As a school-based speech-language pathologist (SLP), you want to provide your students with the best resources possible to help them improve their communication abilities. At Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS) we’ve developed activities to do just that, backed by our decades of experience as school-based therapists.
Check out some of our top therapist- and student-approved activities here. Be sure to drill all activities with 60+ correct trials per session and keep time spent on rewards and games minimized as much as possible.
If you want to put them into action with the help of an experienced team of clinical directors and school based SLPs, contact PTS to find out how we can help today!
Note that all activities are adaptable based on student needs, so they need to be individualized for the student.
1. Speech Helpers
This is a fun articulation activity that’s ideal for students who are new to therapy. Simply provide students with an overview of the parts of their body that they use to produce speech, including:
- Voice box
Use a mirror so that students can practice identifying all their speech helpers. You can also have students draw or glue their speech helpers into a model as you discuss the function of each body part as it relates to speech. This gives students a good understanding of how all the parts of their body work together to help them produce speech sounds.
2. Auditory Discrimination
Auditory discrimination exercises are also good for students who are early on in therapy and first learning about their sounds. They help students establish an initial awareness of target sounds. A few exercises you can use include:
- Provide students with two words (i.e. “Pen” and “Sun”) and have them identify the word that starts with the /s/ sound—or any other target sound they’re working on.
- Ask students to sort words according to their beginning sounds.
- Instruct students to raise their hand when they hear a particular sound as you say a list of words.
3. Dice Games
Dice games offer many opportunities for students to practice articulation. Some of our favorite dice games for articulation include:
- Have the student roll the dice. The number they role indicates how many times they need to produce the target sound. If they successfully complete the exercise, they also win the same number of points as the number they rolled. The student with the most points at the end of the game wins.
We recommend having students roll the dice inside a box or using virtual dice on a smartphone or tablet app. This saves you time spent chasing after dice after every roll.
4. Articulation-Based Crafts
Building an articulation-based craft is a great way to get students to practice their articulation skills while also expressing themselves creatively. Plus, it offers a finished product at the end of the exercise that they can take home.
Cut out pieces of a paper craft ahead of time. Each time the student successfully produces the target sounds five times, give them a piece of the craft. As an extra treat at the end, students can color in their craft and make it their own.
5. Themed Activities
Make learning even more fun by basing your therapy activity on a special theme. If a student has a special event that’s coming up (like a birthday), consider using a balloon-themed smash board.
Draw the same number of balloons on a piece of paper as the student’s age. Cover the balloons with different color Play-Doh or colored clay. Every time the student successfully produces the target sound, they get to smash the Play-Doh to create a colorful piece of art. Have the art laminated if they want to take it home.
You can also theme other activities after the student’s favorite TV show or favorite animal.
6. Card Games for Learning Articulation
Classic card games that we all know and love can get an SLP makeover! Go Fish is one that students tend to enjoy. Print out duplicate cards with target sounds on them. When students ask for a particular card, they must properly produce the target sound. You can do something similar with games like Uno, Slap Jack, and matching games.
For matching games, place a board of cards out on the table, face-down. Have students turn over cards two at a time and produce the sounds on those cards. Ask if they’re matching sounds. If they match, the student can remove the cards. If they don’t, they’re turned over again, and the game continues until the student can find matching cards.
7. Number and Counting Games
Number and counting games are a simple, yet effective way to incorporate math skills into therapy, while also giving your students many opportunities to practice target sounds. Here’s how it works:
- Create a points card with different math prompts on it
- Have your student say their target sound 5 to 10 times
- If they successfully produce the target sound, they can do the math activity on their points card to get their points
- The student with the most points at the end wins
The game aspect of this activity makes it fun for kids, without taking time away from practicing their target sounds.
8. Literacy Activities
Now that we’ve practiced math, let’s practice literacy! Use books in therapy sessions to help students practice target sounds. You can even adapt books from the students’ classroom and break down words on the page to practice single words or syllables in isolation.
This allows them to incorporate the classroom curriculum into their therapy sessions to create a sense of cohesion between their pull-out sessions and their time in the general education classroom.
9. Conversational Activities
Conversational activities allow students to engage in conversation to practice at the highest level of articulation. Do activities like Would You Rather to have students practice the /r/ sound in conversation. It also gives them an opportunity to practice expressing their likes and dislikes.
You can also try a story-telling game. To get students excited about the exercise, have them tell you about their family, morning or nighttime routines, favorite television shows, and more.
10. Self-Monitoring Activities
Self-monitoring their own speech is an important step toward articulation mastery. Have students track their speech on a self-monitoring sheet to track their own progress. Students can rate their own speech based on an appropriate scale, for example:
1. I need more work.
2. I’m almost there.
3. I got it!
At times, it can be difficult for students to monitor their own speech. They can learn to identify correct or incorrect productions of a specific sound by listening to you speak, or by listening to a recording. Then, instruct them to apply these same concepts to their own speech.
Help Students Improve their Speech with other Caring SLPs at PTS
By incorporating these activities into your therapy sessions, you can help students practice articulation while also having fun.
At PTS, we have years of experience designing and implementing activities for articulation that you can use in therapy sessions and in the classroom. We also provide our therapists with regular, ongoing support from our expert team of Clinical Directors.
If you want to work with local schools as part of a caring team, contact PTS to join us as an SLP today!