30 FUN Themes For Speech Therapy Planning Prek-5th Grade

30 FUN Themes For Speech Therapy Planning Prek-5th Grade

As school-based SLP’s, we’re going to be working with so many different grade levels throughout the day. Especially if you’re like me and you love to push-in to multiple classrooms throughout your day or week. The more grade levels you see, the more time you’re going to be putting into planning. It’s simply the nature of school SLP-ing. However, taking a single theme and modifying it across grade levels has been a life saver when it comes to my planning time. Here are some ways you can take a single theme and use it for multiple grade levels!

Adapting Your Themed Speech Therapy

First things first, you will need to select your theme. Once you’ve selected your theme, planning for each of your grade levels will be easy. I like to start off with a story that goes along with the theme I’ve chosen. Beginning with a story helps students build background knowledge and get exposure to the thematic vocabulary. Epic! or ReadWorks are great for finding grade specific stories and books. If I have a story in mind, but can’t find the books, YouTube read-alouds are always a great go-to.

YouTube videos that go along with your theme are also fun and engaging for your student. Starting off with a song using my theme with my younger elementary students is always a fun way to start our session. For older elementary students, I try to show a video with more narration and vocabulary.

Hands-On Activities for Themed Speech Therapy

This blog post has 30 ideas for themed speech therapy that you can use to cover your speech and language goals. Need themed speech therapy inspiration? Head to the blog post and download the FREE themed therapy planning guide.

Any theme you’ve picked can be incorporated into a variety of hands-on activities that can be adapted for the grade levels you work with. For my PK-1st grade students, I use a coloring/drawing worksheet, a simple craft or a themed sensory bin. For my 2nd-3rd grade students, I start incorporating a sequencing/story-retell activity or a vocabulary and comprehension activity based on the story or video I used. With the 4th-5th grade students, I select “higher level” activities. This may be creating word webs with our thematic vocabulary or making a list of the figurative language we find in the story we read together. 

Themed Speech Therapy in Action

Here is a quick look at what my therapy plans will include using a “Back-to-School” theme with my students:

Story Selections:

  • PK – 1st Grade: Lola Goes to School
  • 2nd – 3rd Grade: If You Take a Mouse to School
  • 4th – 5th Grade: The Day You Begin

Movement Based Activity:

Hands-On Activity:

  • PK – 1st Grade: School bus craft with a sentence strip targeting verb use or incorporating core words
  • 2nd – 3rd Grade: Target the story grammar elements in the story selected; have students draw the events of the story and retell the story
  • 4th – 5th Grade: Create semantic webs using words and pictures with tier 2 vocabulary words in the story; encourage students to write sentences using the target words

Join the Themed Therapy SLP Membership Today! 

Ready to transform your evidence-based service delivery, reduce your planning time, get organized, and spend more time thinking about supporting student success

The Themed SLP Membership is going to be exactly what you need! Get access to themed materials every month for all of the grade levels and goals on your caseload. Along with these materials, you will be supported by an SLP community committed to delivering theme-based activities!  🤯  🤯  You won’t want to miss out! 

Click here for access to the Themed SLP Membership

Themes to Use for Speech Therapy Activities

This blog post has 30 ideas for themed speech therapy that you can use to cover your speech and language goals. Need themed speech therapy inspiration? Head to the blog post and download the FREE themed therapy planning guide.


Not sure what theme to use? Here is a list of my favorite themes for speech therapy activities:

  1. Back to school
  2. Seasons – spring, summer, fall, winter
  3. Community helpers
  4. Zoo
  5. Beach (use a beach ball to work on a lot of goals)
  6. Bugs/Insects – for a ladybug sensory bin click here)
  7. Playground
  8. Frogs
  9. Holidays
  10. Kites
  11. Sports
  12. Pirates
  13. Apples (co-teaching lesson plan example)
  14. Cooking and food
  15. Squirrels (check out these fun squirrel ideas)
  16. Ocean
  17. Transportation (great sorting activities to do with this theme)
  18. Construction
  19. Around the house
  20. Farm (lots of ideas in this post) and digital therapy ideas HERE.
  21. Flowers and Garden (lessons for a plant life cycle)
  22. Camping – the BEST summer theme ideas HERE!
  23. Weather
  24. Dinosaurs – check out some digital dinosaur activities
  25. Pets – get ideas for Prek-5th grade
  26. Pizza (there are so many ways to use a pretend play pizza set)
  27. Ice Cream
  28. Super Heroes
  29. Presidents
  30. Monsters (click here for some teletherapy monster activities)

Free Themed Therapy Speech Therapy Lesson Planning Challenge

Themed Therapy planning challenge for speech pathologists

Join the free 5-day Facebook Themed Therapy Planning Challenge happening July 15-19. We will have daily giveaways, a grand prize for an SLP that completes all the challenges, free goodies for all attendees, Facebook LIVES and a free webinar for themed therapy planning. Sign up today!

