Pumpkins, old ladies, and turkeys, oh my! Fall is full of fun activities for you to bring into your speech therapy room. I love to put away my games and card decks and pull out a seasonal book. I’ve found that using books can be just as engaging to my students and books are great for mixed therapy groups. Hint: if you don’t own a copy of the book you want to use, you can almost always find a read aloud on YouTube or borrow it from your local or school library.
No matter the book, I have my students who are working on articulation listen for their target sound. They can make a list as they listen and, if you are feeling fancy, sort the words by phoneme position (initial, medial, final). By the end of the book, they should have a nice list of words to take home for extra practice. Students working at the sentence or conversation level can answer questions about the book or retell the story using their correct sound productions.
These are some of my favorite books to use in October and November. As with most books, there are always opportunities to target “wh” questions, synonyms/antonyms, and retelling/summarizing. Below I’ve described some of the other ways I use these books.
Little Blue Truck’s Halloween by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry: Farm animals dressed up for Halloween make this a fun lift-the-flap book that the little kids (and some big kids!) love. When they lift the flap, they can practice core words like “open, up, go, look”. This book contains tons of rhyming words. In addition, your students can practice making inferences by guessing the animal wearing the costume. Have your students draw their own costume on an animal and describe it for their friends to guess.
There was an Old Lady who Swallowed Some Leaves! by Lucille Collandro and Jared Lee: This lady pops up a lot in my room throughout the year. She is especially busy during the fall, because there are other books where she swallows a bat, a pie, and a turkey. Pick one of the books and you are set! It’s perfect for teaching seasonal thematic vocabulary, sequencing what she eats, and practicing the core word “eat” with a lot of repetitions.
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda D. Williams and Megan Lloyd: Here’s another old lady your students are sure to love. The repetitive lines in this book make it fun for your students to participate in reading it with you. Make it even more exciting by incorporating body movements as you read “clomp clomp, wiggle wiggle, shake shake, clap clap, nod nod.” The body movements give you an opportunity to target following simple directions (“clap your hands”) and complex directions (“before you clap your hands, nod your head”). Like with the previous old lady, you can sequence what the little old lady runs into while on her walk.
Pumpkin Town by Katie McKy and Pablo Bernasconi: Jack-Be-Littles, Happy Jacks, and Big Moons are the pumpkins you’ll read about in this fall-themed book. Before you read it, teach the life cycle of a pumpkin and sequence the steps of growing a pumpkin. As you read the book, there are several opportunities to make predictions. What will happen when the pumpkin seeds blow to the next town? How will the townspeople feel when the pumpkins start to grow? How will the brothers solve the problem? It also ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger, so your students can write or draw what they predict will happen next.
Amelia Bedelia Talks Turkey by Herman Parish and Lynn Sweat: Oh, Amelia! The craziness is never ending with this classic character who is great for older students working on higher-level language skills. Focus on non-literal language, idioms, and multiple meaning words as Amelia helps put on a Thanksgiving pageant.
There are so many great books to choose from as we enjoy the fall season. Whether you are working on articulation or language goals, books are an excellent way to incorporate the season into your therapy plans. Have fun with these, because before you know it, it will be time for winter books!
Author: Mary Lowery, M.S. CCC-SLP