Updated: Jun 26
I don't know about you, but I didn't learn how to use play to target speech sounds while I was in Grad School. I learned how to use Articulation Cards, Worksheets, and drill. Needless to say, it wasn't a ton-o-fun (for me or my students!).
I knew something had to change. I knew I needed to start PLAYING, but I had no idea how. (You can read about how I made the switch to Play-Based Therapy HERE.) I want to save you the struggles I had while I was trying to figure out exactly HOW I was going to use Play-Based Therapy. I have compiled my TOP four tips for bringing play into your therapy room, but before I share them, I want to define what I consider Play-Based Therapy to be.
Play-based therapy is any intrinsically motivating activity that provides ample natural opportunities to learn and practice skills.
This means any activity can be play-based, with a little creativity! Use these four tips to bring PLAY into your therapy room!
1) Use Early Language Strategies: This seems weird, I know, but hear me out. Strategies such as giving choices, using cloze sentences, and pausing are all great ways to elicit target words from the student! For example, if you are targeting 's-blends' during Pop the Pig, you can ask the child, "Are we giving the pig a snack or a toy?", or you can use the phrase, 'Let's give the pig a ____(Snack)." This is a simple and effective way to elicit words naturally during play.
2) Have a Master List of Words: This is an absolute MUST. No thinking of words on the spot. I like to write my target words on a post-it before the session (and I mean two minutes before the session). Keep this list handy at all times! Check out my Thematic Articulation Word Lists! There are 16 themes included!
3) Make it work: I think this is where most people get stuck. They try to find the 'perfect' activity to target a sound. I'm going to let you in on a little secret - any activity is the perfect activity - you just need to be a little creative! I find open-ended activities/toys are the easiest to use to target a variety of speech sounds (think playdough, crafts, books, cars).
4) Model the target words. A lot: Model the words you have selected for the activity (from your master word list!) many times at the beginning of the activity - you will be shocked at how many times your student will say their words without you telling them to. A quick tip: Change the name of any people/animals in your activity/game/story to include your target sound to get TONNES of opportunities for modeling and lots of productions.
Not sure where to start?
I have designed many activities that are LOADED with target Speech Sounds, which include elicitation ideas, word lists, and manipulatives. I have shared three BEST SELLERS from my store.
FIND, FEED, and MOVE: These sound loaded Boom Card games are perfect for preschoolers because they include the preschool TRIFECTA - Feeding, Finding, and Moving! Your students will love searching for the hiding objects, feeding the animals, and moving like the hidden animal buddy. Each phoneme comes with a Sound Loaded Game and a PDF that includes target words and elicitation ideas for each of the 20 Phonemes included! Want to check out a free sample? Grab it here!
PLAY-BASED ARTICULATION BUNDLE: bundle includes 6 Hands-On activities that are loaded with the target phoneme. Each activity has opportunities for students to practice their target sound in a natural setting and in a meaningful way because the target words occur naturally during the activity. Each phoneme has its own activity, which includes props, instructions, target words for each word position, and elicitation ideas. Activity types include games, dramatic play, treasure hunts/adventures, crafts, and stories.
SOUND LOADED GAMES: Each of these TWENTY-ONE games were designed to be loaded with your student's target phoneme - which means your student's target words that will occur naturally throughout the activity. Your students will love hiding and finding the objects in each game and practicing their speech sounds. You will love the easy to use cheat sheet of target words and elicitation ideas! Want to check out a free sample? Grab it here!
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