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Carol's Speech and Language Disorders Homepage

Idea Exchange

Speech therapists are among the most creative people I know.   Most of us have had to work at one time or another with little or no materials and come up with the perfect idea to remediate a skill.  This idea exchange is written by YOU!  If you'd like to share an idea that you have found works in therapy, please email me.  I'll add your idea to the page.  Please send me your name and where you are from so I can give you credit.


1. Reward System - This isn't really a therapy idea.  It's just my quick, easy & effective reward system.  I have speech-language tokens which mykids can earn.  There are 16 on a page, and they are just boxesw/ a place for the child's name that say "Speech-Language Token".  I have a separate system for K-3rd graders and 4rth & 5th graders.  The K-3 kids get to sign one token for every time they come & follow the speech rules.  (This rewards kids who are just too young to remember their time, but there is also an incentive for them to remember to come by themselves.)  K-3 kids get to
sign an extra token if they remember to come on their own.  4th & 5th graders don't get to sign a token UNLESS they remember to come.  This really helps to motivate those kids who are capable
of remembering to come.  I make copies of the blank token pages, which I made on EXCEL on my computer (or you could make by hand). Then I 3-hole punch each page and put one token page with each child's work in a 3 ring binder, filed in order of the time and day they come to see me.  For example, I have a Monday & Wednesday book and a Tuesday & Thurday book.  Some kids are Mon, Weds & Thurs, so they have files in both books.  When kids fill up their token page, they get to choose either a prize from my prize book or they get to play a game & bring a friend during
lunch recess.  I have found that this is an awesome, self-sufficient tracking system because kids can visually see how many tokens they have & how many they have left to sign before
earning a prize.  Also, I have found that it eliminates arguments over whether a child forgot to mark a star on a chart or whatever because I write the date right on the token.  I don't have to do any counting or keeping track of stars or stickers.  Next month I am also starting something called "Speech & Language Club Stars" whereby kids who have earned one token sheet this semester will
have the opportunity to bring a friend to speech (okayed by the teachers) & play a game.  I believe this will be a positive reinforcement for being pulled out of the classroom and help kids to think of speech-language therapy as more of something fun to do.  Plus, through word of mouth, it will help to lessen the uncertainty of classmates of what happens at speech-language
time. (Suzie Murphy, CCC-SLP, Kennewick, Washington.)

2. Computer-based therapy for preschoolers - Here's an idea for therapy that I use with preschoolers but it could be adapted for any age group.:  I really enjoy using a computer, and if I'm interested in the
activity, it's easier to keep my young clients interested, too.  I use preschool-level software such as the Edmark series (Bailey's Bookhouse et al.), Broderbrund,  interactive stories, Thinking Things - there
are lots) as a context for speech, language and fluency work.   For example, I have several children on my caseload at the moment who are working on expanding their knowledge of prepositions. Bailey's Bookhouse has anactivity wherein the child can, by clicking on a word, place a character in, on,  over,  behind, under (etc) a doghouse.  I provide hand-over-hand assistance as needed so the child is successful using the mouse to make things happen.We spend several minutes on this, then move on to something else before boredom can set in.  I've found this to be a very effective reinforcement of more hands-on activities, such as hiding objects around the room, then finding them and describing the location ("It's under the table!").  My kids love it and can't wait for their turn.  It also exposes them to the printed words, and some of my four-year-olds are learning to recognize the prepositions in writing.  Of course, they are also learning computer skills at the same time.  Hope you find this useful.
(Nancy Worthen, CCC-SLP, Albuquerque, New Mexico)


1. Sound Walk - (For elementary school children).  On one of first days of a working on a new sound, I take my students on a sound walk.  We hunt for objects and people that have their new sound in them.  I take along a clipboard and a paper and pencil so that I can be the secretary.  I divide the paper into three columns:  one for initial position, one for medial position words, and one for the final position.  We may visit the nurse's office, main office, cafeteria, and on nice days, the playground to hunt for words that have the target sound.  When we are finished, I make copies of the lists for them to put in their speech books.  They can follow up by doing a similar sound walk at home with their parents. (Carol Casserly, Newton, NJ)

2. Guest Readers - (For elementary school children).  When my students are working at the reading level in articulation therapy, they choose a book that would be suitable for reading to the kindergarten class.  Once they can read the book without any articulation mistakes, we arrange for the student to go into the kindergarten to read their book.  We have 4 kindergarten classes, so the student gets to choose which teacher he would like to visit.  They usually pick their old teacher.  I accompany the student into the class so that I can observe how well he uses the sound under pressure.  We then go back to the speech room to debrief.  The students love reading to the younger children and their former teachers enjoy hearing their former students read using good speech. (Carol Casserly, Newton, NJ)

3. Preschool Therapy - This is something that I like to do with preschoolers.  It's not really
creative, but it does hold their attention.  I use a piece of colored construction paper, and I cut out a letter, say "H" for example.  Then I have the kiddo paste the "h" onto the piece of paper & color a picture of an "h" word, say "hippopatamus" from a coloring book.  Meanwhile I read words that start with the letter "h".  Then I use pictures from Webber's Jumbo Artic book and have the kid listen to me say words that start w/ "h" and words that don't start w/ "h".  I ask the kid, "Hhhh at, hat - does this word have your air sound in it?  You say it.  Do you feel your air sound?". Here's another example, "Sale - does this word have your air sound in it?".  Then the kid pastes the "h" pictures onto the paper w/ the letter "h" on it.  After the paper is filled up, I have the child say the words for me using his good air sound.  Then the kid takes the project home.  It's a nice activity that targets discrimination and production at the same time, as well as targeting phonological awareness.  It also
allows parents to see exactly what their child is working on and gives them words to practice at home. (Suzie Murphy, CCC-SLP, Kennewick, Washington)

