In real life, I am not a fan of spiders, or any creepy insects for that matter. If I see a spider crawl out of a cupboard or found in a dark corner in a bag in the garage, I literally freak out like someone is attacking me!
Can you relate? In our old house, our garage was known to have black widows, so if I saw one of those gnarly things, I went into a panic: hurry, kill it quick! Daddy long legs and small spiders don’t seem to bring on the panic, but when I hear people say that humans actually eat 8 spiders a year in their sleep, it kinda wants to make me gag. Who knows if that statistic is even true, but I don’t really want to think about it at the moment.
Anyways, the whole reason I bring up “spiders” is to tell you that it is a great theme to use in your speech therapy room. There are lots of great books, crafts, YouTube videos and activities you can use to work on speech and language skills. As long as they are fake, spiders are allowed in my therapy room. How about you? Today I am going to be sharing about spider activities for speech that can be your October theme–this is especially helpful if your school is not able to plan Halloween activities. If you need some Halloween ideas for therapy, check out some of my previous blog posts for therapy ideas:
There are some really great books with spiders as the main character that you can use in speech. Here are some of my favorites to use in therapy:
Aaarrggh Spider by Lydia Monk (affiliate link) is a great story about a spider that wants to be this family’s pet. It is great for answering comprehension questions and story retell. It also works on perspective taking and how the spider feels verses the family. The spider doesn’t understand why the family freaks out every time they see him.
The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle (affiliate link) is a great book to work on sequencing and teach verbs such as “spin,” “ride,” “eat,” and “run.” This book is also great for teaching the animal category. You can use the pictures in the book to work on describing the animals by attributes and what they are doing or where they are located.
Spider Activities For Speech
Students can use spider webs while working on their speech and language targets.
You can do spider races to work on go/stop (CORE vocab), target the verb “blow”, and teach the basic concept “across”. Read this blog post for more pics and details.
For your students working on functional communication and language skills, use a Visual Recipe from Live Love Speech to make this adorable spider snack. I loved having the visuals to target wh-questions, and vocabulary. Then, while the kids eat their snack, we tried to get some natural conversation going.
Using Spider Crafts In Speech
Make a crawly spider in speech. Students can practice following directions while making this spider craft. You just cut out black circles for the head, get the spider face printable on this blog post (free printable), and then cut black strips of construction paper (affiliate link). The students fold the construction paper back and forth to make the legs. You can work on simple sequencing of how to make the craft, practice the basic concepts “on”, “before”, and “after” while doing the craft. After creating the craft, you can work on asking which pictures are near the spider’s head and far from the spider’s head.
Students can glue speech or language targets on the spider’s leg. Keep the spider crafts as decor or use them as the warm up for the next session. Send them home for additional practice. I used my Any Craft Companion Pack to have targets for the craft. If you are short on prep time, have students write their targets using white crayon or colored pencil.
If you have been following me on social media and my blog for a while, then you will know how much I LOVE Simon’s Cat videos on YouTube. The videos are like a movie comic strip that are non-verbal, so they are very versatile for speech and language therapy. Check out this blog post for more details about how I adapt these videos across grades and skills.
This past week I used these videos with my 4-6th grade students to work on a number of language skills: using the vocabulary word “predict,” perspective taking skills for the characters emotions, thought bubbles, sequencing the video with grammatically correct sentences, connecting words (first, next, last) as well as descriptive language.
Scishowkids makes a pretty good argument about why we shouldn’t be afraid of spiders. This is a great video to discuss main idea and details from a video. You can work on vocabulary tasks with the words “afraid,” “jump,” and “spin.”
If you work as a school based SLP, getting speech therapy referrals for the R sound is pretty common. The /r/ distortions are pretty noticeable by teachers, parents and staff. Have you ever gotten that referral from a preschooler or kindergarten teacher and think, “I should probably get that teacher a developmental norms chart ASAP.”
A couple of years ago, our SLP Professional Learning Community discussed how to handle speech therapy referrals for /r/. Guess what happened…..there were a lot of varying answers and viewpoints. It stirred up a hot debate (all friendly discussion). And we left the PLC without a clear direction with how to handle /r/ speech therapy referrals.
What I learned after the Professional Learning Community Discussion
The perspectives of the /r/ referral varied from SLP to SLP. Some felt that you should take them younger (6-7 years of age) if they are stimuable. Other SLPs felt that the student wouldn’t meet eligibility for an articulation disorder based on educational code, but the student would receive support via Response To Intervention (RTI) with speech improvement. There were some SLPs that didn’t feel comfortable with providing RTI because of potential legal ramifications for seeing gen ed students without an IEP.
I decided to send out a survey on Speech Therapy Referrals
The discussion with other SLPs in the room was helpful in learning about different perspectives regarding an /r/ referral. However, I didn’t leave the discussion with a clearer understanding of what our district was supporting SLPs to do. Everyone had valid points and reasons for how they handled /r/ referrals, but we lacked a cohesive game plan for /r/.
