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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.

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!

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!

Ep. 44 How to Cover Various Goals Using Themes

Ep. 44 How to Cover Various Goals Using Themes

Hey Hey SLPs! In this week’s episode you will learn how you can use themes to cover a lot of goals. I will walk you through what is a theme, how I started doing theme therapy and you will hear examples of how you can take a theme and adapt them for all ages. If you are new to theme therapy, this episode will give you a ton of nuggets to help you feel more comfortable. You will hear how to adapt these themes even for a large caseload! You can also get a free themed therapy planning cheat sheet, so you can map out all the goals and skills you can target with whatever theme you pick.   

In this episode you’ll hear:

  • What is Theme Therapy?
  • How I started doing theme therapy.
  • Tangible examples of theme therapy.
  If you LOVE doing themed therapy, but are tired of spending endless hours searching Pinterest and TPT for themed activities to cover your Prek-5th grade caseload, then the Themed Therapy SLP membership is for you! Having monthly themed activities for a wide range of goals and ages will save you time, stress and money! Want to know when the membership will be ready? Get on the waitlist by clicking the pink button below.   Themed Therapy SLP Membership WaitlistGet on the waitlist to know when this helpful membership is available.

30 Themed Speech Therapy Ideas for Easy Planning

30 Themed Speech Therapy Ideas for Easy Planning

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! Doors Close August 6th.

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.

BONUS THEME IDEAS:

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
  6. Bugs/Insects
  7. Playground
  8. Frogs
  9. Holidays
  10. Kites
  11. Camping
  12. Pirates
  13. Apples
  14. Cooking
  15. Squirrels (check out these fun squirrel ideas)
  16. Ocean
  17. Transportation
  18. Construction
  19. Around the house
  20. Farm (lots of ideas in this post) and digital therapy ideas HERE.
  21. Flowers and Garden
  22. Camping – the BEST summer theme ideas HERE!
  23. Weather
  24. Dinosaurs
  25. Pets
  26. Pizza
  27. Ice Cream
  28. Super Heroes
  29. Presidents
  30. Monsters (click here for some teletherapy monster activities)

Access Free Themed Speech Therapy Lessons

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.

Don’t forget to download your free Themed Therapy Guide. This guide has what you need to get started planning your themed speech therapy sessions. Simply click the image above for this free resource!

And more!

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!

Noun-Function Sensory Bins

Noun-Function Sensory Bins

You know those days you’re scrambling for an engaging hands-on activity that goes along with your lesson? Rather than scouring your shelves or rushing to find a resource that requires lengthy assembly, check out my noun-function sensory bins.

Targeting noun-function is a great way to develop language skills. I like to use noun-function activities with my preschool and kindergarten students who need to build their functional vocabulary. Filling a sensory bin with your target vocabulary is a fun and engaging way to practice this skill with your students. Today, I am going to show you how to make a “Can you find it?” noun-function sensory bin to use in language therapy.

Materials You Need for the Sensory Bin

Make a noun function sensory bin to engage your students while working on language concepts in speech therapy. Check out how you can make this easy sensory bin and use for weeks!

Don’t forget to check out my previous blog post for ideas on how to add variety to your sensory bins. I talk about different sensory bin fillers, materials, etc.

How to Set Up The Sensory Bin

Once you’ve got your materials, setting up your sensory bins is quick and easy (great for those of you who have a large caseload). The first thing you want to do is select the filler that you’ll be using. I suggest saving any of the smaller objects (beans, rice) for you older students. If you’re planning a themed lesson, you’ll want to pick a filler that matches that theme. For example, for a Fall theme, using some fake leaves is always fun. Add your filler to the bin. Prepare your target noun cards by printing and cutting them out. I always like to laminate my cards or put them on cardstock to add some durability. Add a paperclip to each card if you want your students to use a magnetic wand to find the cards in your sensory bin. That’s it, your sensory bin is ready for your therapy session!

Targeting Noun-Functions With Seasonal Sensory Bins

Make a noun function sensory bin to engage your students while working on language concepts in speech therapy. Check out how you can make this easy sensory bin and use for weeks!

Targeting receptive vocabulary by having students identify pictures and categories will be quick and easy. You can have your students look for something to eat, wear, or play with. Once they go on the hunt, I like to have them label and create a sentence to explain the noun-function. This is always a great way for me to target receptive and expressive language all in one session. 

If a student is struggling with expressively explaining the function of the noun, you can provide a field of 2 or 3 pictures and have the student point to the one that you’re targeting. You can also target noun-function receptively by having your student answer yes/no questions.

I love to pair this activity with visual sentence strips. These help my students expressively share the noun-function in a complete sentence. If you need visual supports and sentence strips, grab the seasonal push-in lesson plans that have everything ready to go!

Make a noun function sensory bin to engage your students while working on language concepts in speech therapy. Check out how you can make this easy sensory bin and use for weeks!

More Language Skills to Target

These noun-function sensory bins can be used for a variety of language skills, making them a great option for mixed groups or multiple groups throughout your day. Here are some more ways you can use these bins:

  • You can easily adapt this sensory bin to also work on CORE vocabulary to make requests, comments, and the words “more,” “want,” “like,” “don’t like,” “where,” and “turn.”
  • Build depth of knowledge with nouns by having students describe them by semantic features after they find an item.
  • Use the nouns in sentences to work on grammar concepts such as plural noun markers, prepositional phrases, noun-verb agreement, or adding adjectives.
  • Create a story with some of the items to work on oral narration or articulation carryover.
Make a noun function sensory bin to engage your students while working on language concepts in speech therapy. Check out how you can make this easy sensory bin and use for weeks!

How Would You Use This Bin in Therapy?

If you’re looking for more ideas or inspiration, take a look at my Spring, Fall, and Winter themed sensory bins for language therapy.

I love using these sensory bins with my students. They’re super easy and fun! Share some ways that you like to incorporate sensory bins into your therapy in the comments!

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