A Start to Finish Guide: How to Get Started using Themes in Play-Based Speech Therapy

Updated: Jun 24




Getting started with using themes in speech therapy doesn't have to be costly, tricky, or time-consuming!


As a matter of fact - using themes can be quick, affordable, and easy! I use a few verstaile materials per theme that I can modify to accommodate for my ENTIRE caseload (i.e. I don't have piles of laminated resources for every possible goal).




Here is my step-by-step guide for bringing themes

into your therapy room!


1) ORGANIZE WHAT YOU ALREADY OWN: Sort the materials (books, printed resources, games, toys) you already own into piles, bags, or bins, sorted by theme. I suggest you start with 'broad' themes and divide as your resource library grows. Theme ideas can be broad like Food or more specific, like Picnic. Ideas for themes include seasons, holidays, animals, monsters, food, transportation, community helpers.


2) PURGE: This is the most difficult part for a lot of SLPs! I get it - purging is difficult - but I promise that you won't regret it!


I use this simple "Gotta Go" Criteria:


It's "Gotta Go" if:

  • it doesn't fit into a theme.

  • you do not use it.

  • you don't like it.

  • it's broken/missing pieces.

If you are really attached to a few resources that fit in any of these "gotta go" criteria, place them in their own bin/bag. Label the it "other". In one year, review the "Other" bin. If you haven't touched an item in a year - PURGE!


3) INVENTORY YOUR RESOURCES: Now that you have these beautiful piles - and no junk - go through each theme. Check if you have a book, a game, a gross motor activity, a toy, and a craft. If you have themes missing these items, jot them down! For example: Missing Materials: Monsters: book, craft. Farm: Toy, Book. These are the materials you will be 'hunting' for!


4) ORGANIZE: Choose an organization system that suits your storage space. I like to use bins, stored on Ikea shelving, with labels by Texas Speech Mom. I plan on writing a detailed blog post on storage ideas soon, so stay tuned!


5) COLLECT: Begin collecting the resources that are missing from your collection. I recommend starting with 'filling in' year-round resources (e.g. farm, zoo, food) because you can use these bins at any time!


I do want to share three quick money-saving tips for buying resources:

  • Purchase holiday themed resources AFTER the holiday to save a few bucks.

  • Search on on Facebook Marketplace, Garage Sales, Kijiji, and Second Hand Stores. You can even post "looking for" posts for specific resources.

  • Access books on Youtube, Vooks, or Epic, or head to your local library!


Not sure what materials to buy?

I have put together lists of my favorite resources for my SIX favorite year-round themes (zoo, farm, food, pets, monsters, and cookies) in the freebies section of my website!


These are not affiliate links - these are simply resources that I have used and loved for years because they are fun and versatile! Access this and a tonne of other freebies by becoming a subscriber to the Anna Dee SLP Email List!




#playbasedtherapy #themesinspeechtherapy #speechtherapy #preschool #monsterthemedtherapy #petsthemedtherapy #foodthemedtherapy

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