If you need ideas to target vocabulary for speech therapy, you’ve come to the right place! Check out my:
Alternatively, if you’re just in need of a quick vocabulary goal, scroll to the bottom of this post, or check out my Speech Therapy IEP Goal Bank!
Vocabulary knowledge is one of the most important areas within comprehension so it’s critical SLPs target this skill explicitly.
Sure, you can cobble together your vocabulary instruction on your own, pulling out random vocabulary words from a book you are reading.
Or, you could systematically teach vocabulary strategies, starting with known high-impact Tier 2 vocabulary, using consistent visuals to really cement those skills.
Why do I teach vocabulary words my students already know?
I often introduce these worksheets using vocabulary words that my students already know, or are at least semi-familiar with!
For example, Consider words like “awful” – it’s a great one because while my students have probably heard it before, they might not know exactly how to define or explain it. You see, these worksheets are meant to guide your students in THINKING ABOUT WORDS.
That is key – the point is NOT to learn a specific word list or set of vocabulary words.
The point IS to learn how to study words to understand and remember them better… to teach the use of tools or strategies. And sometimes, it’s easier to learn strategies like this with words you’re a little familiar with already. This is why I include easier words like “awful” or “empty” alongside more difficult, academic words like “analyze” or “descend” in this vocab resource. It allows you to use the same structure, tools, and strategies while building up in difficulty as you go!
Our student with language impairments are already behind on their vocabulary skills. They are not going to catch up if we just try to drill words during limited speech therapy time. They need to have strategies to help them learn new vocabulary all the time!
Once your students have those easier/more concrete multiple meaning words mastered, consider moving them to more advanced, tier 2 multiple meaning words. They frequently come up in texts that students read in class!⠀
So what are these magical strategies?
Check out these evidence-based stratgies to increase vocabulary skills:
You’ll notice that my Vocabulary Worksheets utilize most of these strategies to help your students achieve their goals.⠀
They challenge your students to really think about a word and…⠀
Also, the worksheets directly target morphological features. For example, what is the difference between “cat” and “cats”? Or “dense” and “density”?⠀
I love teaching similar words all together like that. I feel like I’m getting more bang for my buck by connecting words like “equator” with “equal” with “equalize”. Knowing that they all share a root (💡equ- means equal in case you’re curious!) helps my students understand how words work!⠀
Another thing these worksheets do well is talk about how words change in different contexts, perfect for targeting multiple meaning words.
Using worksheets is a great way to focus your intervention, but shouldn’t be the only materials you use. Combining these worksheets with other activities such as picture books, videos, or projects can increase student engagement and understanding as well.
For instance, do you have any students who are into fire trucks or ambulances? Target the word “rescue” and pair it with a motivating book or toy!⠀
I love pairing these with picture books and other activities that are related to the target vocabulary word. For example, you might read a book where the theme is courage and bravery and then complete the “brave” worksheet.
In need of a quick lesson plan? Here’s an idea for a therapy session using these resources:⠀
📚 First, read the book The Tiny Seed. ⠀
📝 Then, do a worksheet to dive deeper into the word “tiny”. ⠀
🌱 Last, you could even open up a couple of seed packets. Compare and contrast the seeds. Talk about how they are “tiny” (and smooth and bumpy and round). ⠀
This is a super easy, functional activity for the beginning of spring! It’s fun for a variety of ages too!⠀
Also, these worksheets are both great for teletherapy or for sending home as homework if you’re required to provide either of those things right now. ⠀
In addition, I love playing videos to illustrate the vocabulary words. For example, I might search for videos of ancient ruins when using the “ancient” vocabulary page. Many relatable videos can be found by searching websites like YouTube.
Here are some of vocabulary goals for speech therapy that I use when working with my students:
Although it might be tempting to address these vocabulary goals by drilling or quizzing them on a specific list of words, I encourage you to teach strategies, then collect data when it’s progress time.
For more IEP goal ideas and examples, check out my speech therapy goal bank!
I have two products focusing on vocabulary intervention in speech therapy. You can read more specifically about my Upper Level Vocabulary Strategies in this blog post.
Here are the basics…⠀
ONE SHEET VOCABULARY WORKSHEETS⠀
UPPER LEVEL VOCABULARY STRATEGIES WORKSHEETS
Both packets target 100 words and yes, there is *some* overlap in the word selections. I’ve found that this makes it easier to transition from one to the other. ⠀
Last, both packets are focused on strategies and word learning, not drilling or learning a specific set of words from a word list.
If you want to learn more about EBP and effective vocabulary instruction, I would recommend the books below:
Biemiller, A., & Boote, C. (2006). An effective method for building meaning vocabulary in primary grades. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98, 44-62.
Hadley, E. B., Dickinson, D. K., Hirsch-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. M. (2018). Building semantic networks: The impact of a vocabulary intervention on preschoolers’ depth of word knowledge. Reading Research Quarterly. Advance online publication.
Kucan, L. (2012). What is important to know about vocabulary? The Reading Teacher, 65, 360-366.
Marulis, L. & Neuman, S. (2010). The effects of vocabulary intervention on young children’s word learning: A meta-analysis. Review of educational research, 80, 300-335.
Parsons, S., Law, J., & Gascoigne, M. (2005). Teaching receptive vocabulary to children with specific language impairment: A curriculum-based approach. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 21(1), 39–59.
Spencer, S., Clegg, J., Lowe, H., & Stackhouse, J. (2017). Increasing adolescents’ depth of understanding of cross-curriculum words: an intervention study. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders.
Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Wright, L., Pring, T., & Ebbels, S. (2017). Effectiveness of vocabulary intervention for older children with (developmental) language disorder. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders.