Squirrel Play-Based Speech Therapy Idea!

Squirrel Play-Based Speech Therapy Idea!

One of the MOST fun themes ever includes squirrels! During the fall season, your students will see squirrels scampering about, darting, and scurrying around outside anywhere there are trees or plants.

They are some of the silliest creatures to watch, so why not incorporate squirrels into your play-based speech therapy sessions?

I want to share a fun squirrel play-based speech therapy activity that you can pair with your favorite squirrel book!

Many of my sessions are structured with a book and then a play-based activity to allow for direct teaching, incorporating literacy, and allowing the child to explore concepts while playing.

You will find Amazon affiliate links for your convenience in this blog post. When you use these links, I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

What You Need For The Squirrel Play-Based Speech Therapy Activity

Change things up in  your traditional speech therapy sessions by using this squirrel play-based speech therapy activity!

To have your squirrel take over, you need any toy set, but the one that would be best is the treehouse toy set from Fisher-Price. You can also use this fun treehouse from Calico Critters or Li’l Woodzeez

You need these mini squirrel figurines, and if you want verb and vocabulary flashcards related to squirrels, you can find those in the Themed Therapy SLP membership. The squirrel theme is part of the September month, but when you get an annual subscription, you have access to all the themes throughout the year, so you can pick the theme you need for your caseload!

Goals to Target with the Squirrel Play Therapy Activity

You can hide different verb and vocabulary flashcards throughout the play set when doing your squirrel takeaway.

Have your squirrels gather all the cards that are hidden around the set. As your student’s squirrels find cards, you can target speech and language goals.

You can also work on verb actions for the squirrels, target pretend play schemes such as preparing for winter, or work on basic concepts with the squirrels.

With your students working on speech sounds, give them words to practice related to squirrels that have their sounds. Or, have some sound-loaded phrases to use while playing.

Change things up in  your traditional speech therapy sessions by using this squirrel play-based speech therapy activity!

For example, if you are working on s-blends, you can naturally target scamper, scurry, squirrel or snack. For students working on /l/, you can have them say “look” every time they find a squirrel or flashcard.

Or, if the squirrels are searching for acorns and nuts, they can “munch” or “chew.”

How would you use this squirrel-themed play-based speech therapy activity to cover goals on your caseload?

Need more Squirrel Speech Therapy Ideas?

Change things up in  your traditional speech therapy sessions by using this squirrel play-based speech therapy activity!

If you are sold on using a squirrel theme with your entire caseload, you need to check out this blog post for more ideas!

This is a very underrated theme because every time I use it, kids LOVE it. To help you rock a squirrel theme longer than a week, check out this squirrel language lesson plan guide in my store!

You can also find a sneaky snacky squirrel toy cheat sheet in this resource

Pool-Themed Play Therapy Toy Ideas for SLPs

Pool-Themed Play Therapy Toy Ideas for SLPs

Going to the pool is always top of mind when you think of summer-themed activities. Cooling off on hot summer days at the pool is an activity many of your students have experienced during summer camps or with family.

Using a play-based activity that your students can relate to makes the session more meaningful. You can reinforce vocabulary and concepts they will use at the pool, making therapy functional.

Today, you will learn about different pool-themed play therapy ideas that you can use to cover your student’s speech and language goals.

Where to Find Pool-Themed Play Therapy Toy Sets

Need summer-themed play therapy ideas for your speech sessions? Check out how to use these pool-themed play toy sets in your play-based therapy sessions.

Having pool-themed play props brings to life concepts related to swimming. I hunted around for pool toy sets and found some affordable and not too big.

If you need a mini pool and slide, this Barbie pool playset is perfect for adding different items that float. Or you can pull out other figurines like Little People, farm animals, or dinosaurs to use with the pool.

When I bought this pool set, I got it 50% off, so it was worth the price. But, if it wasn’t on sale, you may want to check out these other pool sets especially if you don’t want the Barbie that comes with it! 

For your friends who enjoy Peppa Pig or Bluey, these pool playsets are around the $20 or less range and have enough pool elements to cover many speech and language goals. The Peppa Pig set is nice because the pool folds up, making it an excellent travel toy set. At the same time, the Bluey pool set is a little more awkward in size but has innertubes.