More Year-Round Speech Therapy Themes

If you’re looking for more ideas or themed speech therapy activities, make sure to check out some of my previous blog posts:

What are your favorite themed activities to use in speech therapy? Let me know in the comments below!

FREE Mystery Word Speech Therapy Language Game

FREE Mystery Word Speech Therapy Language Game

This week, in speech therapy we played a REALLY fun word game that targeted LOTS of describing skills.  I even found a way to adapt it for some of my articulation students.  Word games for kids are the best way to get engagement with vocabulary building.  When you say “game,” the kids feel like they are having fun and not realizing how much thinking they are doing!  Today, I am going to share this free mystery word speech therapy language game that will help you cover articulation and language goals 

Word Games For Kids- Mystery Word


Use this free mystery word game to cover your speech therapy language groups!

I used picture cards from my HedBanz Game (amazon affiliate link) to help my younger students think of a noun for the mystery word.  There are also these really cool Learning Resources Basic Vocabulary Photo Cards (amazon affiliate link included for your convenience) that would be awesome to use as well!  For my older students, we just brainstormed without pictures.

I made a detective game board to keep track of each player’s points.  You can assign one of the students to be the “points keeper”. These Reusable Dry Erase Pockets are amazing because I only have to print one game sheet to use over and over.

How to play the Free Mystery Word Game

To play this word game, the clinician and/or one of the students in the groups is in charge of choosing a mystery word. Pick a word and write it down where the students cannot see it.

Then, give clue #1 to the group.  So if we picked “donut”. Clue #1 would be “dessert group”.  Each student can take a guess of the mystery word item.  Praise the students who make a “smart guess” for guessing a word that is in the correct category.  Quiz the students if a guess such as “pizza” would be a smart guess and why it would or would not be a smart guess. Give clue #2 such as “You eat it.  You can deep fry it.  You can put frosting on it.”  Allow for students to make a guess.  If a student’s smart guess is correct, then they would earn 4 points.  Continue giving clues until someone in the group guesses correctly.

The person with the most points at the end of the session wins!  Have the student describe the noun in complete sentences after the mystery word has been revealed! 

I adapted this game for my students working on /s/ by having them say the carrier phrase “I guess the item is……….” to work on final /s/.  With my /r/ students, I only picked words that contained /r/! How could you adapt this game to make it funcitonal for your mixed groups? Share in the comments.

speech therapy language games for mixed groups

Use this Speech Therapy Language Game in Teletherapy

Use this free speech therapy language game to cover vocabulary and describing goals!

You can also use this game digitally in your teletherapy sessions using the Google Slides™ presentation included in the free download (click the pink button above to grab.)

You can use the Mystery Word Game as your weekly warmup lesson. Pick a word of the week and students can what the word is based on the clues. Or, you can create many mystery words and have it last as a digital game for weeks!

The Google Slides have linked buttons, so it is easier to navigate the Clue slides during the game. If you are wanting techy tips on how to use Google Slides, check out this YouTube tutorial with all the tips!

Watch the YouTube video below to see how to add images to the Google Slide presentation.

Need More Mixed Group Games?

Using games with your mixed groups can be hard because you are wasting time in your sessions with all the turn taking. So, I rounded up some of my favorite games that get in lots of good practice and don’t take up lots of time in between turns. For more of a language game that also incorporates a lot of movement, try doing I Spy around your speech room or in the home using vocabulary items. 

A fun SLP game that is free and great for mixed articulation and language groups.

Share the Speech Therapy Game in Action

I would love to see your games in action! Make sure to tag me on Instagram @thedabblingspeechie

This game should increase that engagement in your sessions and you don’t have to feel guilty that you are playing a game because it is working on their goals!

Looking for more Google Slide Game Templates? My digital speech and language Google Slide templates include as a Memory, Tic Tac Toe, and 4-in-a-row templates so that you can customize for your caseload. Check it out in my TPT store (there are also templates included to help you plan therapy, organize your materials digitally, and make digital speech and language folders for your students. 

FREE ‘I Spy’ Language Game for Parents

FREE ‘I Spy’ Language Game for Parents

With school closures happening around the nation it is extremely stressful for parents to educate their children at home. One way you can help your children work on language at home is by playing games. This ‘I Spy’ language game is engaging because it allows your child to move around and there are a lot of ways you can work on your child’s speech and language goals.

For speech therapists trying to figure out lesson plans for an entire caseload, this activity can help you give actionable therapy ideas because the free parent lesson plan includes ways to use this one activity to target a wide-variety of goals.

You can coach your parents each week with how to adapt this game to build vocabulary.

How to Play the ‘I Spy’ Language Game

'I Spy' language game to use to build vocabulary while homeschooling.

Directions for activity: Print the ‘I Spy’ check-off sheet and give it to your child. Have them go around the house looking for different items that are in the category groups or noun-functions. Once your child finds an item, they can check it off. If the things are small, your child can put them in a box or container as they see the item. Your child is finished with the ‘I Spy’ game when they have spotted everything on the list. If you have multiple children at home, you can break them up into teams to see who can finish the list first. They can look for these items in their toys, rooms of the house, or in their yards.

How the ‘I Spy’ Language Game Will Build Vocabulary

The research continues to show that children build stronger vocabularies when they build a depth of knowledge with a word. This means when they attach several associations with the word, they will have a stronger understanding of what that word means. So, when we work on attaching category groups to words, it helps children understanding how words go together. This is a handy skill for word finding, explaining similiarities and differences and organizing language. Check out this blog post about categories HERE.

At home, you can play this ‘I Spy’ language game to work on categories and noun-functions while also working on articulation, speech fluency, social skills, grammar, and vocabulary. It will help you feel confident that you are engaging your child in a low-tech educational game that is helping them grow.

There are also strong links to building vocabulary and reading comprehension. So, even though your child isn’t practicing reading they are building foundational skills that will help them with understanding what they are reading.

'I Spy' language game to build vocabulary at home and work on other speech and language goals. This speech activity can be used to help coach parents during distance learning.

Coaching Parents on How to Use This Game

'I Spy' language game to help parents work on speech and language goals from home during distance learning.

For SLPs that are trying to provide lesson plans for their caseload, this free download will help you plan easily.

You can send this home with parents and include the parent lesson plan. It shows all the different skills they can target, so you can guide your families based on your students goals.

This activity can be played many times, so encourage your families to not just play once! Coach them with how to adapt this game to continue to work on their child’s goal. Or, show your families easy ways to extend the activity. For example, after the child plays the ‘I Spy’ Language game, give the parents tips for teaching how to compare/contrast two items in a category group.

Make sure to download this free lesson plan by clicking the pink button below.

Speech and Language Skills to Target with ‘I Spy’ Language at Home

Articulation – have your child find items that have their sound. Then, have them practice the word 10x with their correct sound production. Make a silly story with the items using their best sounds!

Vocabulary – compare and contrast two items in that category group by how they are similar and different.

Grammar – create sentences by adding in an adjective about the item or talking about “where” the item belongs such as “A pillow belongs on top of my bed.”

Social Skills – work on having your child initiate questions and comments. Model social language during this activity. Give pause time to see if your child will nonverbally or verbally initiate a message.

Speech Fluency- have your child practice their strategies when saying the things they found or when using the item in a sentence.

Oral Narration – Have your child create a story about one of the items they found. Or, make up a story with all the items!

Your kids will be having FUN while they are learning. As much as we want our kids to be diligently working on worksheets and math problems, your kids need activities that will inspire them. Let me know how it goes by tagging me on Instagram: @thedabblingspeechie

‘I Spy’ Speech Therapy Home Packets for you K-2 caseload

'I Spy' Speech Therapy home packets to support students with distance learning. Use this 'I Spy' around the home to build speech and language skills.
'I Spy' language game for parents to use with distance learning in speech therapy. Coach parents each week with a new type of game.
'I Spy' around the home speech therapy game for parents to use during distance learning.

If you love the idea of sending home movement types of speech and language resources during school closures, then this extended ‘I Spy’ Speech Therapy Home Packets will serve your students well. This full version has additional types of games such as ‘I Spy’ colors, shapes, adjectives, outdoors, rooms of the house, categories, and noun-functions. There are visual supports for your students with Autism or significant language impairments, so they can participate with more success using this game.

'I Spy' speech therapy game to send home to students. Each game set has parent handouts to guide the parents through the activity as well as ideas for ways to expand the game to work on speech goals.

Click the image above if you need a resource that is easy to prep for a bulk of your caseload, engaging for kids, and makes coaching parents a breeze during this stressful time. You don’t need to add more work to your plate to create customized lessons when you have this resource in your speech therapy stash!

How to Teach Categories To Build Vocabulary

How to Teach Categories To Build Vocabulary

Have you had a student on your caseload with category goals? Do you feel limited with the resources you have for teaching categories? Do you know where to start with how to teach categories? Incorporating category activities in your language therapy will build your students’ depth of knowledge with vocabulary. Today, I will share why teaching categories are essential for building vocabulary and give you a list of speech therapy category activities for your caseload.

Why are teaching categories important?


Teaching categories in speech therapy is essential for vocabulary development. When we teach vocabulary words in “groups,” SLPs can create a schema for the students to understand those words. Grouping items by similar features provide a familiar setting for students to organize and understand related nouns.

Students who put words in “groups” learn to associate other words for that specific group. Someone with typically developing language may associate waves, sand, seagulls, beach towels, and sand castles with the group “beach.”

When students know the category group nouns belong in, they have one more way to describe that noun. For example, when teaching depth of knowledge for the word apple, you would explain, “An apple is a fruit.”

How to Teach Categories – Category Hierarchy Example

It is crucial to get a baseline of where your student is performing with their understanding of word relationships. If students can’t name categories independently, you can gather other information by assessing sorting skills and matching identical objects and pictures.

  • Match identical objects and pictures
  • Sort a group of objects or pictures into two similar sets
  • Sort a group of things by one feature
  • Choose an item to match a given category description or name
  • Sort into 2 and 3 categories
  • Name categories
  • What doesn’t belong and why
  • What goes together and why
  • Name multiple items of a given category
  • Express similarities and differences

Further down in the blog post, I share resources you can use that would go with some of these category hierarchy examples so you have materials to implement those skills!

Considerations When Deciding Where To Start With Teaching Categories

Some of our students may struggle with understanding category groups because they have yet to experience the vocabulary in real life. If your student has yet to go to the beach, then your student may not know to associate buckets, umbrellas, and boogie boards as items in the beach category.

When thinking about what categories to start teaching first, you will have to think about your students’ exposure to those words or add in additional time to increase their background knowledge of those category groups.

Taking a baseline assessment can help with narrowing down where to begin. Based on your probes, you can see what category groups your students understand and don’t understand. Also, consider introducing those early developing categories such as shapes, colors, and food for students struggling with categorizing.

If you need a resource that has progress monitoring tools to help you find a baseline for determining your student’s understanding of category groups, check out the Level Up Categories Activities Bundle. You will have activities to help you with teaching categories, but also determine your student’s current level of understanding with word relationships. 

How To Teach Categories – What Level To Start With Students

Let’s say your student can sort a group of objects or pictures into two identical sets with 80% accuracy without prompts. When you asked them to sort a group of things by one feature, they needed visual cues at 40% accuracy. Since mastery is below 80% accuracy, sorting items into groups by one feature probably is an excellent place to start in therapy. As your students increase their accuracy, you can move to more challenging category activities or change the group objects to new category groups.

Keep reading the blog post for materials you can use to teach categorization confidently!

Free Category Visual Printables

You need to make an I Spy sensory bin for a fun category game. Your students can go on the hunt to find mini trinkets for the list of category groups. Head to this blog post to grab the game printables.

category activities to build language

You need to download my free category visual printables to make category activities more interactive. You can Velcro them to bins, have kids sort mini trinkets on the mats, or put them around your room for kids to find and name items in the category group.

Materials To Help You Teach Categorization

With students exhibiting moderate-severe deficits with their receptive and expressive language skills in categories, breaking down word relationships is essential for your students to understand the skill.

You can use the Level Up Category Activities Bundle to have students sort by one category feature, choose an item to match a given category description or name, name a category group, and name multiple items in a category group. 

For working on matching pictures or sorting pictures into one category group, having a set of noun flashcards is excellent!

Here is a set with many pictures for basic categories (Amazon affiliate link included.) Check out this set for various nouns, verbs, and adjective flashcards

Whether you need digital category activities, printables, or crafts, I have some resources that could work for your caseload.

Category Boom Cards

Category Flipbook Printable Version

Category Wallet Craftivity

No Prep Category Worksheets


Category Activities With Apps

Categories From I Can Do apps-I love using this app to get baseline data for how students are currently doing with identifying what doesn’t belong and which items go together.

Smarty Ears Go Together APP– This app works on categorization through matching. You can also have the students explain why the items go together after matching them up!

Smarty Ears Categories Learning Center– This app is great because it has different levels to differentiate for your students. You can make things more difficult as your students progress in the categorization levels!

What resources do you have that you love for working on categorizing?

How do you teach categories to your students?

What resources or techniques have you found helpful in teaching your students categorization? If you have a strategy or material you love using that isn’t listed in this blog post, share it in the comments!

New Ways To Play Go Fish In Speech Therapy

New Ways To Play Go Fish In Speech Therapy

The game Go Fish is a staple game for the busy speech pathologist. Kids love the game and you can adapt it to meet so many goals. Today, I want to share some new ways to play Go Fish in speech therapy.


True Confessions From This SLP

Want to know something? I can only play Go Fish so many sessions before I might go out of my mind! The kids absolutely love the game, but the redundancy of having to play it group after group after group drains my energy and enthusiasm. So, I try to play Go Fish during those busy times of the year when therapy planning time is cut in half. I also try to stagger when I play Go Fish, so that isn’t my lesson plan for an ENTIRE day.


Play food is SUCH a big hit with young children. Why not give them space to play with toy food items while also working on essential speech and language skills? Play food sets make for a fantastic addition to your speech therapy materials. Kids love playing with toy food, and you can work on targets like sequencing, CORE vocabulary, AAC, grammar concepts, and more. Click through to read this post to learn 10 ways that play food can be used in speech therapy! #speechtherapy #SLPs #speechskills

New Ways To Play Go Fish In Speech Therapy

My first way you can spice things up with your Go Fish playing is to create “character” names for each student. For my social skills groups we just did it to get them laughing and initiating with peers during the game.

I was Taylor Swift because in a different life I was a pop princess. My kids were dying of laughter every time someone called them by their new “character” name. It increased engagement for my kiddos that don’t always want to initiate with peers. The next day, my SDC teacher told me that the kids could not stop talking about Go Fish. During our end of the year party, one of my students that needs prompts to initiate communication, came right up to me and said, “I want to play Go Fish today.” I would love to know how this twist goes in your therapy room! Tag me on Instagram @thedabblingspeechie and share your story!

Go Fish Speech Therapy- New ways to make this game come to life for your students in speech therapy.

Adapt the name cards to have your student’s target sound in the name!

For your articulation students, you can pick names that have their sound like Mr. Magee for /g/, Mrs. Flamingo for /l-blends/ and Mrs. Ridiculous for /r/. The crazier the better!

Work on Voice Volume & Tone of Voice

For your social skill students that need to work on using the appropriate voice volume in social situations, you can have them work on asking for cards with different voice volumes. You can also adapt this to work on changing your tone of voice to match certain emotions. I used my voice volume visuals from my Behavior Visuals For Students With Autism to help my students identify and model different voice volumes during Go Fish.

Bring in funny props for Go Fish In Speech Therapy

Who doesn’t love having goofy props around? #idontlookcrazyatall

Allow each student to wear the fun prop when it is their turn to ask a peer for a card. This is just to keep the session motivating and fun! I think this could also help some students understand their role during the game. The person wearing the big sunglasses is asking, while the other students wearing crowns are waiting their turn.

If you are looking for Go Fish games that target seasonal verbs, check out all of my seasonal grammar and vocabulary sets. These sets include verbs related to the season or holiday, so you can work on grammar while playing Go Fish. 

You can also use these grammar verb cards to use for Go Fish in your therapy room. Grab any of your articulation or language decks and use them with some of the ideas listed above.

For mixed groups, have your students ask for a word and an adjective word such as, “Do you have a quick rabbit?” or “Do you have a tiny spider?”

How To Make Go Fish Visual For Students

I have a few students that really struggle with understanding the rules of how to play Go Fish. There are too many steps to keep it all straight. My students on the Autism spectrum struggle with the quick transition between turns. This is why I made an easy visual guide for Go Fish. You can click the button below and download the free visual!

How have you adapted Go Fish for your students? I would love to hear your ideas! Comment below or email me at fe*********@th*****************.com.