My biggest question to the SLPs in the group was “when do you consider an /r/ error outside normal development?” I also wanted to know when SLPs took students with /r/ distortions on their IEP caseload or if they treated it through RTI.
Again, answers varied from SLPs. This prompted me to wonder what other SLPs thought across the United States. I figured I could get a bigger perspective by surveying a larger group.
Here is the situation I shared with SLPs
You have a 7 year old in second grade with a distorted /r/ in all positions. The teacher shares that at times it is difficult to understand the student. The parent also has concerns about his articulation. The parent signed a screening form for you to do a quick observation of his speech. You noticed that the /r/ is pretty distorted and he is not stimuable for /r/ when given prompts.
These were the results from the survey on how SLPs would handle /r/ referral:
Speech Therapy Referrals – Considerations about /r/
Many SLP’s commented that they would do an RTI model for this student; however, their district does not allow them to see students without an IEP.
Some SLP’s shared that they would not get an assessment plan signed until after age 8 because their district eligibility guidelines would not allow them to take a student for /r/ at age 7. Interestingly, some SLP’s shared that their district would not deem a single sound error of /r/ to meet eligibility for speech services. (There is an argument that /r/ is not a single sound error among some SLPs).
Many SLP’s also shared that because the teacher and SLP are observing reduced intelligibility, this may warrant a full assessment of articulation.
What I learned from being in the school setting & doing this survey
In certain districts where I have worked, I would not be able to get a signed assessment plan until the student turned 8. I was also told that I could not serve students in an RTI model because this would impact legalities with my job.
When looking at an /r/ referral, I have to determine if the articulation disorder is adversely impacting the student’s academic progress. This is where we ask ourselves if the student’s /r/ distortion is adversely impacting the student’s ability to meet the speaking and listening standards. We would also want to determine if the student’s intelligibility is below 80% intelligible. If it isn’t affecting academics or intelligibility, it is highly likely that the student will not meet eligibility for an IEP under an articulation disorder. That being said, if you feel that the /r/ distortion is adversely impacting those two areas, it is very important to make distinct mention of that in your report findings.
A few SLP’s shared that the classroom teacher must do 6-8 weeks of general education intervention before moving towards an assessment.
Many SLP’s shared that when the student’s /r/ is addressed earlier than 7.5-8 years in a “speech improvement model”, the /r/ improves. Furthermore, many have found when they monitor the student’s growth just by checking in with the gen ed teacher, that most develop the /r/ in third grade without intervention.
We must also consider our professional judgment with dealing with these referrals. We use the developmental norms as a guideline and really need to look at educational impact when looking at a student with articulation errors.
How I handled /r/ referrals in my previous job
Based on some reading that I did on ASHA’s website, federal law may impact an SLP’s ability to take students with /r/ on an IEP. Serving students in an RTI model may also lead use to legal implications. ASHA recommends SLPs not label intervention as RTI, but rather call it a “speech club.” I call my intervention “speech improvement class.”
Here is a link to RTI information on ASHA. This could be a great discussion piece to have with your districts and speech departments. I also found the Speech Sound Disorders page on the ASHA website helpful.
At the time of this survey, my speech department was having a lot of discussions about implementing a “speech improvement program” or seeing students on an IEP for /r/. There was not a final discussion. So, I did see a couple of students in speech improvement class that have noticeable /r/ distortions. The students were in second grade and between 7 or 7 1/2 years of age. Parent permission was obtained and the speech improvement class was for 6-8 weeks.
What are your thoughts about the /r/ referral or single sound error referrals?
How does your SLP department and district handle speech therapy referrals for /r/? What are your thoughts on taking an /r/ student in the school setting? I would love to hear your expertise. Feel free to email me at email@example.com or share in the comments below.
Do you have students that are at the generalization level with their articulation? I have some articulation carryover therapy resources that will help you plan therapy that also go well with mixed groups!
Need some free visuals to support self awareness and functional practice of your student’s articulation sounds? This blog post has FREE printables and ideas for how to organize your articulation therapy.
Are you stuck with where how to get your student to generalize their speech sound? The student has it at the word and sentence level, but when they walk out of your room, they go straight back to their old speech sounds. I am right there currently with several students on my caseload. So, I have been trying to find more articulation carryover activities to help with generalization.
If you need articulation therapy ideas that will help you high repetitions, you can check out my articulation therapy ideas HERE.
Easy Articulation Carryover Activity Ideas Using Youtube
Youtube is your friend! Simon’s cat videos are perfect for practicing your student’s speech sounds while retelling the video, and answering wh-questions about the videos. Check out my blog post for how I use these free videos in therapy HERE.