You can also make a DIY pool party play set by filling up a container with water. To add pool party supplies, you can add rubber ducks, cut-up felt for a towel, and people figurines to go swimming.

Need Toy Cheat Sheet Companions to Help You Adapt Toys on the Fly?

If you are juggling many different goals in mixed groups and don’t have time to create elaborate lesson plans, try using toy companion cheat sheets.

Play therapy cheat sheets have been a game-changer for jogging my memory for targets to use in therapy. There are over 30 toy cheat sheets, and I will add more as I get requests from you!

And, if you want themed toy guides with sensory bin cheat sheets, check out the Themed Therapy SLP membership. Doors re-open July 22nd. There is a sensory bin and toy guide for a swimming theme for July!

Targeting Speech Sound Goals with the Pool Play Set

When using a toy in play-based therapy for speech sound goals, you want to keep a quick list of words with your student’s target sound nearby!

You can get a lot of trials using this method. For example, if you are having items go down the slide into the pool and working on the phonological process of fronting, you can have students say, “go, cool off, or look.” Similarly, when targeting cluster reduction, you can use “slide, splash, slip, or swish” as the people or items go down the slide.”

Use mini trinkets and throw them in the pool set. Have students use their figurines for swimming around the pool to find the items. Using sound-specific mini trinkets, you can have students practice their sounds when they swim by one.

Need summer-themed play therapy ideas for your speech sessions? Check out how to use these pool-themed play toy sets in your play-based therapy sessions.

Targeting Language Concepts with a Pool-Themed Play Therapy Toy Set

Need summer-themed play therapy ideas for your speech sessions? Check out how to use these pool-themed play toy sets in your play-based therapy sessions.

Whenever you use themed props in your play-based therapy, there are many opportunities to work on basic concepts and word opposites. If you need more ideas on where to find themed props, check out this blog post for some ideas.

With the pool playset, you can use the slides to target up/down, in/out, wet/dry, fast/slow, and over/under as word opposite targets.

Target verb actions such as dive, splash, swim, jump, throw, eat, dry, wrap
Work on describing vocabulary words related to a pool theme such as a towel, diving board, lemonade, innertube, basketball, goggles, sunscreen, umbrella, and floaty.

During play, you can work on social pragmatic language for turn-taking, initiation, commenting, emotions, and problem-solving with pool-related situations.

Create a fun story related to swimming and target oral narration as well as targeting sequencing skills for putting on sunscreen, diving in the pool, or eating a frozen treat after swimming.

AAC CORE words to work on with a Pool Play Therapy Activity

Need summer-themed play therapy ideas for your speech sessions? Check out how to use these pool-themed play toy sets in your play-based therapy sessions.

When working with themed playsets, knowing which target CORE words you want to work on before heading into a session is nice. A cheat sheet list will help you remember to model those words on the student’s device.

Just like with the suggestions for speech sound disorders, you want a cheat sheet list of phrases and words you would like to work on during play. As you play, you can follow the child’s lead and model words on your cheat sheet. Some terms that would work well with this playset are go, stop, more, wait, like/don’t like, what, fun, up, down, don’t, and big.

What goals would you target with a pool play set?

Share some of your pool-themed therapy ideas in the comments. You can help your fellow speech pathologists get inspired with play therapy ideas by sharing your therapy ideas! If you need more summer ideas, check out these blog posts:

Play Themes for the Summer Months

Best Summer YouTube Videos for Speech Therapy (with free download)

Summer-Themed Books to Use in Speech

Crafts to Use with a Summer-Theme

Cause and Effect Toys For Play Therapy

Cause and Effect Toys For Play Therapy

Cause and effect toys teach children that their actions can cause something to happen. When a child blows in a bubble wand, bubbles fly out; when a child pushes a car into a tower of blocks, it falls.

Using cause and effect toys in speech therapy can help your students build language. Still, it can also increase attention span, create curiosity, and improve joint attention skills. Today, I am going to share some of my favorite cause and effect toys you can use to help increase engagement while also working on speech and language goals!

What Toys Do You Have In Your Therapy Stash?

Some of the BEST cause and effect toys are the ones that you already have in your speech therapy material stash. A set of blocks and anything to knock them down work wonders! Amazon affiliate links are included for your convenience.