Oral Motor

13 Oral Motor Activities
1. Take a piece of plexus glass, cut it into a square foot. Draw a face on it with Cheese Spread that comes in a can (i.e., from Nabisco). Hold it up to the child?s face, about an inch from the mouth. Have the child use his tongue to lick off the cheese spread. You can also use thick chocolate syrup, strawberry, or caramel.
***You can also do a language lesson and have them tell you what body parts they want you to draw on the plexus glass. Or you can do shapes, objects, etc. Use Fruit O?s (Fruit Loops, Cheerios, Apple Jacks, etc.) or chocolate chips as the eyes, hair, etc.

2. Take a regular or mini pretzel, hold it an inch or so from their mouth and have the child practice pushing their tongue through the grooves, making sure that the pretzel stays far enough away from their mouth so they really have to work on protruding their tongue. You can also use peanut butter or marshmallow fluff, spreading it over the holes (this gives them a better target to hit).

3. Take a straw, put marshmallow fluff on it (or the Nabisco cheese spread from the aerosol can), and have the child lick the tiny spots off that you put on.
***Try to keep the straw at least an inch away from their mouth, so that they are forced to use their tongues instead of their lips.

4. Put cheese spread or Marshmallow Fluff around the middle of a 4 oz. plastic cup. have the child hold the cup as to not get their fingers in the Fluff, stressing protruding of the tongue.

5. Put marshmallow FLuff on a tongue depressor. Add a chocolate chip on the end (or a small gummy bear, nonpareil, or other small yummy object). Place the tongue depressor 1 - 1 1/2? away from the child?s mouth to lick or push the object off the tongue depressor.

6. Take a regular or sugar ice cream cone. Smear the sides of it with chocolate or strawberry syrup. Have the child lick it off, stressing that they are NOT to use their lips, feeling the different textures of the grooves.

7. Cut a large marshmallow in half. Put the sticky side of the marshmallow on the upper or lower lip. (You can also use extra Fluff to keep the marshmallow to stick on the lips/chin). Use the tongue to push off the marshmallow.

8. Take some room temperature Apple Sauce. Put about 4oz. into a plastic cup. Use straws of various lengths and widths. Starts with the regular clear straws and demonstrate how you can suck up the applesauce through the straw. Gradually shift to thinner straws, and if they really catch on fast have them use a silly straw with all the curves. Have the students race to see who can empty their cup first.

9. Mix rice crispies with Marshmallow Fluff. Put it directly on the lower lip. Direct the child to lick it off. You can also put the mixture on the tip of a straw and hold it below their tongue or above it.

10. Take a piece of cooked sphaghetti, or a piece of Twizzler?s Pull-A-Part, or any stringy candy and dip it in warm water to get it wet. Demonstrate to the students how to ?slurp? it up like in the movie ?Lady and the Tramp?, without touching the food item with your hands. You may have to start out with smaller strands of food at first if the child does not get good lip closure or has poor breath control.

11. A good resistance exercise: Put some jelly Fruit O?s or Fruit Loops on a 12? piece of fish line. Direct the child to close their lips to feel the texture and also taste it. Alternate activity: Put ten Fruit Loops on the fish line. Show the students how you can push individual pieces of cereal across the fish line to the other side (about 8?). ***When you do this activity, hold the string approximately an inch or some from the mouth, telling the child to sit back against the back of his chair.

12. Take a frozen Q-tip with Fruit Juice on it. Place it at the back bottom of the tongue and have the child try to depress their tongue and also say the sound at the same time. Good exercise to say the /ch/ sound.

13. Take one of the candy filled straws (pixie sticks), open one end, and sprinkle some of the sugar at the very base of the tongue. Direct the child to try to taste it, having them depress the tongue (?taste the sugar spot?).
(Elizabeth S. McNeill, M.A., CCC-SLP,Goddard Kindergarten Center, Brockton Public Schools, Brockton, MA 02301)


1. Plural Grab Bag - (K-2)
For students working on plurals, I place multiples of objects or pictures into a bag.  The student closes his eyes and takes out one object.  He then states, "I found a _______".  When the second or third matching object is found, he states, "I found another ________.  Now I have 2 ________s."  I use common classroom objects such as paper clips, pencils, markers, crayons, small toys, etc.  For irregular plurals I use pictures.  (Carol Casserly, Newton, NJ)

2. WH Questions - I work with students from 3rd grade to 5th grade.  When we are working on
wh-questions, I like to play a fun guessing game.  One student or the
therapist chooses a picture card.  The other students take turns asking "good
wh-questions" to figure out what the picture is.  In the beginning, I
give them a chart with all the wh-words.    I help them keep track of "info
we have learned so far".  This is a great activity for learning to ask and
answer wh-questions appropriately.  It also helps with learning to
organize and remember the info they have learned.  This activity is also useful
for children working on attributes.  Best of all, it's a game!
(SARAH M.S., CF-SLP  Chatham, IL)

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