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Using spring vocabulary to teach grammar

Using spring vocabulary to teach grammar

I think we can all say as speech pathologists that planning engaging therapy lessons that cover a lot of goals, and provide meaningful practice can be HARD to do. What if I told you that you could use spring vocabulary to target a LOT of grammar skills and do it for the entire spring season!?

Using spring vocabulary to work on grammar concepts helps provide increased engagements with vocabulary (language-impaired kids need 36 engagements to learn a word), and it helps your students make connections with words that they hear during the spring weather season. In this blog post, I am going to share grammar ideas for your K-2 students, but some can be adapted for upper elementary students too! 

 

Evidence-Based Practices for Grammar

Students with language disorders need to be explicitly taught grammar rules when learning to add new morphemes to a verb or noun. One study found that implicitly and explicitly teaching grammar rules showed significant improvements with the students learning the grammatical forms.

Implicit teaching – giving a lot of exposure of the morpheme without teaching the explanation or rule. So, reading a book to a student with a lot of emphasis on the morpheme is an example of implicitly teaching the grammar rule. During a play activity, the SLP/educator may model a verb tense while playing in hopes the student will begin to use that verb tense.

Explicit teaching – providing direct instruction about the grammar rules and how to use the rule in language.

Tips for how to use spring vocabulary to target grammar skills in speech therapy

Teaching Methods That Will Increase Your Student’s Expressive Grammar Skills

How to use spring vocabulary to teach grammar concepts in speech therapy
  • Teaching the target directly
  • Modeling the target with emphasis
  • Prompting the child to use the target
  • Conversation Recasting the child’s errors on the target – when the SLP models what the child said with the correct grammar and emphasizing the correct morpheme such as “I do like catsssss.” You can read more about this evidence-based practice on this BLOG POST.
  • Providing feedback on the child’s productions

To read more about effective grammar intervention information, you can read my blog post, HERE.

Smith-Lock, K. M., Leitao, S., Lambert, L. & Nickels, L. (2013). Effective intervention for expressive grammar in children with specific language impairment. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 48(3), 265–282.

Easy Ways to Use Spring Vocabulary to Teach Grammar

Use spring vocabulary to teach transition words while comparing and contrasting nouns

With your students, you can work on comparing and contrasting spring-themed nouns. Not only will this help build depth of knowledge with the vocabulary words (i.e, discussing category groups, function, texture, size, shape, location, etc.), you can also work on transition words ‘because,’ ‘although,’ and conjunctions ‘and’ and ‘but.’

You can also work on noun-verb agreement such as “A water bottle has a lid, but a juice box has a seal to punch with a straw when you want to drink it.”

To work on singular and plural noun forms, you can practice when comparing/contrasting words such as hot dog/hamburger.

Hamburgers have a top and bottom bun. Hot dogs have one bun. Hamburgers have a round meat patty and hot dogs have a long stick of meat. 

FREE Compare and Contrast Graphic Organizer

Do you need a visual way to show your students how to compare two nouns? Use this FREE compare and contrast graphic organizer to use with spring nouns.

Here are some good spring noun pairings:

  • garden bag/picnic basket
  • rake/shovel
  • bird/kite
  • bug jar/bug container

If you need more spring compare/contrast cards, there are 18 noun pairings in my spring vocabulary and grammar activities set.

 

Use spring vocabulary to teach grammar skills in speech therapy sessions

Grammar Drill Ideas for Plural Nouns and Third Person Singular

Use spring vocabulary to help your students learn the grammar for marking singular or plural. Make a list of spring items that you may see or use in the springtime. Then, have your students practice marking plurals such as hoses, birds, watering cans, trees, etc.

Another functional drill activity would be to practice third person singular using spring items. Often times, kids like to go bug hunting, so they can talk about what the boy/girl put in the bug jar. For example, you can practice, “He puts three ladybugs in the jar.”

For SLPs that love sensory bins or have a fun jar, use these plastic mini insects (Amazon affiliate link) to have students take turns putting some bugs in the jar. Then, the students can say, “Jeremiah puts a ladybug in the jar.” You can also work on answering “who” questions by asking “Who put in a ladybug?”

If you need spring task cards to work on these skills, they are in my spring grammar and vocabulary sets.

Tips for how to use spring vocabulary to target grammar skills in speech therapy
Tips for how to use spring vocabulary to target grammar skills in speech therapy

Using Spring Vocabulary to Build Grammatically Correct Sentences

Use spring vocabulary in grammatically correct sentences to work on using verbs in functional sentences.

One a piece of paper, you can make a word web with your students to talk about everything that reminds them of spring. After you generate a nice list, have them create grammatically correct sentences with the nouns and verbs. This is a great way to work on past/present verbs, adverbs, prepositional phrases while also working on other skills such as talking about noun-functions, where items are located, and what parts they have. I like having a spring vocabulary poster, so I can talk about everything spring related with my students. It makes the session easy to prep and I know I can cover a lot of goals.

 

Play Grammar Charades with Spring Vocabulary

You can also play charades with your spring vocabulary or spring verbs. This can provide some movement in your session and also allow meaningful practice of grammar targets!

Make a list of spring verbs or gather all your spring verb pictures. Put them in a hat and have students pick a verb. They can act out the verb. Once the group guesses the verb, you can have students practice making sentences with present, past, and future tenses.

