3 Tips For Using Themes Across Your Caseload

3 Tips For Using Themes Across Your Caseload

Remember when we were all learning how to use Facebook for the first time (then learning it again when it changed! Oh the confusion!). If you are a new themester SLP, it’s possible you’re feeling just as overwhelmed learning a new style of therapy with your caseload. What’s great about themed therapy is you can easily take a single theme and use it across a lot of different ages and goals. This will help you streamline your planning and take the overwhelming out of planning. 

 

If you’re feeling like choosing a theme is like a buffet, there are so many choices that it makes it hard to pick just one, then this blog post will definitely help you narrow down choices.

What to Do When You are Lacking Inspiration for Your Next Theme

If you are struggling with what theme to do next, check out this blog post where I share 30 of my TOP fave themes for therapy. Plus, you can grab a FREE themed therapy idea guide for easy planning. It comes with an editable themed therapy planner to help you keep notes on what you did in therapy. Check it out HERE

Three Tips For Using Themes Across Your Caseload

 If you are struggling with themed therapy planning across your elementary caseload, check out this blog post with 3 tips on how to streamline your themed therapy planning.

The first thing you will want to think about is picking a theme that is going to be interesting for your younger and your older students. When you pick a theme that’s interesting for multiple age groups, you will cut down on a ton of your planning time. When you use this strategy, you only have to pick one theme you want to do with your upper and lower elementary students.

For example, a camping theme and a plant life cycle theme will be relevant and interesting for your younger and older students. Check out how to adapt these themes here and here.

Tip #2 Use One Themed Therapy Activity to Target Many Goals

It can be easy to tell yourself that you need a different activity to specifically target each of your student’s goals. This is the #1 to increase your planning time. The beauty of themed therapy activities is you can pick one themed activity that is open-ended enough to target a ton of goals.

To do this, you prep one activity that can be adapted for the different skills you want to target depending on the students you are working with. With less individual activity prep, you can plan engaging lessons efficiently. Check out this penguin sensory bin or this windsock craft for example of how you prep one material or activity for a wide range of goals.

 If you are struggling with themed therapy planning across your elementary caseload, check out this blog post with 3 tips on how to streamline your themed therapy planning.

#3 Tip: Re-Use Materials Week After Week

If you are struggling with themed therapy planning across your elementary caseload, check out this blog post with 3 tips on how to streamline your themed therapy planning.

Reuse, reuse, reuse! Don’t be afraid to use the same materials week after week. Switching up the materials slightly will make them feel novel to your student and will be very easy prep work for you. For example, when using themed vocabulary or verb cards such as the ones in the seasonal grammar and vocabulary sets, you can use magnetic wands to make it different.

In one session, you put different amounts of magnetic chips under the cards and the student who gets the most chips at the end wins. In the following session, add themed game cards (hint: check out the blog post for the free printables) to the task cards. Lay them out on the table and have students select. If they get a popsicle, for example, they get to keep it. But, if there is a sun behind their card, they lose a popsicle. Whoever has the most at the end wins.

How do you adapt materials so that you can reuse them? Share your best therapy tips in the comments.

Ready to Start Experiencing the Benefits of Themed Therapy?

If you are spending a painful amount of time planning for your caseload at school, after school, and at home, then I have great news for you! A Themed Therapy Planning How-To Course for the Busy SLP is now available until March 17th. You can earn clinical maintenance hours for your ASHA and state license while also becoming a rockstar at efficiently planning themed therapy for your Prek-5th grade caseload. Want to learn more about joining? Check out all the details HERE

 

4 Tips To Pick A Theme For Your Caseload

4 Tips To Pick A Theme For Your Caseload

When I first began as an SLP, I started with a large caseload that fluctuated between 72-83 students. There was no time in my day to plan for those individual students. So, my brain immediately went to using theme-based lessons that I could adapt for all of my grade levels. Using theme-based lessons that are easily adapted helped me reduce my planning time (and brain power) by hours! I am heading into my 15th year as an SLP, and using themes continues to be a super helpful strategy! I want to share with you 4 tips for picking a great theme for your caseload!

Tip #1 : Pick A Theme That Is Motivating

Check out these 4 tips to help you pick a great theme for your caseload that can be adapted across all of your grade levels. Save hours of planning time by using themed therapy materials to cover your wide range of goals!