I found these wooden blocks at the Dollar tree and grabbed some of my cars. While stacking the blocks, you can work on “up, more, exclamations (i.e., oh, yay) and stack.”

Stacking cups, blocks, or boxes are also versatile for teaching tall/short, hiding things under, and using pretend play bowls. This set from Brilliant Basics Stack and Roll Cups is under $10 and can be stacked or put together as a ball to roll.

For a set of stacking boxes, Melissa and Doug have a set under $15, but these Babies Dinosaur Stacking Blocks have openings to put dinosaurs. You work on stacking, up/down, and in/out.

Cause and effect toys can improve language, executive functioning, and joint attention. Not to mention using cause and effect toys are super fun for children.

Play Therapy Cheat Sheets

Check out the toy companion cheat sheets if you serve students with various goals and want to start using ONE toy to cover many target areas. There are toy companions for stacking cups, cars, and over 30 types of toys and games (new toy companion cheat sheets are added to the resource as you send in requests.)

Cause and Effect Toys That Provide a Surprise

Toys that have a surprise are great for improving joint attention. Kids love the anticipation of finding what’s inside. You can also be super animated with your facial expressions to share in the “surprise” and excitement.

For SLPs on a budget, grabbing some plastic eggs at the Dollar Tree or Walmart during the Easter holiday is excellent for hiding mini items or pictures inside. You can read here are you can use those eggs with a chicken theme.

You also can use plastic cups to hide items underneath. If you are looking for things to add to a sensory bin, check out the toys from Learning Resources. The Surprise Party presents are great for a birthday theme. They also have other versions, such as acornspicnic baskets, or farm animals.

Need a toy companion for these surprise party boxes? They are included in the toy companion cheat sheet guides!

Toys that Encourage Children to Request More of an Action

Cause and effect toys can improve language, executive functioning, and joint attention. Not to mention using cause and effect toys are super fun for children.

When you use cause and effect toys that spark your student’s curiosity to want to do it again, you have some golden opportunities to work on communication!

And, if they need the item or help from you to watch that action happen, you can work on functional communication such as help, want, go, more, or gestures to signal to make that action happen again.

My two favorite toys for sparking some curiosity are ball poppers and wind-up toys (part of the toy companion cheat sheets.)

You can work on using verbal routines (i.e., ready, set, go), target CORE vocabulary (i.e., go, again, more, turn), turn-taking, joint attention, and social communication (i.e., funny, help me.)

What are Your Favorite Toys to Work on Cause and Effect?

What toys do you use to work on cause and effect in speech therapy? Your recommendations for toys are always the best. Share in the comments so other SLPs can find toys that will help plan their next speech therapy session.

If you need more toy and play therapy ideas, you can always search “toys” in the search bar or check out blog posts HERE

Cause and effect toys can improve language, executive functioning, and joint attention. Not to mention using cause and effect toys are super fun for children.
St. Patrick’s Preschool Play Ideas for Speech Therapy

St. Patrick’s Preschool Play Ideas for Speech Therapy

I don’t know a student who doesn’t get excited about hiding items in things or going on hunts to discover something sneaky. You’ve come to the right blog post if you need st. patrick’s preschool play therapy ideas that incorporate sneaky leprechauns or hidden gold!

When I spotted some wooden buildings at the Target Dollar Spot, I knew I needed to hoard, I mean, stock up on these fab toys.

You can use them with a community helper and transportation theme, and you can also do some theme smashing with st. patrick’s preschool play!

st. patrick’s Preschool Materials You Need

To have some sneaky leprechauns invade the town, you need the wooden buildings from the Target Dollar Spot. I don’t think the wooden buildings are available anymore at Target, but I found some alternatives that I will link below. For your St. Patrick’s preschool play activity, you will need the following:

Gold coins – You can find these at Dollar Tree

Mini pots – Usually, these are at the Dollar Tree during Halloween and St. Patrick’s season

Wooden buildings: Found at Target Dollar Spot, you can also find them on Mercari or try these Melissa and Doug blocks. 

Leprechaun printables – You can get them in the St. Patrick’s Day Grammar and Vocabulary set

Leprechaun and St. Patrick’s Day props – I always look in the dog toy section at TJ Maxx. Check out where you can find themed props HERE. Here is another version like the one in the pictures in the blog post. 

