Friday, October 8, 2021

Halloween Therapy Plans

 Halloween is a favorite in my therapy room. I have accumulated a TON of Halloween resources over the years. I definitely have more Halloween resources than any other theme! Here is what we will be doing in my room! 



I use this I Spy (affiliate link) book to target a ton of different skills - articulation, attributes, categories, etc. 

Social Skills

Pumpkin Craftivity to send home for additional practice. We make these in therapy for nearly all my patients. For some, it is simply the act of following the directions to make them. But, for others, I add articulation words, language targets, etc. 


These are some of my favorites for Halloween: Twas the Night Before Halloween, Peek A Boo, Room on the Broom, Happy Halloween Biscuit, Goodnight Goon, Berenstein Bears Trick or Treat, There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat, The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, and Happy Sparkling Halloween. 

I hope this gave you guys some fun ideas for your therapy room! Happy Halloween! 

Friday, October 1, 2021

20 Easy To Clean Therapy Materials for Play Based Speech Therapy

Unfortunately, we are still in the midst of COVID-19. My facility continues to require masks, safety goggles, and enhanced cleaning procedures. All of this also corresponds with the retirement of one of our cleaning aids - who they have chosen not to replace! Ugh! So therapists are having to do more cleaning without getting any more time to do it. All of this has made me really start to think about the toys I use - especially in play based therapy. I want easy to clean toys with few parts to help reduce the amount of time I spend cleaning. I have started using the following toys/strategies to help me target speech and language goals in a fun way while reducing my cleaning workload. 

1.) Crocodile dentist (affiliate link) - This is great just to use as a reinforcer between trials. You can also target those social skills of game playing without a ton of little pieces. With my littles, I will often have it bite me. We tell the crocodile “no bite” or “bad gator” to work on 2 word phrases. 

2.) Hopscotch - I used masking tape to make a hopscotch board on my floor. We can do drill practice, take turns, talk about various verbs, work on number identification, etc. And the only thing I have to sanitize when I’m done is the bean bag!

3.) Crafts - I know crafts don’t seem like an activity that would require little cleaning afterwards. But, you can have students bring their pencil boxes from their classroom - so no sharing the supplies or cleaning them afterwards. I only give them the few supplies they need so they can use them up and take them home. No need to touch a bunch of stuff! If you need ideas for crafts, you can check out my Craft Visuals Mega Pack here. 

4.) Apps - I am usually not an iPad therapist at all. I am passionate about reducing screen time for our little ones. I feel like they already get so much of it at home - I don’t want to add more in therapy. Not to mention, parents are often present for my sessions. Once they see me whip out an ipad, they seem to think that they can plop their kids in front the screen and they will learn everything they need to know. And with so many apps being marketed as “educational,” how can they not? So if I use apps, I make sure to have those tough conversations with parents on how to use them appropriately. I try to think about apps that can target specific skills. I love the “Peekaboo” series - Peekaboo Fridge, Peekaboo Barn, and Peekaboo Safari are great for vocabulary and animal noises. My Play Home can take the place of a doll house. There are also lots of great games - snakes and ladders, bowling, etc. While I’m not a huge fan of apps, there is something appealing about simply wiping down a screen between sessions!

5.) Songs and Fingerplays - I have been adding a lot more songs into therapy lately. Once again, nothing to sanitize afterwards! My littles love it! “Wheels on the Bus,” “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes,” “Five Little Monkeys,” and “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt” have been recent favorites in our therapy room. Cocomelon is super motivating and has tons of great songs for a variety of skills. Add in echo microphones to make it more exciting. 

6.) Cars & Ramp - Play based therapy is king in Early Intervention. And cars seem to be the prince! I have this Vtech Ramp (affiliate link). I only use one part of it at a time, plus two cars - super quick to clean up! If I don’t get them cleaned before my next session, I can use the other part and two different cars. It’s like two toys for the price of one! 

7.) The Playground - Use the playground if you can! Unfortunately, I don’t often have access to a playground. But swings and slides are great for targeting up/down, go/stop, wee, more, help, etc. So many options and nothing has to be sanitized afterwards!

8.) Origami - Making paper planes, boats, hats, etc are great activities to target following directions, listening comprehension, spatial concepts, etc. There are lots of great youtube videos out there that will teach you how. I also like this Origami Book from Amazon (affiliate link). Once again, nothing to sanitize! Just send their origami creation home with them! 

9) Bubbles - I picked up a bubble machine at Wal-Mart. So many of my littles have LOVED having bubbles back in therapy. We can target so many things with bubbles and all I have to do is wipe down the handle and button when I’m done. 

10.) Flashlights - Flashlights also make for fun, play based therapy. We can target on/off, up/down, help, more, spatial concepts, exclamatory phrases, etc with my littles. Some of my kiddos can even work on making shadow puppets in the light. We make animals and demonstrate verbs in front of the light. Once again, all I have to sanitize are the buttons and the handle. 

11.) Wind Up Toys - I LOVE wind up toys and have used them in therapy forever. You can target go/stop, help, more, on/off, verbs, spatial concepts, following directions, etc. And you just have to give them a quick wipe down when you’re done. You can also print out articulation sheets. Have your students say whatever word their wind up toy lands on/is closest to. I have a blog post here that talks about all the ways I use wind up toys. These are the wind up toys I use (affiliate link).

12.) Ball - My Early Intervention aged patients love ball play. I love to use it to target lots of things, but my favorites are verbs (roll, throw, catch, kick, bounce, etc) and taking turns. Once again, a quick wipe down when I’m done is all it takes to be sanitized for the next kiddo. 

13.) Books - Of course, I love using books in therapy all the time - COVID or no COVID. But I’ve noticed that I can target a lot of skills with books. Often times, the kids don’t even touch them - no sanitizing necessary!!

