If you need vocabulary activities, strategies, and ideas for speech therapy, you’ve come to the right place! Check out my:
- Vocabulary Worksheets for Speech Therapy (100 vocabulary words! Print-and-go, one-sheet, no-prep vocabulary worksheets that use REAL pictures, available in digital format as well for teletherapy/virtual therapy)
- Upper Level Vocabulary Worksheets (100 academically-relevant vocabulary words, simple, strategy-based vocabulary worksheets perfect for middle and high schoolers)
Alternatively, if you’re just in need of a quick vocabulary goal, scroll to the bottom of this post, or check out my amazing, FREE 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.
Start By Teaching Vocabulary Strategies
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!
Strategies to Target Vocabulary in Speech Therapy
So what are these magical strategies?
Check out these evidence-based stratgies to increase vocabulary skills:
- Multiple exposures to the targeted vocabulary words (Hadley et al., 2018)
- Providing explicit, child-friendly definitions (Hadley et al., 2018)
- Encouraging children to use the vocabulary word expressively
- Making connections between known words and new words (Stahl, 2006)
- Providing examples and non-examples (Stahl, 2006)
- Drawing on the child’s background knowledge (Parsons et al., 2005)
- Identifying phonological characteristics of the word (Parsons et al., 2005)
- Writing the word and seeing it written in text in a sentence (Kucan, 2012)
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…
- use it in a sentence
- define it
- name a time they might use it
- write it, draw it, hear it, and read it!
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.
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One Sheet Vocabulary Worksheets
This is the vocabulary resource you’ve been looking for! These no prep worksheets give multiple exposures to both tier 1 and tier 2 vocabulary words… perfect for providing direct vocabulary instruction during speech and language therapy!More Info
Speech Therapy Vocabulary Activities
Using worksheets is a great way to focus your intervention, but they 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!
One of my favorite vocabulary activities is pairing these with picture books 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 vocabulary 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, playing videos are the perfect vocabulary activities! 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.
Vocabulary Goals for Speech Therapy
Here are some of vocabulary goals for speech therapy that I use when working with my students:
- Given a sentence containing an unknown vocabulary word, NAME will use synonym or antonym based context clues as a clue to the meaning of a word and define the word in 70% of opportunities.
- NAME will define words by category and by two or more key attributes in 80% of opportunities.
- NAME will demonstrate understanding of words, including math vocabulary terms, by relating them to their opposites (antonyms) and to words with similar but not identical meanings (synonyms) in 80% of opportunities.
- Given 1 cue, NAME will define a curricular vocabulary word using a complete sentence with correct grammar in 70% of opportunities.
- NAME will explain the meaning of a multiple meaning word using context clues in 70% of opportunities given 1 verbal prompt.
- Given words, NAME will be able to define age-appropriate vocabulary words using synonyms, by negation (not a…), antonyms, and by example during structured activities with 80% accuracy and minimal cues.
- Given example words from her curriculum, NAME will state the meaning of 15 different prefixes or suffixes given no adult support.
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 goal ideas and examples, check out my speech therapy goal bank!
One Sheet Vocabulary vs. Upper Level Vocabulary Worksheets
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
- One-sided worksheet
- Includes 3 real-life pictures for increased visual support
- Mostly tier 2 vocabulary words with a few more basic, tier 1 words
- Provides a child-friendly definition for each word
- Lower level alternative to…
UPPER LEVEL VOCABULARY STRATEGIES WORKSHEETS
- Double-sided worksheets
- Increased focus on morphology and literacy (reading and writing)
- Does not provide a definition for students
- Intended for grades 5+
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Upper Level Vocabulary Strategies Worksheets
Use these worksheets for your middle school students to teach a wide variety of vocabulary skills and, most importantly, strategies that work on increasing vocabulary AND word finding skills.More Info
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 vocabulary activities, strategies and word learning, not drilling or learning a specific set of words from a word list.
References and Resources for Vocabulary Intervention
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.