Find How-To videos on youtube with your student’s target sound. The SLP can have their student watch the video and then explain “how to do” the process. So, if you have a student working on /r/, they can watch a youtube video about how to make popcorn. If you have a youtube channel, you can find videos and make playlists for the videos that you use by sound. I made QR codes and have the kids pick which video they want to watch. These are in my articulation carryover activities sets.
Articulation Carryover Activities At The Multiple Sentence Level
Some of my students are 80-90% accurate with single sentences, but they aren’t ready to be reading or doing conversational tasks just yet. So, I have activities that I use to work on my student’s articulation sounds at the multiple sentence level.
Find words that are related that have your student’s target sound to compare/contrast by similarities and differences.
Another activity is to have your student’s answer would you rather or what would you do questions.
An Idea To Work On Articulation Carryover At The Conversational Level
If you have students ready to work on their sounds at the conversational level, you can set a challenge before the session begins. Make a set number of errors that your student can not go over. Then, during the speech session, you can monitor your student’s production with whatever conversational task you plan. If the student has speech errors over the challenge number, then they didn’t meet the challenge.
I have set up that a speech challenge met can be turned in for a game day, bring a friend to speech, a bag of chips or whatever else the student and myself can come up with to earn.
If you need more conversation ideas for how students can practice their speech outside of the speech room, check out this blog post and how I use these activities.
Apps To Use For Articulation Carryover Activities
Have you heard of the voxer app? It is an app that acts like a walkie talkie. I was introduced to voxer by one of my previous principals that used voxer to communicate with her staff. The charter school that I worked at was very tech savvy, so the kids were all about using tech tools. With parent permission, I was able to use the voxer app to work on self monitoring with articulation generalization. We would ask the principal questions on voxer or tell the principal about the week. Then, I would have my students play back their recording to listen to their speech sounds.
If you own an ipad, the news-o-matic app is a great resource for working on articulation at the reading level. Kid friendly news articles are available every day. There are sometimes videos attached to the app, questions and key vocabulary that is defined. You can read more about this app on my blog post HERE.
Little Stories Pro by Little Bee Speech is an app that has 82 short stories that are loaded with targeted speech sounds. This app can be very helpful for meaningful articulation practice when reading as well as when answering comprehension questions and story retell. I like this app because when I don’t have time to search for books that have my student’s sound in the story, I can easily bring up this app.
Resources For Finding Reading Passages To Work On Articulation
Read Works is a free website that you can find leveled reading passages that are aligned with common core standards.
Newsela is a website that has differentiated, high interest texts that are organized by content area, so you can find all sorts of reading passages in different subject matters.
In my TPT store, I have Articulation Carryover Activity resources that include fiction & non-fiction reading passages for /r/, /s/, and /z/. These texts include visual cues and the occurrence of the sound in the passages have been counted, so documenting the student’s accuracy is a lot quicker.
Reader’s theater is a great way to work on self monitoring and students working on articulation practice with a structured speaking activity. If you are buddy buddy with some of the kinder/1st grade teachers, you may even be able to book a time when your students could go into the classroom and perform the reader’s theater for the class.
Scholastic Books a series that I really like to use for my mixed groups. The True or False series (amazon affiliate link included) have short non-fiction paragraphs that pose a question and students have to decide if it the information is true or false. Then, they turn the page to see if their answer is correct. These are great for reading to practice your articulation sound.
Scholastic Who Would Win Books are another series that align with common core curriculum and can help you target your student’s speech sounds in structured conversation. The SLP can have the students read a paragraph, summarize the facts from the book, or answer comprehension questions.
Using Visuals To Help With Self Monitoring With Articulation Carryover Activities
Visual reminders can help reduce the SLP using verbal cues/prompts. I have some visual speech sound reminders that I put on popsicle sticks, which you can grab the free printables HERE. Whatever the activity, the SLP can utilize these visual reminders during the articulation practice.
Articulation Carryover Weekly Homework Sheets
Trying to find ways to encourage students to practice their speech at home? I created an articulation carryover weekly worksheet that can be used to monitor their speech for the week. You can grab this download for FREE on my TPT store.
Kiwi Speech also has a weekly home practice tracker that is free in her store. I have used with students that I want them to see that practicing just 5 minutes a day can help them make progress. This tracker is really helpful for showing kids how to break down minutes they practice each week.
What resources or strategies do you use to help your students generalize their speech sounds into conversation? I would love to add some more tips to my SLP toolbox.
Need CEU Hours and Want to Learn More About Articulation Carryover
Trying to get those 100+ trials during articulation therapy can be hard! Student motivation and mixed therapy groups can make it tough to get high repetitions. For myself, I need new ideas to keep it fresh and fun for ME! Telling a student to “say it again” in several articulation sessions can feel redundant. So, I have lots of articulation ideas that will get high repetitions to keep things productive for all parties involved.
