TherHappy Tips - Speech Therapy

Through our TherHappy Kids program, we have partnered with PS Kids Therapy to bring you a guest blog series, “TherHappy Tips.” These blogs will be filled with activities and exercises you can do at home to continue to build on the skills your child has been developing in therapy.      

This guest blog features speech therapy activities and is written by Christine Ciaravino, M.S. CCC-SLP, a speech therapist at PS Kids. Click here for our "TherHappy Tips - Occupational Therapy" blog and click here for our "TherHappy Tips - Physical Therapy" blog.

Looking for ways to keep the moment going with your child’s speech and language skills while at home? These speech activities are intended to be somewhat general in nature. They are naturally language rich and have a wide variety of applications. You can insert your work with speech sounds, following directions, describing things, answering questions, grammar, language concepts, taking turns, identifying vocabulary, expanding conversation, symbolic play, sequencing, etc. (I could go on and on) with several of these activities.

Remember - be mindful of the goals your child has been working on in therapy and meet them where they are!

  • Have some extra paper towel tubes?  Put them to use before recycling them and make them into binoculars for household hunts. Use them to hunt the articulation/speech cards your therapist gave to you. Use them to hunt for objects that start with the /b/ sound. Hide pieces of candy or other treasures like stickers around the house. Work on expressing spatial concepts by asking them where they found it (example: under the chair, behind my desk). Switch roles, and have your child hide something for you to find and have them give you verbal directions on how to find it. What else can you make out of a paper towel tube? I bet your child might have some ideas!
  • Cleaning out your closets, pantries, junk drawers? Don’t throw it away yet! See if you can use these items for dramatic play. I bet your child can think of lots of ways to use old dishes, dresses, bags, etc. for play. Help facilitate their creativity by saying, “I wonder what we could use this old pot for?” or suggest opening up an imaginary retail shop. Let their imaginations take you wherever they go. 
  • Bring back the pillow forts! Create one as a reading nook and bring in your flashlight. Older kids will be enticed to read and younger kids will love reading in there with you. Did your child find a new favorite? Help them recreate the story with crayons and paper, play dough, paint, or that new dramatic play set you put together from your discards. Have a show-and-tell after dinner so they can retell the story to the family. Video them and watch it again later. Do they want another take? How can they expand on their original version?    
  • Spend more time with books! If you are tired of reading the same ones, have someone from the Screen Actors Guild read a new one to your child online here.
  • Singing songs with your child is a great language builder. Make a visual to represent their favorite song. Print off a picture to represent the song and have your child color/decorate it. Now they can use these pictures to request their favorite song. 
  • Pick random objects from around the house, hide it in a bag, and play a guessing game. Give your child clues about the object you have inside and let them guess. The winner gets to choose the next object and give the clues.
  • Find a craft online and try to recreate it. Help your child problem solve. Didn’t turn out quite the way you thought? Great! Talk about how your project looks different. Why do you think it looks different? Would you change anything? If so, what?
  • Science experiments are a lot of fun to try at home.  Click here for a website with some examples of things you can try with your household items. Have your child help select an experiment that you approve of. Talk about the materials you will need, take pictures of the steps in your process so you can review it later, and make predictions! What do you think will happen? Why? Use the pictures you took to work on sequencing the steps and to talk about the process. 
  • Play in your yard. What kinds of trees, plants, flowers, bugs, birds, etc. can you find? Take a picture and describe it. Put the description in a web search to see if you can find the same one online. See what new things you can learn about it. 
  • Find a new recipe or have your child help you with making lunch or dessert. Make a plan before you start (What tools do you need? What ingredients do you need?). Cooking together is a great way to work on following directions, answering questions, concepts (wet, dry), organizing, and working together.
  • Play board games, ask each other a social question before each turn. Here are some conversation starters you can try. Try it out at dinner time too.  
  • Take turns making up “Would you rather….” questions. (Can you ask using your good /r/ sound?) These kinds of questions can lead to some interesting conversations. For example, “Would you rather sleep on a bed of rocks or a bed of slime?” The possibilities are endless! 
  • Get on the floor and play with your child. Take out the blocks, cars, dolls, farm animals and set them up on the floor.  Create a farm scene for the animals, a city block for the cars, or a nursery for the dolls.  Use things around the house to make it a whole new experience playing with those familiar objects. 

Looking for additional resources related to speech and language development? Click here for what to expect by grade levels kindergarten through 5th. And click here for ways to encourage speech and language development in ages birth through six years old.

- Christine Ciaravino, M.S. CCC-SLP

Please remember that these are tips, exercises and activities to use at home to supplement your child’s speech therapy visits. They are not meant to replace these vital sessions.

Variety St. Louis is committed to providing Variety Kids with uninterrupted access to vital therapy services, especially during the difficult times surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. If your child’s therapist is providing telehealth sessions, we may be able to assist with the cost. Find more information and fill out our financial assistance application here and contact Variety Health Services Associate Carolyn Smith-Wooten via email for more details.