How Winging It Won the Day
Today was a long and full day of therapy and it was also one of my best and most memorable therapy days! I was seeing several kids today and unfortunately had forgotten to bring the bag I had packed for the last child (and was more than an hour out of town). So with 2 minutes to spare I whipped together one of the best lessons ever! To all those SLPs out there that have ever panicked about prepping for a crazy day or for those traveling SLPs who don't want to carry their entire office, here are some activities I used (that you can use too). All you need is paper and a pen, or crayons/markers if you have them.
1. Homemade Game Board: You can draw a path with squares and rip up pieces of paper with numbers on it to decide how many spaces you each get to move. This is great as a motivator! Today I did this activity when working on articulation.
2. Xs and Os: Another great motivator that can be used in combination with any goal.
3. Paper Flicking Game: It is amazing how much fun this game is for kids! All you have to do is roll up a ball of paper and create nets on both sides of the table using coins (or erasers, pieces of paper, paper clips, etc.) to mark the nets. You can use this activity to work on turn taking, breath support (blow the piece of paper), following directions, or as another motivator.
4. I Spy: This is great for working on s blends! It is also useful for asking questions (e.g., "Is it blue..."), using adjectives/descriptive vocabulary, and even categories (e.g., "I spy with my little eye something that is a fruit").
5. Hangman articulation: I have no idea where this idea came from but I did this with my client today and he loved it! I inserted the first sound (that was the target sound) and put in blanks and another letter and had him try to guess the word, resulting in many articulation trials and a super engaged client!
6. Story telling: The client I was working with today was working on retelling a story in sequential order. I shared with him a story of an event that happened to me recently and had him tell me the story back. For additional support I asked him, "What happened at the beginning... the middle.. and the end." You could make up any story for this activity and make it extra interesting for your client.
7. Quiz Show: Today I was working on new vocabulary words with my client so I created a quiz show that gave him multiple choice questions about each definition. After he selected the correct definition I had him include the word in a sentence. This worked so well today that he was incorporating his new words into conversation before he went back to class!
8. "Would you Rather?": We used this game to work on using the conjunction "or" and had a blast! This activity would also work well for children working on answering "Why?" questions and could be modified to work on answering other WH questions (e.g., "What do you think makes the snake better than the frog?" "When would it be a good time to be a snake?" "Who else do you think might want to be a snake?").
9. 20 Questions: This game is perfect for working on categories, vocabulary/descriptive words, and asking questions.
10. Make a story game: Take turns building a funny story together and create a simple hand written visual that indicates when you are at the beginning, middle, and end of the story. Once you finish creating the story together, have your client retell the story. This is sure to be tons of fun and a little silly, but once you do this game with your client they will ask to play it again and again!
11. Pretend you have toys: If you are working on pretend play skills there is no better time to practice then when you don't have any real toys! You can make believe that all your toys are there and have a tea party. If you need extra support, you can use everyday items in your environment to take the place of another object (e.g., Kleenex box can be a train or a book can be a plate).
12. The Cups Game: All you need for this one is 3 dixie cups. Look for a water cooler in the building for these. You can hide anything you are targeting under these cups (a question, a new word, articulation targets, etc.). If you've never played this before, it is super simple, just flip the cups upside down and hide something under 1 (can be more than 1) of the cups, mix them up, and have the child pick which cup to lift up.
If you are like me, and sometimes forget things when you get really busy, keep a copy of this in your car so that you always have fun ideas ready on the go!
If you have some of your own "winging it" ideas, I would love to hear them. Please comment or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.