Here are some fun ideas to get those 100+ repetitions in articulation therapy!
Articulation Ideas That Will Get High Repetitions
This DIY ZAP IT game is perfect for getting high repetitions. My students stay motivated the entire session. Write different numbers on popsicle sticks (make sure you put some high numbers like 10 and 15). Then, write zap a friend, zap 1, zap 2, etc. Stick the popsicle sticks in a bucket and have students pick a stick. If they pick a 15, they get 15 points and they have to say their speech sound 15 times. The person with the most points wins the game! HERE is a rule guide that you can print and reference during therapy.
Keep hands busy during articulation practice using a DIY abacus!
Adapting Games To Get High Repetitions In Articulation Therapy
Find games like Uno to use during articulation therapy. Play the game as the rules intended, but whatever card the student lays down, that is how many times they have to practice their speech sound. If the student gets a draw 4, make them practice 20 productions! Get creative with your “speech rules” for practicing during this game.
You can use a Toss Across Game (amazon affiliate link included) to get high articulation repetitions. Use post it notes and write numbers on the X’s and O’s. When the student throws the bean bag and hits an X or O, they have to say their articulation sound that many times.
Race To 100 game is a great way to get 100 productions and keep the session energy up! Put my Race to 100 game card in a plastic protective sheet or laminate. Grab a die (make your own with a wooden block, so you can add high numbers like 8, 10, 12, 15) and start rolling!
The Articulation Challenge is something I do with my speech students that like a little competition. I use my digital counters, my timer on my phone and my articulation flashcards for this activity. I tell my students that I am going to set the time and we are going to see how many productions we can get in 3 minutes. Then, I have them just start drilling. When the timer beeps, we check our score! Usually my students will see that they got well over 100 productions and will want to try again to see if they can beat their score. It is perfect for my 4th and 5th grade boys that like competition! My SH, CH, DJ, TH flashcards are FREE in my store.
These are my articulation ideas for getting high repetitions in therapy while keeping the FUN going. Next time, I am going to show you ideas for getting more repetitions at the sentence and conversational levels. Hope this was helpful!!
Treating the /r/ phoneme can be tricky, tiresome and just plain annoying for both the clinician and student! I haven’t met an SLP in the elementary, middle school or high school level that doesn’t need more speech therapy materials for r.
The best advice I got from a veteran SLP when I asked how to teach a child to say /r/ was “just grab a pair of gloves, a tongue depressor and hope for the best!”
Dwight Schrute sums up most SLP’s feelings about the /r/ phoneme in his office video clip! He says “R is one of the most menacing of sounds! That’s why they call it murder and not muck duck!” My thoughts exactly Dwight. Here is a post by SLP Natalie Snyders about getting a good /r/. There is also some really good ideas from Playing With Words 365 about teaching the /r/ phoneme.
2. Figuratively speeching has a great articulation placemat set that is great for sending home for additional practice. It provides activities for the whole week on one sheet with letters included to send home!
3. Primary Punch has some wonderful home practice worksheets that are print n’ go!
4. Erik Raj has these super fun Mini homework sheets for articulation. They have great silly questions with the /r/ phoneme that students can discuss at home. Great resource for working on carry over! Plus, it doesn’t waste lots of paper. I will have my students try to discuss the question with a friend, the teacher and a parent.
Speech Therapy Materials For /R/
5. My print n’ go flashcards have been very useful in my speech room. You can either print up, hole punch and hold on a key ring or staple together. I started putting my flashcards in plastic cover protectors and having students cross off the words as they say their /r/ sound. Makes for easy therapy prep and LOTS of practice. I store in a three hole punch folder, so I can send home with the student if I want them to practice over the weekend.
6. Sublime Speech has these handy Articulation Strips for /r/ that are great to work on /r/ at the word and single sentence level. They are easy to store and have visual cues on the strips to help with reminding students to think about their /r/.
7. Miss V’s Speech World has a great 52 Weekly /r/ homework worksheets product that makes planning home practice activities a breeze!! They last for the entire week and have creative fun activities for the students to complete.
8. Dollar Challenge Articulation Activity from Speech Room News is a great activity to get students to get 100 trials per session. She includes /r/ initial, r-blends and vocalic r sheets as well as homework sheets!!
9. Articulation Secret Codes from Kiwi Speech are fun worksheets that keep the students engaged while you are drilling with each student in the group. These are great for home practice activities too!
10. Busy Bee Speech has a great product to help with working on generalizing speech sounds into spontaneous speech. Her Articulation Carry-Over Activities are perfect for therapy sessions or sending home to work on structured conversation.
What resources do you use and love for treating the /r/ phoneme? I would love to add some more resources to my therapy materials stash. Did I mention that I have 10 kids working on /r/ this year?