Speech therapy sessions are often a balancing act between maximizing drill and maintaining interest. I’m all for fun and games…..as long as it doesn’t take time away from the work at hand. Here are some ways I have found to keep kiddos motivated while working them as hard as I can in each therapy session. These ideas are quick, cheap, and work for mixed groups. And, as an added bonus, the games themselves provide speech practice when you customize to use a sentence after each turn that rehearses a target speech sound or grammar form! For each game, use whatever therapy stimulus materials you want — cards, worksheets, etc. I usually require 3-5 repetitions of a word or an imitated or self-generated sentence for each turn.
Broken Hearts for Valentine’s Day
You’ll need a medium-sized gift bag (preferably red, pink, or with hearts) and a package of 50 assorted 1″-2″ heart foam shapes, available at any craft store. With a Sharpie marker, draw a crack on about 25% of the hearts; these are the “broken hearts.” Mix them up in the bag. After a student performs his speech/language task, he/she reaches into the bag — no peeking! — and pulls out one heart. If the heart is whole, the student keeps it. If the heart is broken, it goes back in the bag. The student with the most hearts at the end of the game wins. CUSTOMIZE for additional therapy practice by having the students use sentences at each turn that reinforce their target sound or grammar. Examples: My heart is broken/whole. I have a broken/whole heart. His/Her heart is broken/whole. Is your heart broken?
Good Luck / Bad Luck Shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day
You’ll need a medium-sized gift bag (preferably green or with shamrocks) and about 50 assorted foam or small eraser shamrocks (from Oriental Trading or craft stores). With a Sharpie marker, put a black X about 25% of the shamrocks black; those are the “bad luck” shamrocks. Play the game as described above for Broken Hearts. CUSTOMIZE for additional therapy practice with sentences after each turn. Examples: I have good/bad luck. My shamrock brings good/bad luck. I picked a good/bad clover. I/You can keep it/Put it back. Did you get good luck? To limit the tendency to play with the pieces they’ve collected, I give each child a small plastic pot (shaped like a witch’s cauldron or, for this game, a leprechaun’s pot of gold) to keep their shamrocks in.
Rotten Eggs for Easter
I’m sure you can see where this is going….. You’ll need a medium-sized gift bag or deep basket (so the kiddos can’t see in) and about 50 assorted 1″-2″ foam egg shapes, available at any craft store. With a Sharpie marker, put a black X on about 25% of the eggs; these are the “rotten eggs.” Play the game as described above for Broken Hearts. CUSTOMIZE for additional therapy practice with sentences after each turn that contain their target sound or grammar form. To limit playing with the collected eggs, I give each child a small basket.
Additional seasonal theme games–
Scary Pumpkins for Halloween — draw scary jack o’lanterns on 25% of foam pumpkin shapes.
Cooked Turkeys for Thanksgiving — draw an X on 25% of foam turkey shapes
Cracked Ornaments — draw cracks on 25% of foam holiday ornaments
For any time of year–
The Stick Game is a huge favorite. I got this one years ago from a post on my website, and modified it a bit. You’ll need a bunch of colored popsicle sticks (from the dollar store or craft store) and a container (the orange contained from powdered Gatorade is perfect). With a Sharpie marker, draw a star on one end of about 10% of the sticks. Write a “2” on one end of another 10% of the sticks. Put all of the sticks together, marked sides down, in the container. After each student performs his/her therapy task, the student will select one stick. If there is nothing it on it, the student keeps the stick. If the stick has a star on it, the student has to put that stick plus one more back in the container (star side down). If the stick has a 2 on it, the student can pick another stick from the container. The student with the most sticks wins. CUSTOMIZE with sentences after each turn. Examples: I picked a 2. I can pick another stick. No star! My stick is safe. I got a star. Put two back.