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! 

10 Ways to Use a Cookie Toy Set in Speech

10 Ways to Use a Cookie Toy Set in Speech

Playing with toy sets is one of the best ways for kids to interact with their environments and learn about the things around them without getting into things they shouldn’t. Even more so, kids love animals, which is why pet hospital toy sets can be such a great tool to incorporate into your speech therapy sessions! While acquiring a pet hospital toy set is an upfront cost, there are so many different speech and language skills that you can target while “playing” with your speech students!

Where Can I Buy a Baking Cookie Toy Set for Speech Therapy?

 

There are a few different cookie toy sets available online. All of the ones I’m suggesting below can be found on Amazon, but you might be able to find them at stores like Target, too. The links below are Amazon affiliate links for your convenience.

Melissa and Doug Cookie Dough Play Set

Melissa and Doug Baking Play Set – you can use these tools and use playdough to make the cookies.

Use a Play Dough Pretend Play Set for Making Cookies and Milk

Cookie Mixer Set by Tiny Land Inc

 

Engage your speech therapy students with these 10 ideas for using a baking cookies toy set in speech therapy! So many speech skills can be targeted with it.

Play-Based Speech and Language Toy Companion Cheat Sheets

Need a cheat sheet guide to help you with targeting wh- questions, Tier II vocabulary, articulation, basic concepts, adjectives, and helpful therapy ideas for toys you use during play-based therapy? Grab this Toy Companion Cheat Sheet Guide for Prek-2nd grade and have stimulus targets mapped out for 18 different toys.

Engage your speech therapy students with these 10 ideas for using a baking cookies toy set in speech therapy! So many speech skills can be targeted with it.
Engage your speech therapy students with these 10 ideas for using a baking cookies toy set in speech therapy! So many speech skills can be targeted with it.

Using a Cookie Toy Set in Play-Based Speech Therapy

Engage your speech therapy students with these 10 ideas for using a baking cookies toy set in speech therapy! So many speech skills can be targeted with it.
  1. Discuss kitchen safety when cooking. Target negation for not, don’t, never. Work on the cause and effect of what happens if we get cookies out of the oven without protective gloves or not putting your fingers in the mixer when it is turned on.
  1. Practice decorating and serving cookies to partners to work on turn-taking and initiation of communication. Share opinions about if they like/don’t like the cookie, requesting milk to go with their cookies.
  1. Put the cookies “in” and “out: of a jar. Discuss “who” took a cookie out of the jar.
  1. Work on vocabulary and grammar skills while making pretend cookies. Practice sequencing the steps. Ask the students what happened first, middle, last.
  1. Talk about the social rules for baking (hygiene) and when/why you would prepare cookies for someone (party, death, thoughtful gift, etc.)

More Therapy Ideas Using a Cookie Toy Set

  1. Feed a stuffed animal or cut out the cookies while practicing speech or language targets.
  1. Put task cards out and have the students “find the” adjective, category, noun-function, etc. Have them put a cookie on the correct task card.
  1. Work on singular and plural nouns and noun-verb agreement with stuffed animals. Give the animals different items (cookies, oven mitt, rolling pin). Explain what each animal has or ask simple “who” questions.
  1. Have different problems occur during pretend play (burnt cookies, spatula drops, forget an ingredient) and discuss solutions to the problems. 
  1. Sort items into different subcategories such as the spatula, cookie tray are kitchen utensils, flour, butter, sugar are food ingredients, and a mixer, and oven are appliances. Describe these items by attributes (i.e., category, noun-function, location, parts, size, textures, etc.)
Engage your speech therapy students with these 10 ideas for using a baking cookies toy set in speech therapy! So many speech skills can be targeted with it.

More Toys to Use in Play Therapy

Engage your speech therapy students with these 10 ideas for using a baking cookies toy set in speech therapy! So many speech skills can be targeted with it.

If you are loving all these toy ideas for play therapy, you can read more blog posts on some of my favorite toys to use in therapy.

When I pull out a toy knowing the purpose of how I will use it to cover goals, I feel confident with my therapy choice. It’s okay to put the worksheets away if you are FUNctionally using toys to target speech and language goals.

