Saturday, March 11, 2017

St. Patrick's Day Therapy is Always Magical!

Call me crazy, but Christmas is not my favorite holiday. It always makes for great family memories but also comes with lots of pressure and chaos.  I love holidays that are just ALL about fun- easy, breezy fun times.  That's why I always look forward to Halloween, Mardi Gras, Cinco de Mayo, and St. Patrick's Day! It's fun being a school SLP for St. Patrick's Day.  All the kids try to wear something green (without violating the dress code) and worry about getting pinched. I stayed equipped with green stickers to ward off meanie pinchers. With my after school clients, it's just as fun.
 I LOVE St. Patrick's Day therapy! 
I It's weird and wacky and kind of pointless, and I can't get enough of it. I start on March 1 and don't stop the "leprechaun magic" (and everything GREEN and rainbows) until March 17. 

Since I was lucky enough to be given a Cariboo game (thanks to a parent of a former student with autism), we definitely get our Cariboo on!! This year, we actually played outside in the yard because Spring seems to have come early! 

This little guy happens to need to work on wh- questions (so many of our kids do!) Isn't is just CRAZY how motivating this game is?  Just to get the treasure chest to slowly open (and they they want to do it all over again which is FINE with me!) 
See this game HERE. 

Of course, dot art is a staple in my articulation therapy, and who doesn't love rainbows? So we have definitely been going some St. Patty's dot art. 

I love dot art (for any skills but mostly artic) because you can sneak tons of practice in and the kids just think they're painting. *win-win.

I love it even more because you can send it home for "speech homework" and kids get even more practice that way (if their parents are on board). 

See all those little pictures? That means kids don't need to be able to read to know what word to practice. I use this the most with non-readers - especially preschoolers. Getting to "dot" a word after saying it (once, twice, three times) is immediately rewarding. 

Of course, it also dresses up the therapy room with St. Patty's masterpieces, too, which is always a plus. You can find this dot art HERE. It's absolutely no prep- just print and use- and has a page for all of these phonemes.../p/, /b/, /t/, /d/, /k/, /g/, /f/, /v/, /h/, /j/, /w/, /m/, /n/, "sh," "ch," " j," /l/, /l/ blends, /s/, /z/, /s/ blends, /r/, vocalic r, variations of vocalic r, and /r/ blends 

I probably sound like a broken record always blabbing about quick drill, too, but it's a MUST for also getting tons of artic repetitions in therapy! If you've used these, you know exactly what I mean. 

If you haven't you should try it! They're the simplest low prep games that kids BEG for - which is crazy because they're super simple - because they're sort of addictive. 

I like putting the quick drill cards in a themed "container" sometimes just to shake things up. This little treasure chest full of gold coins was just perfect. If you want to check out quick drill, there are tons right HERE and this one is called Lucky Dog.

Of course, we all have students or clients working on listening and/or following directions. To keep their little hands busy (to fool them into thinking they're not working), I like to use "color" or "cut" while working on this skill.  Here is a "listen and color" activity.

Of course, before practicing a skill, we should always "teach" it (or a strategy) first. Practicing without teaching is just constant assessment and we don't want to fall into that trap. 
I really like visuals to teach strategies for skills I target with my little guys. 

Now I've blogged about this DIY game before BUT I have to mention it again, because it's a student favorite as well as one of my favorites for so many skills. If you follow the link to that blog post (the highlighted words, there's a freebie you can grab). 

I call it "Make a Rainbow" game, and it is great for assessing articulation carryover, perfect for basic reading comprehension, super for problem solving/reasoning, and just surprisingly challenging for all kids. The object of the game is to collect sticks that form the colors of a rainbow - which is why I love it for March but I use it year 'round. It's definitely worth the time and effort to put it together with a little paint and craft sticks.

You can grab the {free} cards in my store HERE

Another "staple" for articulation therapy (or any skill drill really) is roll and cover. We use the ever-popular magnetic tokens which kids love to clean up with a magic wand after. These are just one page in a big pack of speech and language activities for St. Patrick's Day

Here's another from that packet that is a "go-to" to send home for articulation homework around St. Patty's Day! 

Sooooo I am addicted to the foam beads that you can buy in bulk for every holiday and season (I happen to buy mine from Oriental Trading). Making a necklace out of these is always a BIG hit for each season. I attach yarn to a large plastic "needle." After little ones practice a skill or perform a task (or 2 or 3)  that I need them to do, they get to pick a foam beads to thread. It's simple and they love it. They can have as many beads as they earn (a cheap bag of these has around 1,000 beads so I let them have at it!!) Isn't this cute? They're a hit with the kids and the moms. 

I also love these St. Patrick sticker scenes from Oriental Trading. I use sticker scenes of all themes for my littlest ones. Again, they're great for busy hands and putting a sticker is immediately positive reinforcement of whatever skill we are working on. 

I can't forget the big kids. I LOVE doing language therapy with kids in 3rd-5th grades. Therapists at a primary school recently asked me to come help them with that population. Instead of going to advise, I asked to model therapy with a group of very unmotivated 4th graders. I knew I had to bring this packet of passages. 

The students started off with a "bad attitude;" one guy kept his head on the table. I just carried on and ignored that.  A couple of girls in the group got interested. Within 5 minutes even the two disconnected tough guys were fully engaged. I SWEAR.  NO KIDDING. 

When the session was over, they 2 SLPs were amazed. I explained to them that it WAS NOT ME. 
It was the content that pulled them in.  Our language kids HATE TO READ.  First, I did not make them read. I only had them listen and speak. Listening comprehension and speaking are the pre-requisites to reading comprehension and writing. When we build listening comp and speaking, we are building reading comp and writing, too. Secondly, I brought weird stuff for them to read.  
I firmly believe that if we have intriguing - and slightly wacky- content for reading and discussion, we reel these kids in.  Have you seen what they read in class?  It's often a snooze-fest. 

The secret is irresistible content. I swear by it. Engaged, interested students can learn.
These passages includes questions of all types including those that target inferencing, using evidence from the text to support answers, using context clues, comparing and contrasting, telling main idea, etc. The packet includes art and writing activities, too.
After reading each passage I reall like watching videos pertaining them when I can find them. That also helps boost engagement and spurs discussion.  
Find lots of high-interest, non-fiction reading HERE...

and this (strange but fun) packet of non-fiction passages all about lucky charms HERE

Lastly, I love love love a good open-ended game. Why? 
They're perfect for any skill and are life-savers for mixed groups.

This new addition to my St. Patty's therapy is an open-ended game called St. Patty's Cakes

Each child gets a card of the cupcakes he needs to throw his/her St. Patrick's Day party and has to pick cupcakes cards to find the one he/she needs. Like in all of my open ended games, there are wild cards that shake up the game!  The first person to collect all 5 cupcakes (or the most cupcakes if you run out of time) WINS! 

Friendly competition just makes this more fun and motivating, and of course, everyone loves cupcakes. This is what I'll be using this coming week! 

I hope you're walking away with some fun ideas for therapy during the month of March! 
If you want more you can read about more St. Patty's therapy HERE AND HERE (this one has a freebie!)

Thanks for stopping by and Happy St. Patrick's Day. Don't forget to wear your green! 


  1. OMG! You have the best ideas! My kids LOVE the Make a Rainbow Game, and, the St. Patty's Cakes??? FORGET ABOUT IT! They LOVED it! I'm going to steal your idea about the necklace. That is soooo great!

    1. Thanks bunches, Mary! That means a ton coming from a pro like you!


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