The #1 tip I have for selecting a theme is to make sure it’s something that is high interest and highly motivating for your students. This is a much easier task for my younger students than it is for my older elementary or middle school students. I can usually capture my younger students’ interest for any theme by simply incorporating dinosaurs, legos, or something shiny! My older students are not so easily entertained (as I’m sure many of you understand). Another SLP shared with me a little while ago that she likes to poll her older students about what they are interested in at the beginning of her school year. Her students’ answers help drive her lesson planning and theme selection. This is something that can easily be incorporated into your therapy plans for your first week back.

Why is this my #1 tip? The more we can build our students’ interest in the lessons and themes we are using, the more buy-in we’ll see, which we know leads to more progress

Tip #2: Keep Your Students’ Environment In Mind

When picking a theme, think about what is going to be relevant to your student. What is something your students can relate to or experience in their day-to-day lives? I like to pick themes about the seasons, the environment around my student, on-going classroom topics, etc.

Selecting themes that are personally relevant to my students helps build that connection between therapy and real life (can’t forget about that generalization!). A great theme for this summer would be the Summer Olympics, especially for those of you doing ESY.

Check out these 4 tips to help you pick a great theme for your caseload that can be adapted across all of your grade levels. Save hours of planning time by using themed therapy materials to cover your wide range of goals!

Tip #3: Pick A Theme That Inspires You Too

Check out these 4 tips to help you pick a great theme for your caseload that can be adapted across all of your grade levels. Save hours of planning time by using themed therapy materials to cover your wide range of goals!

The themes you pick should also be inspiring and exciting for you too! Of course, my students’ interests will always trump mine (#therapistlife). However, if you can find themes that are as interesting and motivating to you as they are to your students, then you’re going to kill that session! Your excitement will shine through and therapy will be really fun for you and your student.

For example, I love selecting camping themes because I love going camping and hiking and it’s also a theme that my students love. This makes our camping themed therapy sessions really, genuinely, fun!

Tip #4: Pick A Theme You Can Adapt Across Grades

Picking a theme that you can adapt across multiple grade levels is they key to save yourself planning time. For example, an apple theme is great for younger elementary students, older elementary students, and middle schoolers. This theme can also be adapted for my older student with higher needs or benefit from a very supported classroom. I found that many of my students with this profile had language skills similar to some of my elementary student. I was able to take the same concepts and adapt them with age-appropriate photos and materials that are respectful to those students. Here are some sample activity ideas using an apples theme across different age groups:

Check out these 4 tips to help you pick a great theme for your caseload that can be adapted across all of your grade levels. Save hours of planning time by using themed therapy materials to cover your wide range of goals!
Check out these 4 tips to help you pick a great theme for your caseload that can be adapted across all of your grade levels. Save hours of planning time by using themed therapy materials to cover your wide range of goals!

In A Theme Rut?

If you’re having a hard time picking the right themes for your students, check out my free Themed Therapy Planning Guide. It has over 100 seasonal and non-seasonal therapy theme ideas for you to choose from! This planning guide also comes with an editable lesson plan template you can use to help plan your themed therapy sessions. If you’re still having a tough time finding the right theme for your students, I would also recommend collaborating with other teachers. See what themes are being incorporated in your students’ classrooms that can also be incorporated and worked on in speech therapy! 

Check out these 4 tips to help you pick a great theme for your caseload that can be adapted across all of your grade levels. Save hours of planning time by using themed therapy materials to cover your wide range of goals!

Join The Themed Therapy SLP Membership!

If you’re loving themed therapy planning that can be adapted across grade level to save you hours of planning time, check out the Themed Therapy SLP Membership. With this membership you will receive new themed materials to use with your students every month! To kick-off this challenge, I will be hosting a 5-day theme organizational challenge on Facebook. Join now for a sneak peak into the membership, great organizational tips from other themester SLP’s, and fun giveaways! Click on the photos below to learn more.

This blog post is based on my recent Facebook live called, “What Makes a Great Theme for Your Caseload“. Make sure to check it out! 

How to Organize Your Themed Therapy Materials

How to Organize Your Themed Therapy Materials

Raise your hand if you start the year off strong with organization, and by the end of September you find yourself scouring through laundry piles of resources and worksheets. I know I can’t be the only one out there! I decided to get serious about organizing my themed therapy materials using a system that would last the whole school year. Here are some ways you can organize themed therapy materials so you don’t have to constantly find your self thinking “I swear I put that articulation packet in this folder…..”

Organize Themed Therapy Materials Using a Crate

One thing I invested in is these file storage crates. They are so easy to find and such a game changer.  You can find these file storage crates at Staples, Target, Walmart, or Amazon. As you can see in the picture, I label each file folder with my themes. When I’m looking for a particular themed activity, I’ll know exactly where to look in the crate which saves me a ton of time. This is especially helpful for organizing themed therapy materials for my whole classroom or push-in activities. When I first started organizing with crates, I quickly realized the file folders were essential! Without them, my materials turned into another pile, but this time they were in a crate instead of my desk!

Use Zip Pouches to Organize Themed Therapy Materials

This blog post will tell you all the best tips for organizing your themed therapy materials, so you can quickly find the activities you need!

Along with the crates, I also love to use these zip or pocket pouches. Like the crates, they are super easy to find and a great organizational investment. These zip pouches are perfect for those themed activities that require a lot of components. For example, crafts, core word squares, books, and sentence strips. It’s super easy to keep all of the themed components in one place with these pouches. They are also very quick to grab and easy to carry from class to class.

A quick tip: if you are interested in buying these pouches, I would recommend going for more durable, plastic ones. These help keep your materials from bending or creasing, and they don’t “flop” as much for easier storage.

Organize Your Story Themed Materials in a Scrapbook Box

This blog post will tell you all the best tips for organizing your themed therapy materials, so you can quickly find the activities you need!

Scrapbook boxes are a great tool to organize themed materials and lesson plans. These boxes are wide and deep enough to store your theme related books and the companion activities. I love these scrapbook boxes because I can use them to store the books I want, the activities, any pouches I have for my loose cards and materials, craft examples I want to use, and all of my visual supports. They are so easy to label, grab, use, and reorganize at the end of my day. I’ve cut down so much time on my planning and organizing once I started using these scrapbook boxes.

Check out my video on Facebook or Instagram to see what my scrapbook box and pouch organizational systems look like using an ocean theme!

Use Bags and Bins to Keep Sensory Bins Neat

One thing I love to incorporate into my therapy are themed sensory bins. However, these sensory bins and the loose materials I put in them can get super messy and time consuming to organize. Using gallon-sized baggies and a storage bin has helped keep my sensory bin materials neat. First, I store the loose cards or small toys I’ll be using in my sensory bin in a gallon-sized zip lock baggie. Then, I store the “sensory” materials in their own zip lock baggies as well. I place all of these baggies in a storage bin. Then, when it’s time to assemble my sensory bin, I can simply pick the therapy targets/cards/toys I need, the sensory material I want to use, and place them all in my sensory bin.

More Ways to Get Organized!

This blog post will tell you all the best tips for organizing your themed therapy materials, so you can quickly find the activities you need!

Looking for more ways to get your office or your materials organized? Take a look at my 7 Tips for Organization.

If you’re an SLP that has an articulation/phonology heavy caseload, then you’ll want to take a peak at my previous blog post where I talk about setting up articulation folders to help with organization.

I love seeing how other SLP’s get organized and what works best for them. Let me know in the comments your favorite way to stay organized throughout your school year!

Setting Up Articulation Speech Folders For Students

Setting Up Articulation Speech Folders For Students

Recently, I polled the SLPs that follow me on Instagram to see how many of us make individual student folders for our caseloads. It was a pretty even 50/50 split of speech pathologists that do make individual folders and those that don’t.

I personally do not make individual speech folders for each child on my caseload. I use a giant therapy binder that has tabs for each child on my caseload. If I cover two schools, then I store a therapy binder at each school. 

Setting Up Articulation Speech Folders

For each student, I store their therapy logs, a communication log, their IEP-at-a-glance, and specialized data sheets as needed. Typically, I just flip back and forth between students to keep everything documented. 

However, I always have certain students that I service in a quick artic model, or I want to have some specialized visuals organized for my artic students to use when running mixed groups. In these circumstances, I will make an articulation speech folder for the individual student or the particular sound/phonological process. Today, I am going to share how you can set up your own articulation speech folders to help you streamline your therapy planning process.

Why I Make Articulation Speech Folders

Let’s face it. We have limited time for planning therapy. And sometimes we are doing our quick artic in the hallways or targeting articulation goals with mixed groups. It is hard for me to keep visuals, homework sheets, flash cards, etc. organized for my articulation students. Having all of the tools I may need in one speech folder helps me to be prepared for therapy. Planning therapy is less stressful because I can grab the folder knowing that everything I need is ready to use.

Or, if I have 3-4 students working on a certain phonological process, I can make one folder for that process and have all the speech materials I need to remediate that process. The only other thing I may need to grab is a toy, a game, or a manipulative to use with all the tools in the speech folder. 

 

Materials to Make Articulation Speech Folders

To make your speech folder, you do need some organizational materials to make it work. I am going to show you what I do, but feel free to adapt for your caseload. Amazon affiliate links are included for your convenience.

What other office supplies have you found helpful to include in your student’s speech folders? Share in the comments!

What to Include in Your Articulation Speech Folder

When setting up your articulation speech folder, you want to have an idea of where the child is performing with learning his/her sound. If the child is at the syllable level, then you can include materials and visuals for that level, as well as add in materials for the word and phrase level.

Grab these FREE Articulation Syllable Practice Sheets in my TPT store. 

This allows you to have extra materials ready in the event that the student progresses quicker than you expected. You will be ready to adapt the therapy session easily without racking your brain on what to do next.

Here are some helpful things to include in your speech folder:

-Therapy logs (I use the logs from The Speech Bubble SLP or SLP Toolkit)

-Specialized Articulation or Phonology Data Sheets to track progress. Here is my FREE Articulation Data Sheet template. If you need more specialized sheets, you can grab them HERE

– Visual Supports to help with articulation production or to increase self-awareness. You can add speech sound cue cards from Bjorem Speech in the envelope file pouch. 

-Data graphs or self-awareness visuals can be helpful to incorporate into a session. Grab some FREE articulation carryover visuals by clicking the button below.

– Word lists or materials to use for quick drill practice, like these free flash card lists for older developing sounds or my Articulation Flipbooks. Sometimes I will print up pages from my Any Craft Companion Pack and store in the speech folder. 

Homework forms that help track if the student is practicing at home. I use these ones from Kiwi Speech (FREE printable). For your students that you are creating home programs, you can have homework sheets in this folder ahead of time, so you can easily plan and track homework assignments. This is a free homework sheet once students get to the carryover level in my STORE

These FREE Articulation Homework Word List Strips by Simply Speech can be in your students folder. You can customize the word lists based on your students performance during the session and send home.

Other Helpful Forms to Include in Your Speech Folders

If you like to have an individual folder for each student, here are some forms that will help you keep things organized for each student:

FREE SLP Attendance Form by Natalie Synders

Communication Log (FREE) in Sublime Speech’s Starter Kit to document interactions with the child’s parent or teacher

Please share any other forms, visuals, or tools you would add to your articulation speech folders in the comments! You can also tag me on instagram @thedabblingspeechie with your articulation speech folder setup.

Blog Posts To Help You Plan Articulation Therapy

As busy SLPs, it is easy to struggle with ideas on how to increase repetitions or keep your students motivated with articulation practice. Here are some blog posts with ideas to make your articulation therapy productive and fun:

10 Speech Therapy Websites That Will Help Busy SLPs

10 Speech Therapy Websites That Will Help Busy SLPs

Having the right speech therapy resources for the busy SLP is important. When we have the tools we need, SLPs can serve students better and more efficiently. I know my lesson planning is a lot easier because of the speech therapy resources I have found over the years. Slowly, I have been able to build my stash of helpful therapy tools. The advancements with technology have really opened the doors for helping SLPs have access to speech therapy resources they need. Back when I was first starting out in the field in 2007, there was no Pinterest. And blogs, YouTube, and Teachers Pay Teachers were just starting out, so I had no idea about these resources. 

Using Online Resources Can Help You Streamline Caseload Management

Having access to so many websites has been such a blessing for me as an SLP. The job will always be hard, but I have found some websites that I use over and over again to help me be successful as an SLP. Today, I want to share 10 websites that help busy SLPs be more effective with their jobs.

FREE Speech Therapy Websites That Help SLPS

  1. YouTube is one of my most utilized speech therapy resources. I love that it is free, and new content is always being added. YouTube allows me to plan no prep/low prep therapy and to cover a lot of different goals. Here are some of my favoriteYouTube channels.
    • Simon’s Cat Videos – Check out this blog post to see how you can use this channel in therapy. 
    • SciShowKids – Need a YouTube channel that has LOTS of non-fiction videos that are about five minutes in length or less? There are so many great non-fiction videos to access. I have used her BEE videos in this blog post HERE
    • GoNoodle – For your wiggly students, movement brain break videos are awesome! I utilize these videos when teaching my push-in lessons for my SDC K-2 classes. 
    • Storyline Online – This is a channel that has celebrities read popular children’s books out loud. When you don’t have time to hit the library or want to use a certain book, head to YouTube. There are lots of read-aloud books on there. 

More FREE Speech Therapy Websites

Other videos that I love to use are wordless short videos, commercials, and TV/movie video clips. What YouTube channels do you love using with students?

2.  ReadWorks is a free website providing fiction and non-fiction reading passages by grade level. It will read a passage to a student and also includes pre-picked vocabulary that you can target in the passage. You can also get comprehension questions with answer choices for each passage. 

3. EdPuzzle is a free website that allows educators to add questions to videos. You can create multiple choice questions or open-ended questions that will pause the video in the moment when you want to ask a question. I use this for wh- questions, inferencing, and vocabulary. 

4. VocabGrabber – Research continues to show that teaching students Tier II vocabulary words will help them grow their vocabulary skills. So, I love using this free website to get the Tier II vocabulary from textbook passages, fictional books,  and non-fiction passages. 

Speech Therapy Resources with Paid Subscription Websites

5. Everyday Speech – If you have students with social pragmatic disorders who are in upper elementary school and middle school, then you will LOVE Everyday Speech’s Video Library. They have over 100 videos with worksheets included for different social skill concepts you are teaching your students. Video Modeling is an evidence-based practice for children with Autism, and these video lessons are formatted that way. My social skills push-in lesson planning was a breeze using this subscription. I never felt out of ideas and always had a good video to show. You can read more about this speech therapy resource HERE

6. The Informed SLP – SLPs are super busy. After a long day of conducting therapy and paperwork, we just don’t have the brain space or energy to stay up-to-date with the latest research articles on a monthly basis. I want the research info, but I need it in the “Cliff Notes” version so I can efficiently figure out how to apply the research to my students. Then, The Informed SLP came along, and I became a customer. Every month, the team at The Informed SLP shares reviews of the most relevant research articles. You can read the articles on your lunch break or listen in the car. I love that I don’t feel overwhelmed after I read an article and can digest the contents in friendly spans of time.

Use A Subscription That Will Help You Make Informed Clinical Decisions

The Informed SLP is now offering CEU courses that you can listen to in the car, on a walk, when you are cooking dinner or working out at the gym! You can also listen to the article reviews in the same fashion. This membership has helped build my clinical confidence and a big reason I am an affiliate for this subscription. Click the picture above and use the code: FELICE to get 20% off your yearly subscription (This 20% discount is only available for subscriptions).

Speech Therapy Websites with FREE and PAID Resources

8.  Teachers Pay Teachers – When I found this speech therapy resource, I was over the moon. It had FREE lessons and affordable therapy tools that I could literally buy and use within minutes of purchasing. When my district agreed to pay for my Super Duper orders, it took like 2-3 months to actually get the materials. Even if you don’t buy anything on the site, there are TONS of valuable FREE resources. Check out the ones in my store HERE

9. Speech Therapy Resource Libraries on Blogs – Did you know that a lot of SLP bloggers have FREE resource libraries for their newsletter communities? You join their weekly or monthly newsletter and get access to speech therapy goodies that you can’t find anywhere else. If you need a good speech report template, visual supports, articulation carryover activities, and more, then join mine HERE. Some of my favorite free libraries are from Speechy Musings and The Speech Bubble SLP

10. Home Speech Home  has some of the most thorough word lists on the web that are FREE. When I need to come up with some words for language or articulation, I usually go there! They also have paid apps and resources on their site. 

Bonus Speech Therapy Websites for Caseload Management

I know this post has 10 speech therapy websites for SLPs, but it is hard to just recommend ten websites when there are a lot of helpful tools you can access on the internet. If you are looking for some caseload management tools, I recommend trying SLPToolKit. I did a review a few years ago HERE, but since that time, the company has made a ton of updates to help streamline caseload management.

SLPs that want to digitally have access to goals (you can save your goals or they have tools to help you create), have present level assessments and progress monitoring tools digitally, then this website subscription is for you!

Those of you that struggle with managing all the goals your students are working on may benefit from the Swivel Scheduler. It allows you to set-up your speech schedule with your students goals. Then, you can print your schedule each week and it will automatically “swivel” your students goals, so you know exactly what you need to plan and target in a session!

Need More Caseload Management Tips?

One way that I utilize speech therapy websites is by streamlining systems. The first week back at work is when I get my caseload organized. You can see my tips HERE. I also used SLPtoolkit and TPT to help me make processes for my progress monitoring. I wrote a post with all my helpful tips HERE. I am not sure if Google Drive is considered a website, but this has been such a game changer for saving me time and re-inventing the wheel. Check out how Google Forms can help streamline your referral process HERE. This online tool has also helped me stay organized with report writing. You can grab my FREE report template HERE. I store all my templates in Google Drive now!

What Websites Have Helped You SLP?

I would love to know what speech therapy resources have been helpful for you. Please share any websites that you use on a regular basis in the comments or email me at feliceclark@thedabblingspeechie.com.

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