Your students will probably be more engaged with your lesson for the day!

Check out my favorite toys and 10 ways to use them in therapy:

Ice Cream Toy Set

Toy Trains in Speech

Using Play Food in Therapy

Farmhouse Toy Set

How Do You Use a Baking Cookies Toy Set in Speech Therapy?

 

Do you have a fun way to engage your students with a baking cookies toy set in speech therapy? Share in the comments, tag me on Instagram @thedabblingspeechie, or email me at feliceclark@thedabblingspeechie.com.

10 ways to use an ice cream toy set in speech

10 ways to use an ice cream toy set in speech

When it comes to play therapy, we want to use toys that are relatable and motivating for our students. What kid doesn’t LOVE ice cream? Ice cream is a dessert that so many kids experience and enjoy, why not use it to target speech and language goals?

An ice cream toy set is a versatile speech therapy toy that your preschool and elementary students will enjoy using. This makes lesson planning easier when you have one toy set that can be adapted to target many different goals.

Today, I am going to share 10 ways that you can use an ice cream toy set in play-based therapy. If you are interested in doing more play-based therapy and want some tips, head to this blog post.

Where Can I Buy an Ice Cream Toy Set for Speech Therapy?

Here are some of the best ice cream playsets I would recommend checking out for pretend play activities. If you are on a budget, check out Goodwills, Offer Up, or Facebook Marketplace. Sometimes even sharing a post on social media asking friend and family if they have toys to donate can be an affordable way to collect some of these items. You can also try to get your toy sets through Donor’s Choose

Favorite Speech Therapy Toy Sets for Ice Cream Pretend Play

How to use an ice cream toy set to cover a wide-range of goals in speech therapy

 Melissa and Doug Scoop and Serve Ice Cream Counter – I own this one and LOVE it! It’s a little more expensive but is great for an ice cream shop pretend play activity.

Melissa and Doug Ice Cream Cone Set – this set is more affordable and would be great for pretend play with eating ice cream at home for dessert.

 

Sweet Treats Ice Cream Parlor by Battat – this set is probably the most affordable and has all the accessories to make your own ice cream sundaes. It could be great for an ice cream party pretend play activity.

Playdoh Kitchen Ice Cream Party Set – you know your kids will go bananas when they see they can make playdough ice cream sundaes in speech!

Kidzlane Ice Cream Toy Set – is a versatile set that comes with cones, cups, bowls and waffle cones. Plus, if you add water to the ice cream scoops, they change colors for new flavors. Plus, they are dishwasher safe, so you can easily sanitize these toys.

Play-Based Speech and Language Toy Companion Cheat Sheets

How to use an ice cream toy set to cover a wide-range of goals in speech therapy

Need a cheat sheet guide to help you with targeting wh- questions, Tier II vocabulary, articulation, basic concepts, adjectives, and helpful therapy ideas for toys you use during play-based therapy? Grab this Toy Companion Cheat Sheet Guide for Prek-2nd grade and have stimulus targets mapped out for 18 different toys. 

There is a two-page toy companion for an ice cream toy set that will help you remember targets to use in your play-based therapy. When you don’t have enough time to plan therapy, you can count on your cheat sheets to help you have effective therapy.

Engage your speech therapy students with these 10 ideas for using an ice cream toy set in speech therapy! So many speech skills can be targeted with it.

Using an Ice Cream Toy Set in Play-Based Speech Therapy

 Engage your speech therapy students with these 10 ideas for using an ice cream toy set in speech therapy! So many speech skills can be targeted with it.

1.Role play different social situations using the ice cream toy. Have the students make a sundae or ice cream for another person working on conversation skills and perspective taking.

2.Create different flavors of ice cream with the student’s speech sound or target adjectives.

3.Work on following directions with basic concepts using the ice cream cones.

4.Answer “who” questions by giving students different types of ice cream.

5.Phonology milkshake: Students can only put items in the blender that have their sound.

6.Work on sequencing steps for making an ice cream sundae or a milkshake.

7.Sort ice cream toppings into sub-categories, such as fruit, crunchy toppings, sweet, and sauces.

