Valentine's Day is a wonderful time to celebrate friendship and appreciation at the school level, and speech-language therapy is a wonderful way to incorporate these themes using fun and engaging activities.
Crafts are my absolute favorite way to keep students focused and occupied while also integrating speech and language elements. This is also my favorite time of year to target social skills with many of my ASD students. Read below to get some ideas to help with lesson planning for this special holiday:
Preschool age: As always, keeping younger children active and engaged is the key to a successful therapy session. Have your younger students hide hearts and cupids around the room to target following directions with prepositions. Do you have red, pink, and white construction paper? Have them trace, cut, and glue hearts so they can also work on their emerging fine motor skills. If you want to make this task more difficult, draw the letter sound or a picture with their target sound on each heart so they may take it home and practice. Play-Doha is also an easy and effective way to target language skills. Using Valentine’s Day themed colors, have students roll heart shapes while also targeting describing, following directions, increasing utterance length, requesting, etc.
Grades K-2: At this age group, students are becoming more social and developing friendships. I love targeting a theme of friendship with this age group by having students write cards for a few of their best friends. Have the students come up with one word to describe each of their friends that they can write on a personalized card. This activity targets vocabulary, emerging written language skills, interpersonal/social relationships, and comprehension. If you have articulation/phonology students on your caseload, I like making quick heart shaped cut outs that I then cut into two pieces – one piece with a beginning, final, or general target sound and the other portion with the remaining word. Have students match them up while practicing their target sounds.
Grades 3+: At this age, students are developing deeper friendships and becoming more cognizant of their likes and dislikes with others and within social groups. I love targeting figurative language with conversation hearts, especially with my ASD students. I then use conversation hearts in a similar way as Rory’s Story Cubes – I give each student 10 hearts and they then have to create a written story using the words on their hearts and a graphic organizer. This is a great activity to target written language skills, especially as the writing requirements become more demanding with this age group.
I know every SLP at this time of year dreads hearing the infamous “Happy Valentine's Day” from many of their well-intentioned students, but with a bit of creativity and planning, your students will reap the benefits of speech and language incorporation using simple and engaging activities.