Top 3 Activities for Speech-Language Pathologists
Continuing to create new and exciting speech therapy activities for students can be a bit of a challenge. We’ve put together this resource to give you a few new ideas to keep you inspired. Replicate these activities in your school setting or use them as inspiration to come up with some new activity ideas.
The therapeutic benefits of slime can be applied to both Speech-Language Pathologists as well as Occupational Therapists. It serves as a creative way for children to practice therapeutic skills, learn about science, and have fun while doing it. Students are often more engaged when sessions include something with a sensory component.
There are many different slime recipes available online these days. Be careful and avoid ones which include borax, because it can irritate the skin. The easiest slime to make requires two easy to find ingredients. All you need is glue (white or any of the gel squeeze bottles) and a bottle of liquid starch. Liquid starch is often located in supermarkets with laundry products. The only other items you will need to make a simple slime are a container to mix it in and something to do the mixing. Other options to add to the slime include food coloring, glitter, and other similar items for interest.
Get the kids involved in the process. Let them get their hands in the slime to help and determine if it is done. Talk through the process. What happens when the liquid starch is added? How does this change how the glue feels? This is a great activity for kids to work on their hand muscles during occupational therapy.
The best part of slime is it can be used in a wide variety of activities. Once made, the slime can be the topic of a conversation for speech and language. You can make up a game to use the slime with running, skipping, hopping, or other gross motor activities. Hiding things into the slime makes a fun way to work on fine motor skills. Slime is also perfect to help kids relax and ease their anxieties. Keeping slime in a container as a stress reliever is another option.
If you decide not to make it with children, but want to use it as a hands-on learning tool, here are 4 slime therapy activity suggestions to incorporate within a speech-language lesson – bonus fine motor activity:
I Spy the Slime
Slime is great to hide items within it. If you have small objects from sounds that you are working on, you can work them into the slime. Then, as they are located, the word can be said and used in a sentence. You can also use coins, buttons, mini letters, sequins, and beads for this purpose. Each time the child is looking for something, you can have them repeat a key phrase that works on one of their goals. The repetition and fun will make them eager to keep going to see what else is hidden within the slime.
Slime Shape Activity
The slime also is great for creating different shapes. Take turns in a group creating something with the slime (like a snake, letter, or shape) and modeling the steps needed for everyone to do this. Another opportunity during this activity is to have the child use descriptive words of how the slime feels. This activity practices sequences, informative language skills, and building confidence.
Bouncing Slime Game
Once made, the slime can bounce. It can be used to bounce to sounds, count syllables when saying words, or help to bounce on a group of cards when playing a game. Think outside of the box on how to incorporate this into previous plans to make something a bit more interactive or fresh.
Practice Core Vocabulary Words
Choose core words to target using slime therapy. For example, practice More/Want when the child requests additional slime to play with. Give them small amounts at a time so they can continue practicing “more & want” should they desire more slime. Additionally, have children “put” the slime in different objects such as a cup and/or bowl. Children tend to move around, so this activity is a great way to cultivate a comfortable environment while also helping them to practice core words. A final example is See/Look. Have children explain what they observe about each other’s slime in terms of descriptive words such as color and shape. Have them practice sentences such as “I see____,” or “Look at my ____.”
When you are done using the slime in sessions, allow the kids to take it home in small airtight containers. The slime will last for quite a while and be great for them to share at home. Send home a recipe to share with families because other members may want slime of their own. Be sure to include instructions in additional languages for those who are multilingual and may need it.
Children who struggle with speech and language skills may be intimidated by learning new vocabulary. To assist with this, it’s crucial to be creative and actively engage students. Vocabulary collages are a nice way to do this and it’s flexible to work with many age levels. Collages may also be done in a variety of ways depending on the current skills being worked on for children. Older students may need collages with synonyms of vocabulary words that are being worked on in class. Younger children may be focusing on adding words that have specific start sounds that address articulation goals.
Before you get started, you will need some supplies to use in your sessions. These include construction paper, crayons/markers/colored pencils, scissors, old magazines, and ads from old newspapers. Contact people that you know and send home a note to parents asking them for magazines, toy catalogs, newspapers, ads, and travel brochures that they no longer need. Be sure to look through whatever you gather to make sure that they are appropriate to use with children. Some magazines may have ads that could be pulled out and then used without a problem.
When working on collage activities, it is easy to personalize the focus for the individual student goals. One child may be struggling with science vocabulary and need variations or clues to help them with the meaning. Another child may need to work on using different skills like articulation. Multiple collage pages may be put together to make a book that can be laminated to take home for practice. Some possible vocabulary collage ideas include:
- Items that are a certain color
- Rhyming words
- Pictures of synonyms
- Opposites on the left and right of a page
- Words that all have the same start sound |f| |st| |cl| or whatever the child is working on
As everyone is working on the collages, talk through the process. What steps are they following? Going over this can help work on words used to describe sequencing steps and boost their confidence in talking in groups. Take time to help everyone label items so they will be available when home. It may be helpful to have translations for multilingual learners. Once the collages are finished and everyone has had time to share them, they may be brought home for reinforcement of the skills being addressed. Since they helped to make them, they are more likely to use them when working on speech and language skills.
Song & Movement
Sometimes being a little silly and singing can help kids to be more engaged during speech and language sessions. Kids of all ages like to sing and dance, although older kids may be more reluctant to admit it, so embrace this in sessions from time to time. Music is a great way to incorporate singing and dancing while working on fluency, building confidence levels, and continuing skills practice. There are a variety of familiar songs that you can use or adjust for each child you work with to have maximum results.
Old MacDonald Had a Farm
Songs that allow children to use puppets or other props when singing help to make the process interactive on another level. Old MacDonald Had a Farm is a great starting point. You can talk about farms, animal sounds, and act out being the animals. Before doing this with children, determine if you will make animal finger puppets, stick puppets (they can be laminated clip art on crafting sticks), felt sets, or toys that you can collect. Have several animals like a cow, sheep, horse, pig, chicken, and others. While singing the song as a group, have kids participate and dance around with the items while acting out the song in their way.
The Ants Go Marching
Another song that may not be as familiar works on rhymes within it. The Ants Go Marching could be done in a group while marching along in a circle together. To go from one by one to ten by ten, you will need the following props or work with your group to make up dance moves:
- one – suck a thumb
- two – tie a shoe
- three – climb a tree
- four – shut the door
- five – take a dive
- six – pick up sticks
- seven – go to heaven
- eight – shut the gate
- nine – scratch his spine
- ten – say the end
Remind everyone to be an ant, act out their part, and sing along. If you are ambitious with older children, try to switch out the verses with other rhymes that may work and test them out.
Additional songs like The Wheels on the Bus, The Farmer in the Dell, and If You’re Happy and You Know It are more great options. Chat with families to see if they can share a tune that they sing at home in another language. Use the opportunity to tie in pride for their culture and embracing multilingual learners.