Winter is fast approaching, and there are great activities you can do to bring the winter wonder into your speech therapy plans. When I work with specialized instruction classes, such as preschool, autism, and mild/moderate/significant impairment classes, I like to use an in-class, or integrated, delivery model. This can be done by leading a whole-class lesson/activity or doing a center during classroom rotations. Below I describe a few of the activities I use that are relatively easy to prepare and can be modified to fit a variety of goals.
- Using a sensory bin is always a big hit with students. Just make sure everyone washes their hands before digging in! For the winter, fill your bin up with “snow,” like cotton balls, and the possibilities are endless. Add articulation cards, winter-themed objects, comprehension questions from a winter-themed book, or pictures/cards for any other skill you are targeting. The students can take turns digging in the “snow” to find an object or card to talk about.
- My students love using stickers. Print out or draw a picture of a Christmas tree, candy cane, or snowman and find some fun holiday or winter stickers. Students can practice spatial concepts or following directions with the stickers. For example, to target spatial concepts, draw a picture of a Christmas tree, give the student a sticker of a snowflake, and say “Put the snowflake under the tree.” This activity also can be used to target articulation goals if your stickers have the target sound or you use a carrier phrase with the target sound. For example, if the student is working on /k/, draw or print a picture of a candy cane and use the carrier phrase “the ___ is on the candy cane.” Have the student say the phrase each time they add a sticker. More stickers will lead to more repetitions of the target sound, and more fun for the student! Then, send it home for extra practice.
- Sneezy the Snowman by Maureen Wright is one of my favorite winter books. I print a big snowman head, attach it to a container, and cut out the mouth. Students can “feed” the snowman and work on utterance expansion by saying “Sneezy eats ___”. This book is also great for working on categorizing vocabulary. Students can sort hot and cold items and winter and non-winter clothing. In addition, students can sequence the events in the story, answer “wh” questions, and learn about cause and effect.
- It’s always good to get up and get moving during speech when you can. Charades is a fun way to work on verbs and vocabulary. Ice skating, shoveling snow, making snow angels, and throwing snowballs are just a few of the fun winter actions that can be targeted. I write each action on a small card or have pictures of the different activities. You can have the students pick a card (or put them in a sensory bin!). Then the student can act out the activity for others to guess. The students who are guessing can work on expressive language and answering questions (What is Billy doing?) as the student is performing the action.
I hope I have given you some ideas you can use in your therapy plans. Winter and the holidays go by quickly, so try to squeeze in as much fun as you can while also providing effective speech therapy.
Author: Mary Lowery, M.S. CCC-SLP