Speech therapy themes are a perfect way to streamline your therapy lesson plans.
In case you’re having a hard time coming up with therapy ideas lately, I’ve got your back. I have 7 complete thematic units (plus more coming in the future) to target 12+ language skills!
Have you ever just wished that there was a published curriculum for speech therapy? Just a nice, straight-forward manual we could follow step-by-step until our students make it through and graduate?
We all know a curriculum doesn’t exist because we need to provide individualized intervention for these kids. If a curriculum worked, they wouldn’t be coming to us!
How often do these things happen to you?:
Using themes in your speech therapy sessions can help with all of these problems!
Some of my best advice for SLPs is to put your therapy on auto-pilot. Find a core set of materials for each of your evidence-based targets. Prepare what you need to (or find no-prep versions!), then move on.
The reality of being an SLP is that we have a lot to do in a little time. You have been trained to be an SLP. You can run therapy in your sleep. Find what works for you and your students and stick with it.
When you focus your speech therapy around themes, it helps provide focus to your therapy and a direction for planning.
My themed language therapy units include a wide variety of materials and resources for your students with language goals using common, motivating themes to help keep you organized! Think of it like a starter toolkit that will guide your therapy planning for ~2-4 weeks depending on your caseload and therapy style.
Each unit contains materials so you can work on the following language skills (for more information about how to target each of these areas in speech therapy, click the links!):
You can target all of these areas within a thematic umbrella to keep it simple, fun, and interesting!
Best of all, my theme packs all come with easy-to-print materials, as well as bonus digital materials on Google Slides and Boom cards, perfect for teletherapy and virtual therapy.
Using consistent materials will make data collection so much easier and so much more relevant. If you are constantly changing your therapy, you are also changing your targets, prompts, cues, and supports.
Is your data measuring what you think it’s measuring?
Make it easy on yourself – use consistent materials to establish skills.
My thematic units are perfect for using consistent materials that give repeated exposure and practice to the same set of skills, using the same set of strategies and visuals. This consistency will make data collection and progress monitoring so easy!
Of course, we do want to keep generalization in mind and have a plan to move beyond structured speech therapy materials and into classroom materials. That’s why my thematic units are always strategy-based. Practice in speech to move into the classroom, using the same visuals and strategies. These units are the perfect stepping stone to success in the academic environment!
Using themes in speech therapy is an easy way to build background knowledge. Background knowledge is an essential foundation for inferencing, predicting, and ultimately, comprehension.
“…engaging students in prior knowledge activities increases the comprehension and retention of information.”– Wallach, 2014
In general, it is not a good idea to be teaching new material or a new game AND new language skills all at the same time. By spending a longer period of time on a single topic, we can reduce the cognitive load that our students might be using while they are learning about that topic. Which means that we can spend more of that cognitive load on learning the language skills we are trying to teach them!
Plus, using thematic materials will help our students make connections across therapeutic targets. Spending one week on vocabulary strategies with students around a squirrel theme this week will give you an additional opportunity to use that vocabulary in context next week when you are comparing and contrasting in the same theme.
Additionally, using themes in speech therapy can keep speech therapy interesting and help increase engagement. Engagement is actually an EBP way to improve speech outcomes. In fact, one 2020 study found that a child who receives 8 more minutes of engaging therapy is significantly associated with a 1 standard deviation gain improvement over regular therapy (Schmitt, 2020).
I’ve put a lot of thought into my speech therapy themes. You might even get lucky and be able to incorporate my themes into themes that are already happening in the classroom!
Here are my theme suggestions:
Plus, my Searching for Home Narrative-Based Intervention Kit is a thematic unit with mailed-to-you story cards!
More themes coming soon!
If you are looking for some free speech therapy ideas, you have come to the right place. For those of you who are ready to try out some of my thematic speech therapy activities, I have a few freebie mini-units. These will give you a taste of everything that is included in my full units.
Enjoy your free speech therapy materials!