Monolingual and Bilingual Winter Speech Activities

  • December 15, 2021
  • Bilingual Therapies

As you get into the thick of the winter season, you may start to feel like you need a refresher on Winter Therapy Activities. I mean you do have that one activity you use every year. Right? But it’s leaving you a little blah, so let’s hit the reset button and toss out digging up old winter themed speech and language activities. Better yet, dig them up but revamp them using the theme of music. You can always take an oldie but goodie and bring it back to life. After all, you have progress to make in your individualized therapy sessions and there may not be too much time.

Using Music as a Speech Activity

Research has shown that listening to music helps build strong music-related connections to language. It helps build vocabulary and retain words. It too helps with pronunciation and connects to feelings that later help convey meaningful messages within us and with one another. Music is a great way for students and clinicians to become reenergized.  Whether it’s articulation, receptive-expressive language, auditory comprehension or executive function tasks, music can be just the thing to spruce up interest levels and add an extra layer of excitement. Take your pick from the activities below. Modify them or use them as they are. We have included a few non-musical activities, as well.

Speech Activities for Elementary School Levels

For lower-elementary grade levels, finger plays, nursery rhymes or holiday songs can be used to engage your students. You can target articulation goals or receptive-expressive language goals, as well as vocabulary. The reference below has some great ideas to target concepts, verbs, and various vocabulary. The author of this activity includes a free downloadable set of colored mittens to follow the song and a visual board for use with the body parts portion of the song.

The Mitten Song is simple and easy. You can have your students make their own mittens or ask your colleagues for various colored mittens to make it more tactile. While it can build vocabulary, it can also simultaneously give your students a fun way to practice their speech sounds. E.g., Did you hear that /t/? That’s your sound! What other word has the letter [t] in it?  This way you can target initial, medial, or final word positions.

Not sure if the song you chose is appropriate? Reference this link to our blog on selecting culturally appropriate books but keep in mind it’s for songs.

Speech Activities for Middle School Levels

For upper-elementary grade levels and middle schoolers, songs with a catchy chorus promote use of their executive function skills, automatically. You can get them to use their working memory and emotion control by anticipating the lyrics, as well as planning and organization. It truly is a win-win. You are allowing them to learn new skills while enjoying a new fun activity.

Have them vote to pick their favorite winter song or a bilingual song for your bilingual students. This way not only are you including them in the decision-making process, but you are also getting automatic participation from them simply by engaging them in something different. A favorite is Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

A non-musical winter activity could also include a wordless picture book. Have your students come up with their own narrative or perhaps give them a specific goal from their list of objectives to use with this wordless picture book.

Speech Activity Ideas for High Schoolers

For high schoolers, in your week-to-week therapy activities, conveying the importance of “language” can become a bit tiresome. Whether it be pragmatic language or receptive-expressive language, any or all therapy activities can come off as a bit repetitive to your high school students. Which is why music may be just the ingredient you need to reengage them.

Music can be seen as an art form of words. Your high school students may even be left a little surprised on how songs connect to meaning, messages, tone, intonation etc. By talking about the constructs of pragmatic language in a way that they can relate and understand it [music], you start to teach the importance of words and their delivery. They start paying attention to the words and their messages. You may even encourage them to target their own goals by way of music.

For example, have them read their yearly goals and ask them, “which one of your goals can we work on by using music?” Again, you don’t have to use winter songs. They can be mainstream [appropriate] songs. Either way, you should try to choose together. You could also have your student pick out a line or phrase from a song and have them break it down for you. By analyzing grammaticality and by focusing on semantics or syntax, you can highlight how a word – written a certain way -can add or change meaning to words and phrases.

Conclusion

Any of the above activities may be used to target a variety of speech and language goals. There is always flexibility to adjust for specificity. Share your students’ work with a note to a parent or go the extra mile and contact the parent to let them know just how their child is progressing and how they can carry over at home. And as always, for your multilingual families, include translations or instructions for any carry-over activities to be completed at home.

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