8.Discuss problems and solutions related to ice cream, such as if you drop your ice cream or the shop doesn’t have the flavor you like.

9.Work on speech and language while doing an ice cream shop pretend play activity.

  1. Talk about the noun functions for spoon, bowl, cone, freezer, scooper, etc.

More Therapy Ideas for Using Toys in Play-Based Therapy 

When all the assessments and meetings are due at various times during the school year, your creativity always seems to deplete in planning therapy. So, if you need some new inspirational therapy ideas for some of your student’s favorite toys, here are some blog posts to check out:

Using a Pet Hospital Toy

10 Ways to Use Play Food in Therapy

Trains to Target Speech and Language Goals

Using a farm toy in speech therapy

How Do You Use an Ice Cream Toy Set in Speech Therapy?

 

Do you have a fun way to engage your students with an ice cream toy set in speech therapy? Share in the comments, tag me on Instagram @thedabblingspeechie, or email me at feliceclark@thedabblingspeechie.com.

Toy Trains Speech Therapy – 10 tips for how to use

Toy Trains Speech Therapy – 10 tips for how to use

Young children always seem more likely than not to have a fascination with toy train sets. Maybe Thomas the Tank Engine/Thomas the Train has something to do with it?! They love building train sets and making the trains go around the railroad tracks. You can capitalize on this interest by having your students build and do pretend play, all the while allowing you to work on a variety of different speech and language skills with them. I’m sharing 10 skills you can focus on with toy train sets below, so keep reading to get all of my suggestions!

Where Can I Buy a Toy Train Set for My Speech Room?

 

There are a few different toy train sets available online. One of them is even a Melissa and Doug set, which you know is going to be really well made and high quality! All of the ones I’m suggesting below can be found on Amazon, but you might be able to find them at stores like Target, too. The links below are Amazon affiliate links for your convenience.

Melissa and Doug Take a Long Railroad (This one is great for SLPs who don’t want to assemble a railroad.)

On Track USA Figure 8 Wooden Train Set

Cute Stones Wooden Train Set

Toy Train speech therapy ideas for play-based therapy.

Play-Based Speech Therapy Information

If you are wondering about how to implement play-based therapy in your sessions, check out this blog post for some tips.

Often times in my sessions, I will do a mix of direct structured therapy using a toy and then will allow time for a natural play-based activity time with the toy. This helps me get those direct trials in for certain goals and then allows me to take the child’s lead with the natural play-based time. 

Toy trains are a favorite toy for many of my students, so planning therapy around motivating toys keeps students engaged in therapy. Check out 10 ways you can use a toy train set in therapy.

How to use toy trains in speech therapy

10 Ways to Use a Toy Train in Speech Therapy

10 ways to use a toy train set in speech therapy

1. Teach cause and effect by knocking the train off the track, crashing into something, stopping all of the sudden, letting go of the train to go down the hill, etc. Work on comments about what happened, joint attention, and requests to do it again.

2. Work on sequencing with first, next, and last, or tell a story with the child’s actions and then work on re-telling the sequence. Sequence the steps for a train picking up and dropping off the passengers.

3. Have the students make deliveries with the train. The students describe the items they delivered by attributes. You can also give clues to work on inferencing.

4. Work on mean length utterance and grammar structures for plural tense, present progressive, third person singular, past tense, adjectives, and prepositional phrases.

5. Work on following directions with basic concepts and prepositions. You can teach basic concepts of up/down when going up a hill on the track. Other basic concepts you can target are around, on/off, and over/under while the child has the train go over or under a bridge.

6. Use the train to work on slow/fast speech for fluency. Have the train get stuck to demonstrate blocks with stuttering.

7. Use the train to help increase articulation or phonology productions. Lay the train sideways and put cotton balls above the train as “smoke” for each production. Take the cotton balls off one by one for more productions.

8. Build a train track. Place mini trinkets or flashcards along the track. Have the train stop at each item to practice, answer a wh- question, describe, use in a sentence, etc.

9. Follow the group’s plan and flexibility with changing the social routine or play routine. One person is the conductor, and all the cabs have to follow the head train.

10. Facilitate pretend play for getting on a train, paying for a ticket, collecting the tickets, and arriving at the destination.

