Doug Feeding and Grooming Pet Care Play Set would be awesome! Or, grab your dog stuffie and buy dog toys and supplies from Dollar Tree to DIY it!

Dog-Themed Games for Preschool to Early Elementary

If you are looking for dog-themed games for your preschool and early elementary caseload, here are some great speech therapy game options:

Reinforcer Speech Therapy Games for Elementary Ages


The life of an elementary SLP is filled with mixed groups! Often it’s nice to have a reinforcer speech therapy game to use in a session. Here are the dog-themed games for elementary ages:

What Dog-Themed Toys & Games Do You Use?

Do you have a dog toy or game you love using with students? How do you target speech and language goals? Please share in the comments your favorite dog toys, props, or games and how you use them in your speech therapy sessions!

Transportation Sorting Activities for Preschoolers & Kindergarten To Teach Classification

Transportation Sorting Activities for Preschoolers & Kindergarten To Teach Classification

One way you can improve vocabulary in your preschool and early elementary students is building depth of knowledge with new words. And, one of the ways you can build depth of knowledge is by teaching semantic features such as the category group, function, parts, size, location, etc. In today’s blog post, I am going to share hands-on transportation sorting activities that will help you teach classification to your students in a way that sticks! Plus, you’ll learn some takeaways from research on how you can coach teachers with these transportation activities in the classroom to build vocabulary. 


This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you use one of my affiliate links, I receive a small commission at no additional cost. 

Evidence-Based Practices for Teaching Vocabulary

Find engaging transportation activities for kindergarten

For our students to have a solid understanding of a word, they must understand it beyond just labeling it. We call this depth of knowledge. A child with a strong vocabulary has formed many connections with a word to connect it to a certain context. And when we learn new words with depth, it’s way easier to fit that new word into our semantic system. So, here are some ways  you can work on vocabulary knowledge:


  • Provide multiple exposures to words in different activities
  • Teach the words explicitly with kid-friendly definitions
  • Identify the function or feature that would fit the word into a category group
  • Break down the word by semantic features (i.e. categories, function, location, parts, size, texture, etc.) or by how they relate to a particular theme

A vocabulary intervention research study by Hadley et al., 2018 found that when students learned the words sharing semantic features, they could better talk about the vocabulary words in more detail.

The structure of their study used books and guided play to work on vocabulary, and this blog post will provide lesson plan ideas for transportation using this setup! To read more about the article, head here.

You can also hear more about teaching depth of knowledge in episode 46 of the Real Talk SLP Podcast


Transportation Books About Air, Land, and Sea 

Easy air sorting transportation activities for kindergarten speech therapy

To help your students work on classifying transportation by air, land, and sea, there are some great books you can use in your speech therapy sessions. You can use these transportation books as the teaching portion, where you provide many exposures and give kid-friendly definitions. Also, you can show your students why they go together because of a similar function or feature.

Transportation!: How People Get Around by Gail Gibbons

National Geographic Kids Look and Learn: Things that Go by National Geographic Kids

National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Things That Go by Karen de Seve


If you have GetEpic, these books are available on that website. Is there a particular transportation book you love to use with your students? Share in the comments of this blog post. 

Toys for Sorting Transportation Activities

To work on sorting transportation items by water, air, and land, having some figurines that you can use in a variety of play-based learning activities will serve you well.

Here are some transportation figurines I have:

In the Sky Toob set

In the Water Toob set

On the Road Toob set


Another option for transportation manipulatives is these magnetic portable playboards or transportation rubber fridge magnets.

Plan a transportation lesson plan for preschool with sorting activities.

How to Use the Transportation Figurines with Speech and Language Activities 


With these figurines, you can make fun sensory bin activities such as this one from Teaching Special Thinkers.

You can sort the transport items into air, land, and sea using printables from the transportation unit in the Themed Therapy SLP membership. Transportation is the themed unit for May when you are a monthly subscriber. Upgrading to the annual subscription, you can access this theme anytime during the school year. 

Another fun way to incorporate spatial concepts while working on vocabulary and categories is to make a hands-on activity from the transportation push-in language lesson plan guide like this one


While you are playing, you can add sound effects that match the definition of the words. For example, for the word fly or air, you can make a humming noise; for the word car or jeep, make a honking noise; for the word train, you can say choo-choo. This research article found that kids improved receptive and expressive language when the target words were paired with sound effects. 

Tips for Using Transportation Sorting Activities in Mixed Groups

When planning for mixed groups, we must find ways to hit LOTS of goals with one activity.

The beauty of these air, land, and sea sorting activities is easy to adapt. First off, you can target categories and sub-categories for transportation.

When considering different language goals, here are some skills you can target:

  • Describing the transportation items by attributes
  • Have more than one item to work on singular and plural noun markers
  • Build sentences with verb tense to explain by type of transportation item it is, such as “The car is driven on land.” or “The ship is an air transportation.”
  • Teach pronouns by having pictures or figurines and sharing “who” is driving or using the transportation item.
  • Target wh-questions
  • Give problems for using the vehicles and discuss solutions.

When you have articulation and phonology goals in a mixed group, think of sound-loaded words that would fit your student’s speech goals. For example, if you are working on /g/, have the student say “go” every time they sort a transportation item. Or, if working on s-blends, you can have students say, “It goes in the sky. Or it doesn’t go in the sky.” Consider vehicles that have your students sound to use while sorting transportation items.



What Transportation Sorting Activities Do You Use in Speech Therapy?


Do you have a particular book or sorting activity that you use with your transportation-themed unit? I would love to know of any props or activities you plan to engage your students with while teaching classification with transportation items. Share in the comments! 

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


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.


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.


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.

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