14.) Magnifying glasses - This one was new to me during the pandemic. I was looking for ways to make articulation interactive without all the cards and sensory bins. So I created Magnifying Glass Speech. The students can take their papers with them when they leave. So all the needs sanitized is the magnifying glass!

15.) Sensory Bags - Speaking of sensory bins, I needed a replacement for those, too. Our facility said no more sensory bins, unless you have an individual one for each patient. That seemed expensive and tiresome. So I started making sensory bags using hair gel, glitter, and food coloring. I have a variety of Sensory Bag Speech products available in my TpT store. The best part is, you can just simply wipe down the bag when done!

16.) Pop Fidgets - These things appear to be all the rage. There are lots of great TpT materials out there to pair with pop fidgets. I have this book from File Folder Heaven that I use to work on following directions, quantity concepts, and spatial concepts. I have rainbow ones to work on colors. I will also pair them with a die. Roll the die and pop that many bubbles. Whoever gets all their bubbles popped first, wins! 

17.) Snail Pace Race (affiliate link) - I have loved using this game during COVID. At most you have 6 snails, a board, and a die to sanitize when you’re done - no small pieces or cards! 

18.) Simon Says - I love playing Simon Says with my little ones. We work on following directions, verb vocabulary, imitating movements, imitating sounds (ex. “Simon Says say AHHHH”). Best of all - NOTHING to clean when you are done!

19.) Play Doh - This one may seem odd. But I just make sure each patient has their own jar. I label it and keep it in my cabinet so we can use it multiple times. I usually give them some play doh scissors, rolling pin, and a few cookie cutters. We can target so many things with play doh. When we are done, I only have a few accessories to sanitize. 

20.) Pounding Bench (affiliate link) - This is another one that has been getting a lot more use in my therapy room since COVID-19 started. I like to use it with my Early Intervention kiddos. We target sound effects - boom, bang, ow, etc. We can also target colors, following directions, spatial concepts, etc. Once again, a quick wipe down when done is all it needs!

I hope this gave you some ideas that you can use in your therapy room. I know we are all busy and adding in extra cleaning definitely isn’t ideal. But we can make it work with some creative planning! Anything to keep those kiddos safe! Thanks for stopping by! 

Friday, September 17, 2021

Wind Up Toys in Speech Therapy


Wind Up Toys are a favorite of mine for therapy. I use them a ton of different ways. They are also a pretty cheap therapy toy to keep on hand. I bought this box (affiliate link) of 25 for $15 on Amazon. Here's how I will use them in therapy. 

1.) More - These are awesome for early communicators that are working on signing, saying, or using AAC for "more." Simpy wind it up. When it stops, encourage them to ask for more. 

2) Help - Let the child try to wind it up themselves. Chances are, they won't be able to do it on their own. This makes a perfect opportunity to work on signing/saying/AAC for "help." 

3.) On/Off - Since you can hear the toy moving, it's easy to identify whether the toy is "on" or "off." I'll model "on" and "off" for them often throughout play and encourage them to say "on" when they want more. 

4.) Stop/Go - I'll target stop & go much the same way as on/off. I'll wind the toy up and hold it, waiting for the child to say/sign/use AAC for "go."

5.) Articulation - I'll lay down 10-20 articulation cards and allow the student to wind up the toy and let it go on the cards. Whichever card it lands on/is closest to, the child will practice 10 times before moving on. You can also do this with articulation worksheets. 

6.) Language - I'll do the same thing as I did with the articulation cards, but substitute language cards.

7.) Target practice - I'll lay down my giant paper target. Then I'll let my patients wind the toy up and see how close they can get to the bullseye. Of course, the closer they get, the more words they have to say (the target has a number in each ring). You can do this with articulation or language targets. 

8.) Races - I will have wind up toy races with my patients as a reward for work completed. Whoever's wind up toy goes the farthest or makes it to a pre-determined destination first wins. 

9.) Waiting - Wind up toys are great for kids who need to practice social skills such as waiting. Either the patient or I will wind the toy up and set it down. The patient must wait to touch the toy until it is done moving. Wind it more and more to extend the length of time they have to wait. 

10.) Being Gentle - For my kiddos that are a little rough with toys, we will practice playing gently. These toys seem to break somewhat easily - but even if they don't, it's easy to pretend it isn't working. After a child throws it or slams it down, I will pretend that I can't wind it up anymore and model "broken" for them. This helps teach them that they have to be gentle or the toy won't work anymore. 

11.) All done - I'll model "all done" for my patients after the wind up toy stops moving. Encourage them to sign, speak, or use AAC to tell you when the toy is "all done." 

12.) Verbs - The variety pack I bought has some toys that hop, run, walk, flip, etc. We will use multiple toys to model these verbs for my patients. I will encourage my patients to imitate the actions and use verbs in their speech. 

13.) WH Questions - Because this package has a variety of toys, I will use them to target "wh" questions. I will give my patients 2-3 choices of wind up toys to answer my question. After they choose the correct one, they can wind it up as a reward. 

14.) Fast/Slow - The toys often move faster when wound up more and slower when wound up less. I can control the speed this way to target fast/slow with my patients. After they get better at this, they can choose whether the toy moves fast or slow themselves.

15.) Spatial Concepts - My patients and I will design an obstacle course with various random objects (blocks, stacking cups, etc). We will wind up the toy and let it go. Then we will talk about where it is - "its walking BY the green cup, it's BETWEEN the two cups," etc. 

16.) Early Exclamatory Phrases - For my early communicators, we will work on some of those early phrases. I will purposely wind up the toy and place it so it will walk off the table. We will practice "uh oh," "oh no," "oops," "ouch," etc when this happens. 

I hope this post gave you some fun ideas of ways to use wind up toys in therapy. Thanks for stopping by!