Binder clips to attach your leprechauns

 It’s time to get your play on! Easy St. Patrick’s preschool play therapy ideas for your speech therapy sessions that will be sure to engage your friends and work on their goals.

Sneaky Leprechauns Hiding Around the Town

It’s time to get your play on! Easy St. Patrick’s preschool play therapy ideas for your speech therapy sessions that will be sure to engage your friends and work on their goals.

Hide some leprechauns under the wooden buildings and tell your students that some sneaky leprechauns are in our town! We must find them.

Grab your favorite toy car or vehicle and look ‘under’ the buildings around the town. While you drive around, target ‘go’, ‘stop’, ‘look’, ‘where’, and ‘around.’

Have your students share three things they might see at each building. So, if you stop at the school, they can name school supplies.

Give your students inference clues about ‘where’ the leprechaun could be hiding and target ‘where’ questions during this entire activity!

How would you use this activity in your mixed groups? Share in the comments.

Go on a Gold Hunt Around the Town

If you have those gold coins and the mini pots, you can have students drive around the town looking for gold coins. With a permanent marker, you can write different numbers on the coins. Whatever number it says, that’s how many times your student has to practice their speech sound.

Or, you can put different amounts of coins under the buildings to work on none, more, less, and a plural noun marker. 

What’s great about this activity is you can also work on ‘where’ questions and category items that would belong at each building!

How would you adapt this activity for your students? Share in the comments.

It’s time to get your play on! Easy St. Patrick’s preschool play therapy ideas for your speech therapy sessions that will be sure to engage your friends and work on their goals.

St. Patrick’s Preschool Circle Time Activity

It’s time to get your play on! Easy St. Patrick’s preschool play therapy ideas for your speech therapy sessions that will be sure to engage your friends and work on their goals.

It can be tough to engage your young students during your co-teaching lessons! They want to wiggle and move, so it can be challenging to keep them excited at the carpet time activity.

But, if you make it feel like a fun game, they will stay excited during circle time. And in the process, you can target waiting, turn-taking, functional communication, and language skills.

With your gold coins, leprechaun printables, or St. Patrick’s themed props like shamrocks, or rainbows, you can tell your students that SOMEONE took the gold coins from the leprechaun’s pot.

To see these therapy ideas in action, head to my Instagram

 

Have all your students close their eyes while you give some students a gold coin. Tell them ahead of time that if they get a gold coin, they have to hide it with their hands. Then, everyone opens their eyes and has to ask different friends in the group if they stole a gold coin.

You target yes/no questions, ‘who’ questions, initiation of questions, waiting, and turn-taking!

If you have a leprechaun prop, you can also play “Who did the leprechaun sneaky upon?” to target the basic concept behind it.

Need More St. Patrick’s Day Therapy Ideas?

I would love it for SLPs on social media if you tagged me @thedabblingspeechie to share how you used these St. Patrick’s preschool play therapy ideas in your sessions with students.

Don’t stress about St. Patrick’s Day for your elementary caseload. There are a LOT more engaging therapy ideas on this blog post to help you with planning. 

It’s time to get your play on! Easy St. Patrick’s preschool play therapy ideas for your speech therapy sessions that will be sure to engage your friends and work on their goals.
Play Themes for Summer

Play Themes for Summer

When I started using themes to guide my lesson planning, I liked to consider the current seasons. Using a season as a theme is relatable to all of our students. This makes it easy to build in high-interest and highly relevant activities which can be used for multiple speech goals.

Summer is always a fun theme to use because it means a lot of fun indoor and outdoor play activities. This blog is all about great summer play themes you can use with your ESY students, private students, or even for some home carryover activities. Amazon affiliate links are provided in this blog post for your convenience. I earn a small commission when you purchase something with my link with no additional cost to you.

Pretend Play Themes for the Summer Season

Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.

During the summer season, your students may be going to the beach with their family and friends. The beach is the perfect place to incorporate play! You can easily target those semantic and vocabulary skills by categorizing any beach related words. Make lists of ocean animals, beach snacks, beach items, and ocean activities. Pretend to get ready to go to the beach and sequence the steps. This is a fun, functional way to work on those sequence words and verbs. You can even target language comprehension by giving your students directions on how to get ready for the beach with some basic concepts.

