Are you ready for 70 printable or digital describing pictures for speech therapy with real pictures? Check out my One Sheet Real Picture Describing for Speech Therapy packet! Enjoy no-brainer speech therapy with high quality photographs (perfect for color printing, digital materials, and teletherapy), plus helpful visuals to maximize your students’ success.
Not ready to commit to the full packet? Check out this FREEBIE for a taste of all the describing awesomeness!
If you are looking for describing goals, scroll down, or check out my IEP Speech Language Therapy Goal Bank.
For more information on the how and why we work on describing in speech therapy, read on for my complete guide!
Why work on describing in speech therapy?
Children with specific language impairment experience a late onset of lexical acquisition (McGregor, Newman, Reilly, & Capone, 2002). They learn fewer words and when they learn words, it takes more exposures. Word knowledge is improved by making connections to other words, but these connections to do not happen as they would in typically-developing children.
Speech therapists can help children improve word retrieval by teaching them about word associations. When a person learns to describe an object, we are creating more and more linguistic connections to that word. We make it salient. When we describe something, we list everything we can think of to define that word, making lots of connections, which improves semantic abilities. In a way, describing is like a first step towards semantic feature analysis, which examines the links between words, and provides a foundation to build future knowledge (Elleman, Oslund, Griffin, & Myers, 2019).
In addition, providing a description provides a template for increasing mean length of utterance (MLU). The more detail a child gives, the more opportunities for complex language will occur.
If you want to help your students improve when defining, comprehending their curriculum, organizing their thoughts, and providing details, then you’ll want to address their describing skills!
Describing pictures for speech therapy
One of my earlier products, Early Describing and Categorizing Packet for Speech Therapy contains 110 icon cards in a huge, visually based packet targeting categories, describing, functions, comparing/contrasting, WH questions, and SO MUCH MORE.
This packet teaches the skills necessary for describing items in isolation, keeping your students successful! The sections included are describing the category, color, size, location, function, and parts of various items. You can read more about this product on my blog.
That packet is great for AAC users and younger students, but I also wanted to make a product that would be lower-prep and appeal to students of all ages.
I feel like a better therapist and my students make more progress when my therapy is consistent, strategy-based, and focused. I created these One Sheet Real Picture Describing for Speech Therapy worksheets for quick, no-prep describing pictures for speech therapy to help my students succeed with their describing goals.
As always, I also tried to include resources, visuals, and graphic organizers so you could easily carryover the skill using other pictures/texts/items too.
While these worksheets can (obviously) be printed, they also include an editable text box so you can easily use them on your computer during teletherapy sessions too! A Google Slides version is included as well for digital therapy use.
The worksheets include pictures from the following categories: vehicles, plants, insects, tools, electronics, clothing, food, furniture, body parts, animals, toys, places, sports, and musical instruments.
The best first step is to teach your students each component needed to describe. The included visuals are perfect for this.
Once the students are familiar with describing, I love using these worksheets as a “picture of the week” activity with most therapy groups. You can use these worksheets to address goals beyond just describing too.
Therapy Session Suggestion
Here’s how I might use this activity in a super easy, no-prep way (that you can do again and again with all sorts of objects):
Let’s say we’re describing a pig. ?⠀
First, I’d remind my students we’re doing to DESCRIBE, or tell all about, a pig. We’re going to tell what a pig is like. ⠀
Then, we break down as many ways to describe a pig as possible. ⠀
- PLACE – Where do we find pigs? (on farms)⠀
- APPEARANCE – What do they look like? What color are they? What are the bigger/smaller than? (they’re pink, smaller than a cow)⠀
- GROUP – What groups are pigs part of? (farm animal)⠀
We list everything we can think of and everything we know about pigs. I keep asking “What else? What else? What else?”.
Last, I ask my students, “What is a pig?” and have them tell me in a full sentence using what most important details we just listed.⠀
For example, “A pig is a farm animal that is pink and smaller than a cow.”
Moving from simple describing to sentence structures
Turning descriptions into a single describing sentence is a CLUTCH skill for all of our students with language disorders!⠀
I often end up using this sentence structure when I model describing for my students: ⠀
- A _________ (item)…⠀
- is a __________ (category/type of…)⠀
- that __________ (most important detail about it, often function/action)⠀
- and _________ (a secondary detail/attribute). ⠀
Drilling this sentence structure over and over results in carryover into the classroom. Some of my students relied on it when they had difficulty finding a specific word (ex: “I’m thinking of the word for the pink farm animal”).⠀
Plus, because I use that sentence structure so consistently in my therapy, measuring progress for a goal like this becomes SUPER simple (see below for my favorite goal suggestion)!
Make describing fun by changing up the activity!⠀
Put one of the describing pictures for speech therapy in a page protector or dry erase pocket and tape an index card on the right side of the page. ⠀
Then, have each student write an description of the item on the index card OR write one descriptor and pass it to the next student (and so on).⠀
Last, I pull all of the index cards off of the dry erase pockets and we use them to play guessing games!⠀
“This card says that it’s a food, you eat it, it’s round, it has crust, sauce, cheese, and toppings. What do you think this card described?”⠀
This resource also includes a page that you can insert ANY picture! You could describe Thomas the Train or even your student’s dog! We want the skills to generalize to non-preferred objects, but we can help motivate our students to learn strategies by starting with their favorites.
Speech therapy describing goals
Here’s one of my most favorite vocabulary goals for describing:
- NAME will describe pictures by category and 2+ key attributes in 4 of 5 opportunities
I like saying “key attributes” (instead of naming specific ones) because certain attributes are more important and more salient for some items compared to others!⠀
For a student working on this goal, we might describe a picture in a supported, structured way (with visuals, sentence starters, examples, etc…). Then, we take all of the descriptions and information we came up and put it into a sentence!⠀
For more goal ideas, make sure to check out my IEP Speech Language Therapy Goal Bank!
Praise for Speechy Musings Describing Products
My Early Describing and Categorizing Packet for Speech Therapy has over 1200 5-star reviews, like this one:
I’ve actually bought quite a few packets focused on describing and categorizing, this one is my favorite. It’s a HUGE packet that progresses nicely from kiddos who are just learning this skill (beginning stages). Thank you for such a great product!Sarah L.
My One Sheet Real Picture Describing for Speech Therapy packet has over 380 5-star reviews! Here is what a couple of SLPs had to say:
This is one of my favorite resources to use! Real pictures mean it’s not “kiddie” for my middle school students, but each picture and the describing questions are simple enough that early elementary students can also complete the activity. I’ve used this resource to work on describing, identifying salient details vs irrelevant details, expanding sentences/grammar, expected/unexpected, and as a stimulus picture for fluency sessions! I appreciate how each item is relatively familiar to students but has rich details in the picture. The editable PDF allows me to type directly on the document which is so helpful while distance learning.Elizabeth E.
I’m telling you, anything from speechymusings will be a Go-to in your therapy arsenal! I use this resource with about 80% of my caseload.Jennifer Y.
References and Resources for Describing
Elleman, A., Oslund, E., Griffin, N., & Myers, K. (2019). A review of middle school vocabulary interventions: Five research-based recommendations for practice. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools. https://doi.org/10.1044/2019_LSHSS-VOIA-18-0145
McGregor, K., Newman, R., Reilly, R. & Capone, N. (2002). Semantic representation and naming in children with specific language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. https://doi.org/10.1044/1092-4388(2002/081)