 

More Games to Play with Spring Vocabulary

Other fun games you can practice is doing word associations such as with the word ‘blowing’ students can come up with spring vocabulary related to that verb. For example, you can see a kite blowing in the wind, or you can blow bubbles.

Kids also love the game Go Fish, so you can use spring vocabulary or spring verbs as your stimulus items. Another game I like to use is the Flashlight game where you turn off the lights and look for words on the wall. If you own magnetic wands, you can add paper clips to your vocabulary or verb cards, turn them over and have kids select a card. Put a hidden token under one of the cards. The person who finds the token wins! You can read about more magnetic wand ideas HERE.

How Do You Use Spring Vocabulary in Therapy?

I would love to know all the ways you are using spring vocabulary to work on grammar goals. Share your ideas in the comments! If you need more spring speech therapy ideas to use with your mixed groups, check out this replay Facebook LIVE video filled with ideas.

How to Conversational Recast with Grammar Therapy

How to Conversational Recast with Grammar Therapy

We all want our therapy time with students to be as productive and effective as possible. Our therapy sessions fly by, and when you have mixed groups, you wonder if you even made a dent in helping a child make progress on their goals. That’s not the best feeling.

That’s why I want to share a conversational recast strategy for grammar therapy to help you make the most of your sessions. Plus, I have a FREE  100 unique verbs checklist to keep track of verbs you recast during an activity.

What is a Conversational Recast?

Basically, a conversational recast is a fancy word for emphasizing what the child said with the correct grammar morpheme. For example, if the child said, “He eat,” the clinician could say, “Yes, he eatsssss cookies.” You probably already do this evidence-based practice naturally in your sessions. Still, when you are sitting at IEP meetings, you can confidently tell the IEP team that you are using EBP with grammar intervention.

 

How I Was Implementing Grammar Therapy

In the past, I would pick 3-6 verbs I wanted to target in therapy. Then, I would conversational recast those 3-6 verbs throughout the session. Whether I was doing a worksheet, using task cards, or play-based therapy, I used a handful of verbs as my targets. I thought by targeting a small set of verbs over and over again would help my students learn the grammatical morphemes easier.

For example, if we were playing with a farmhouse and working on present progressive verb tense, you would hear me using conversational recasts such as “The cow is eating. The horse is eating. The pig is eating. Now, the cow is sleeping. The horse is jumping. The pig is rolling in the mud. The cow is rolling in the grass.”

With my grammar intervention, I would also explicitly teach the grammar rules and then cueing the student to try and use the morpheme.

The way I was doing therapy was NOT wrong or ineffective; however, when reading about the positive outcomes from the research study, “Variability in the language input to children enhances learning in a treatment context,” it gave me permission to start adding in harder verb targets into my therapy sessions.

Using conversational recasts to support grammar intervention

Using 24 Unique Verb Conversational Recast in a Session

Easy to use conversational recast cheat sheet to make grammar therapy easier to implement!

This research study looked to see if 18 preschoolers with language impairments made better progress with learning grammatical morphemes when either conversational recasts of 12 verbs two times in a session or 24 unique verbs were conversational recast in a session. The study found that when the clinicians used 24 unique verbs in a session, progress was better. 

I know what you might be thinking….how in the heck am I supposed to think of 24 unique verbs in a mixed group? With off-task behaviors? With limited time to prepare materials?

If you did not think these thoughts, I did! I  tried implementing this conversational recast approach with activities I had planned. It was hard to think of verbs on the spot and keep students engaged. 

So, I created a cheat sheet with 100 unique verbs that I could checkoff while doing any therapy activity. That way, you could put it in a page protector sleeve and check off verbs that you conversationally recast during activities.

 

Even if you weren’t able to hit 24 unique verbs in a therapy session, this reminds us all that switching up the variety of verbs is beneficial for our student’s learning the grammatical morphemes. You can now provide more unique verbs in therapy and feel confident that you aren’t making grammar intervention more confusing for students!

Need More Cheat Sheets to Help Save Lesson Planning Time?

Play-based therapy can be an effective way to approach grammar intervention for a variety of reasons. For starters, it is easy to grab a toy off the shelf and start using it in therapy. Another thing to note is that students are more engaged when they feel like they are “playing,” so using toys gets excellent buy-in from students. Having to think of 24 unique verbs on the spot while using a toy is a little daunting for the busy SLP, right? I know I need to conserve my brain energy to write that after school and conducting therapy all day can drain my brain. 

That’s why I created toy companion cheat sheets to use any toy and have the grammar targets already selected. Having cheat sheets helps me follow the child’s lead for what toy they want to play with while allowing me the freedom to enjoy therapy. It’s a great feeling knowing that I don’t have to think of verbs on the spot in therapy! Plus, you can also give these toy companions to teachers and parents and provide them with some ideas for working on grammar outside of your sessions. 

Using toy companion cheat sheets to conversationally recast verbs in grammar intervention
Using toy companion cheat sheets to conversationally recast verbs in grammar intervention
Using toy companion cheat sheets to conversationally recast verbs in grammar intervention

More Ideas for Implementing Conversational Recast in Speech Therapy

If you are needing more ideas on how to implement this conversation recasting strategy, I have a replay of an Instagram LIVE I did talking about some therapy ideas. You can also check out this paper plate craft that is easy to use for grammar HERE. When you don’t have time to prep and plan activities, you can head to my store to find grammar activities that include a variety of verbs and align with EBP.

Conversational recast using this paper plate activity in grammar therapy

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