If you want all these ideas handy as you implement play-based therapy, you can add my toy companion cheat sheets for 18 different toys to use in therapy. There is a Spanish and English version. Many SLPs use the resource in therapy to coach staff and parents how to work on skills while playing with toys.

Easy ideas for using a toy train in speech therapy for the busy SLP

How Do You Use a Toy Train Set in Speech Therapy?

 

Do you have a fun way to engage your students with a toy train set in speech therapy? Share in the comments, tag me on Instagram @thedabblingspeechie, or email me at feliceclark@thedabblingspeechie.com.

 

More Toy Speech Therapy Idea Blog Posts

Using toys in speech therapy can be a great way to plan for different goals and help keep your students engaged. Here are more blog posts on how you can use different toys to target lots of goals in therapy:

How to Use a Farm Toy in Speech Therapy

10 Ways to Use Play Food in Speech Therapy

10 Ways to Use a Pet Vet Hospital in Speech Therapy

10 Ways to Use Play Food in Speech Therapy

10 Ways to Use Play Food in Speech Therapy

What’s more fun to young kids than playing with toy food items? They love using play food to engage in activities like playing house. Harness that interest for your speech therapy sessions! This is why toy food sets can be so engaging for our speech students! These play food items allow students to interact with you and do pretend play, all the while allowing you to work on a variety of different speech and language skills with them. I’m sharing 10 skills you can focus on with toy foods below, so keep reading to get all of my suggestions!

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

Where Can I Buy Play Food for My Speech Room?

There are a few different play food options available online. One of them is even from Melissa and Doug, so you don’t have to worry about the quality of those items! All of the ones I’m suggesting below can be found on Amazon, but you might be able to find them at stores like Target, too. The links below are Amazon affiliate links for your convenience.

Melissa & Doug Food Groups

Pantry in a Bucket by Play Circle Battat (This is a good deal!)

New Sprouts Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner by Learning Resources

 

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

Build Vocabulary While Using Play Food in Speech Therapy

You can use play food to compare and contrast items by attribute features. While you are playing with the food, you can discuss the different category groups for food items, function, size, shape, color, where you buy/store it, what meals you use the food for, parts and textures. I love using my visual sentence frames to help my students explain similarities and differences between foods. 

For your students not ready to work expressively with comparing and contrasting, have your students “sort” food into different groups. For example, you can sort chewy vs. crunchy foods, hot vs. cold, sweet vs. sour foods.

Being able to see and touch the play food while doing this language activity makes it engaging for your students too!

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

How to Use Play Food in Speech Therapy

A toy food set can be used to target so many speech and language skills! Listed below are some of my favorite ways to engage children in these skills:

  1. Have one student prepare a meal for another student. One student can practice his/her articulation, vocabulary, grammar while telling the student what to do to prepare the meal.
  2. Sequence the steps for setting a table, cleaning the kitchen, shopping at the grocery store, or making a meal. Sequence how to make a hamburger, sandwich, cake, etc.
  3. Following directions and basic concepts with the food and utensils.
  4. Sort food by sub-categories: desserts, fruit, vegetables, breakfast, dinner, meat, etc. Then, describe the food by attributes (size, shape, colors, parts, texture, etc.)
  5. Work on “who” and “where” questions. Give different food items to students and ask, “Who has a brownie?”
  6. Asking and answering wh-questions while playing with the food.
  7. Play pretend restaurant to work on social skills, articulation carryover, and language.
  8. Plan a dinner party or birthday party.
  9. Practice manners while eating.
  10. Work on inferencing by giving the kids clues about the food item and they have to guess the food.

Need a cheat sheet guide to help you with targeting wh- questions, Tier II vocabulary, articulation, basic concepts, adjectives, and helpful therapy ideas for toys you use during play-based therapy? Grab this Toy Companion Cheat Sheet Guide for Pre-K to 2nd grade and have stimulus targets mapped out for fourteen different toys.

Share How You Use Play Food Toy Set

Do you have a fun way to engage your students with play food in speech therapy? Share in the comments, tag me on Instagram @thedabblingspeechie, or email me at feliceclark@thedabblingspeechie.com.

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