Providing guidance on how to make a sensory bin at the beach to your families is a great carry over activity to support your students’ generalization. Ask your families to simply bring a bin to the beach. They can fill it with sand, water, any shells they collect, or toys they bring along. Then prompt them to target that student’s language goals.

If you want to make the ocean sensory bin pictured above, here is what you will need:

Tasty and Fun Summer Play Themes

S’mores, ice cream, and lemonade! Yum! These three themes are always super fun and engaging for my students because who doesn’t love ice cream and s’mores? You can develop your students’ pretend play skills by pretending you’re going to the ice cream shop, camping, or selling lemonade at a stand.

Plus, you can work on so many social communication skills while you are eating your summer treats. Specifically, you can work on initiating requests for ingredients and flavors, make comments on what you like and don’t like, and work on turn taking/cooperative play.

 

Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.

For ideas on how to use an ice cream toy set, head to this blog post! It’s full of ideas on how to incorporate an ice cream toy set into speech therapy. Using cloud dough or play dough is also a good for ice cream related pretend play.

There are tons of ways to use a camping and s’mores play themes into speech therapy. If you’re not sure how to get started check out my previous blog post all about camping speech therapy activities.

Lemonade Theme Therapy Ideas

Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.

Learning Resources has a lemonade stand themed card game that can easily be used in speech therapy.

I would recommend checking out Amazon’s lemonade toy set that is currently under $15 and great for a lemonade pretend play activity.

You can also make a lemonade sensory bin with lemon scented rice.

More Ways to Use Play Food in Speech Therapy

 Have a summer picnic with your student and work on categorizing food by fruits, snacks, and entrees. Additionally, you can use a basket work on basic concepts like in/out, in front/behind, over, under. You can also incorporate those social skills I mentioned earlier. 

Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.
Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.

Pretend to visit a farmers market with your students. Talk about the produce you would see and what you would need to bring with you. Once you are done, talk about the produce that you saw and bought to work on vocabulary and verb tensing.

If you need more play food ideas for preschool speech therapy, head to this blog post. 

Summer Play Theme Sensory Bins

Use a garden or car wash theme to make sensory bins to target your students goals. Fill a bin with water, soap, and cars or trucks of different sizes and colors. List the attributes or the cars and work on basic concepts as the cars and trucks go in and out of the car wash.

You can also fill a bin with some soil, grass, and seeds. Have your student push the seeds and look for small bugs and critters! There are a lot of bug hunt toy sets that can be incorporates into this sensory bin. 

Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.
Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.

Summer Garden Therapy Ideas

Use fake flowers and other gardening supplies to create a pretend play theme of a flower shop or planting a garden. This can be a great opportunity to talk about the vocabulary and social communication of growing flowers and buying flowers for others. Buying flowers can teach the concept of giving, showing love with gifts as well as the verbs and vocabulary for making a flower bouquet. This is also a time to practice emotion words with your students! How would someone feel if you gave them flowers? How would someone feel if you didn’t give them flowers?

For more ideas on how to use flowers as a theme in speech therapy, head to this blog post.

More Summer Play Themes

Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.

Here are some more summer theme ideas to use for pretend play. You can target all of the previously mentioned therapy goals using these themes:

  • Going Fishing 
  • Zoo trip
  • Traveling or planning for a road trip
  • Going to a sandwich shop

If you’re interested in more seasonal themes, check out my spring play themes blog post.

I would also recommend reading this previous post for more information on play based speech therapy!

Need Tips for Implementing Play Themes?

When I first began incorporating play based activities into my therapy, I felt very overwhelmed. I quickly began to run out of ideas on how to incorporate my students’ goals in play without being repetitive or burnt out. I have found that when I have cheat sheets handy in my sessions, I spend less time thinking of targets and more time meaningfully interacting with my students. If you want to save more brain energy AND feel prepared for play therapy without hours of planning, then grab these toy companion cheat sheets for speech and language therapy. Included are cheat sheet guides for over 25 toys!

Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.
Need some play-based speech therapy ideas with a summer theme? Check out these fun summer play themes you can do during ESY or with private clients.

What Summer Pretend Play Activities Do You Use With Your Students?

I always love to hear what other SLP’s are doing with their student. Have any summer themed activities you’ve tried and loved with your students? Let me know in the comments! 

SLP Winter Survival Kit Waitlist

winter-themed materials

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