Using themes in speech therapy is one of my favorite ways to keep students engaged and vary the types of activities we use each session! From holidays to seasons, there is an abundance of resources out there to change up the daily therapy tasks. Although cute graphics and fun games may be implemented with these themes, we as therapists must not stray from the evidence guiding our WHY!
Benefits of themed therapy (Hadley et al., 2018):
Provides a foundation that promotes generalization outside the therapy room
Improves vocabulary and helps children gain an understanding of semantic relations between words such as causal or spatial relations.
Helps children make connections between various concepts. Even those not directly targeted in therapy.
Having this knowledge of various themes and categories, children can better make inferences and predictions about situations they encounter on a daily basis.
Provides a meaningful and motivating method of learning new concepts.
Teaching words linked in taxonomic and thematic groups allows for a deeper understanding of functions, categories, and features.
My favorite way to implement themed therapy is through a multiple senses approach. For the theme of St. Patrick’s Day, I would choose a variety of activities that are connected by the same overall theme. For example, we might start the session by reading a book about leprechauns. Then we might use a sensory bin filled with grass, clovers, gold coins, and other green objects to find cards containing target speech sounds or synonyms (depending on the students’ goals). Another group may start with a video and then move to a gross motor activity of tossing a bean bag into the pot of gold. Active involvement is one of the most necessary components of providing evidence-based thematic instruction (Fisher, 1991).
St. Patrick’s Themed Activities for Speech
I often like to begin my therapy sessions with a book. There are some great books with the St. Patrick’s Day theme! Here are some of my favorites:
The Night Before St. Patrick’s Day- Natasha Wing
There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Clover- Lucille Colandro
How to Build a Leprechaun Trap- Larissa Juliano
Ten Lucky Leprechauns- Deborah Hembrook
Pete the Cat the Great Leprechaun Chase- James Dean
While reading the book, I may do some activities to target their goals. We might work on target sounds that we find embedded in the story, work on sequencing events, predicting, labeling objects, etc. After reading, I like to do a hands-on activity. Some of my favorite low-prep activities are from Teachers Pay Teachers.
St. Patrick’s Day Speech Therapy Activities- Fun In Speech (Teachers Pay Teachers)
This bundle has awesome activities that are GREAT for mixed groups! This way, all students can participate in the same exact task. From smash mats to clover and rainbow crafts, these are a hit!
Themed therapy is so much fun for the students and makes lesson planning easier for the SLPs!
Author: Camryn Hess, M.S., CCC-SLP
Hadley, E. B., Dickinson, D. K., Hirsch-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. M. (2018). Building semantic networks: The impact of vocabulary intervention on preschoolers’ depth of word knowledge. Reading Research Quarterly.