Are you a fan of using real picture scenes for speech therapy? I love them so much that I have a whole BUNDLE of amazing Real Pictures products, featuring photographs to target narratives, inferencing and predicting, WH questions, vocabulary, describing and grammar!
Photographs are an amazing way to encourage lots of expressive language in our students. They are highly effective, motivating, and nice to look at!
In addition, more colorful and vibrant photos will provide children with more opportunities to use rich language. These are not simple object pictures. We are not just focusing on labelling. These pictures show actions, emotions, and give context perfect for inferencing.
Finally, carefully selected real pictures are excellent for showing examples of all kinds of different people, including diverse students. Clipart designers are getting better at offering different skin tones, but a real photograph really captures everyone’s unique features and can represent all.
Cutesy Clipart Is Not For Everyone
Cute graphics have their place in speech therapy. Your materials should also include black-and-white, text-based materials, and symbols. I love my clip art picture scenes because I can control what goes in the picture! This is perfect for target WH questions and sentence formation in a systematic way. But, photographs are especially good for certain populations.
If you are lucky enough to work with middle school or high school students, you know that cutesy materials are not going to cut it. The best part of using real photographs is that they are age-appropriate for everyone. Do your middle school speech therapy students a favor and give them age-appropriate materials!
In truth, photos are incredibly adaptable and can apply to children of all ages, with all needs.
The Advantages of Using Color Picture Scenes in Speech Therapy
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of research on the use of real pictures for speech therapy. Of course, individual children may respond differently to various stimuli.
There is, however, some research on the topic of using color materials. A lot of this research is from way back in the 1980s (when color printers started to become mainstream!), but it still applies today.
According to this study, using color has been found to:
- Enhance object recognition
- Facilitate picture naming
- Increase understanding of new concepts
- Improve reaction times
Interestingly, younger children and children with lower cognitive abilities have been found to prefer tasks presented in colors. Using color stimulus materials is more rewarding and motivating for kids!
Furthermore, color photographs may give a more accurate representation of your students’ expressive language. Based on this study, the authors suggested that:
“…current testing procedures risk the potential of underestimating expressive vocabulary in children by using black and white line drawings.”– Barrow, Holbert, & Rastatter, 2000
The last thing we want to do is to underestimate our students! When our students need to interpret a visual representation, we are increasing the cognitive load of the activity. We need to get an accurate picture for their present levels to write good goals and direct good therapy. Let’s make sure we targeting what we think we are targeting.
If your ink budget is crying over the higher cost of printing in color, just remember, you can always import your materials into a note-taking app on an iPad or laptop and show them there! Most of my materials are perfect for teletherapy, or just using digitally, with Boom card and Google Slide version available.
Going along with the idea that color is more effective, It turns out that there is a hierarchy for recognition of objects and pictures. More abstract visual representations increase the difficulty with recognition. This hierarchy is as follows:
- Color Photographs
- Black and White Photographs
- Miniature Objects
- Color Drawings
- Black and White line drawings/symbols
- Written Words
– Mirenda and Locke, 1989
Keep this in mind when thinking about what materials to use to target various articulation and language skills. Real pictures are more concrete. They represent the real world more than drawings. And we all know, the closer we can get to the real world, the more likely these skills are going to generalize to the real world
Using Real Picture Scenes for Speech Therapy
I use real pictures, in combination with teaching materials, symbols, and visuals for a multitude of different skills.
Real Pictures for Targeting Narratives
I use these 60 unique, relatable photos and tons of visuals to target storytelling, story structure, story grammar elements, and producing self-generated narratives in speech therapy. The visual supports remind students to target beginning, middle, and end, or first, next, then, and last prompts.
Target Inferencing and Predicting with Real Picture Scenes
These 100 real life picture cards allow you to provide effective, direct teaching on how to make inferences from picture scenes.
Each card includes a visual across the top outlining the “Look”, “Think”, “Infer”, “Predict” strategy (along with sentence starters for students to provide increased support). Next to the photo, there are four questions that require your students to think deeper and reflect on what the characters are thinking, what happened right before the picture was taken, and to make other picture specific inferences.
Target Describing with Real Pictures
These 70 one sheet, no-prep describing worksheets target semantic mapping by providing prompts to describe Group, Action, Place, Parts, Looks Like, and What Else Do I Know about real pictures. The worksheets include nouns from the following categories: animals, toys, vehicles, plants, insects, tools, electronics, clothing, food, furniture, body parts, places, sports, and instruments.
How I Target WH Questions with Real Pictures
Target Vocabulary With Real Pictures
These 100 different vocabulary words each feature three real-life photos to give different contexts to use new words. More contexts allow for a greater depth of vocabulary knowledge, perfect for Tier 2 vocabulary targets.
Target Sentence Formulation with Real Pictures
These sentence sliders provide three levels of prompting and difficulty presented on Google Slides and Boom Cards. Action picture scenes for speech therapy are perfect for working on verbs! My sentence sliders target:
- Adjectives (20 adjectives)
- Past Tense Verbs (21 Regular and 16 Irregular Past tense verbs)
- Simple Sentence Formation (35 pictures targeting: Subject + Verb, Subject + Verb + Object, and Subject + Verb + Place)
Use Real Pictures to Target Grammar
These 27 sentence prompts target grammar, MLU, verbs, pronouns, and basic syntax, each with 6 real picture options for lots of practice.
Target Receptive Language with Real Pictures
Have students receptively identify these skills with this real picture slide pack, featuring 20 slides for each of these categories:
- Object Identification
- Verb Identification
- Attribute Identification (size, shape, color, etc…)
- Function Identification
- Category Identification
- WH Questions (who, where, what)
Real Photos Bundle for All Your Speech Therapy Needs!
If you love real pictures as much as I do, you’ll love my new Real Pictures Bundle for Speech Therapy!
This money-saving bundle comes with these six products:
- Creating Narratives from Real Pictures for Speech Therapy
- Inferencing and Predicting Using Real Pictures for Speech Therapy
- Vocabulary Worksheets for Speech Therapy: One Sheet, Digital, Uses Real Pictures
- WH Questions with Real Pictures: Targeting Who, What, Where, When, and Why
- One Sheet Real Picture Describing for Speech Therapy – No Print
- Grammar Picture Pages for Speech Therapy
Enjoy hundreds of real pictures, with thoughtful and meaningful visuals and prompts for rich language discussion with your students! Target all aspects of language with simply, clean, no or low-prep, high quality materials I know you and your students will love.
Picture Scenes for Speech Therapy References
Mirenda, P. and Locke, P. (1989). A comparison of symbol transparency in nonspeaking persons with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders. https://doi.org/10.1044/jshd.5402.131
Barrow, I., Holbert, D., & Rastatter, M. (2000). Effect of color on developmental picture-vocabulary naming of 4-, 6-, and 8-year-old children. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. https://doi.org/10.1044/1058-0360.0904.310