Stress-Free Holiday Speech Therapy
The holiday season can be stressful enough without worrying about continuing to fit speech therapy into busy schedules. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to help kids continue to get some speech practice during winter break, even if therapy services may be on hold because of scheduling conflicts or because school isn’t in session. Here are a few fun ideas that can help provide opportunities for practice without making parents seem like a Scrooge. Plus, enter your email address to get the flashcards pictured here sent free to your inbox!
Origami Star Craft with Flashcards
These origami stars are the perfect level of easy to make so you don’t have to fold that carefully meets just hard enough that you think “wow, I did origami.” Plus, getting kids to sit down and fold stars can take just a few minutes, or an hour or longer if they’re into it, so it can work well regardless of if you’re an SLP seeing kids for private sessions over break, or a parent looking for a way to get your kids to focus quietly on something for an extended period of time.
First, start with two different colored sheets of square paper. Thin paper works best if you don’t have origami paper on hand.
Then, fold each sheet in half.
Unfold the sheets and fold each edge in to meet at the center, where the crease was made.
Fold in half again. Lay the two pieces of folded paper next to each other, with the folds closest together.
Fold the inner top corners down.
Fold the outer lower corners up.
Next, fold the upper and lower points to create two triangles by aligning the edges along the sides of the paper.
Flip one of the sheets over so the sides with the two triangles are facing away from each other. Then, fold the corners to tuck the points under the triangles of the other sheet. In this picture, you see the yellow sheets folded and tucked under the checkered paper.
Flip over the star and fold the second sheet’s points into the folds of the other colored paper.
If you’re a parent and your child has a speech homework folder, you can have him or her repeat words after you from one of their word lists while they’re folding. Alternatively, if they’re working on /r/, sign up for our resource mailing list to get free “er” flashcards! Glue flashcards to the completed stars and hang them on a garland or make them into ornaments for added crafting!
Family Games to Promote Speech and Language Practice
There are so many games that are fun for the whole family that encourage talking and language formulation. Games like CatchPhrase, Apples to Apples, and Taboo for Kids all require kids to practice talking without realizing they're practicing. This is great if your child struggles with language formulation or word finding, and is also great as a platform to practice speech sound skills if your child is ready to practice their sound in sentences (sometimes if they just started learning a sound it's too hard to expect them to be able to do it in a full sentence). If they are ready for this level, I would encourage using this kind of activity as an opportunity for positive reinforcement. Often, it’s easy to fall into a mindset of needing to correct kids to get them to learn their new sounds. However, it's even better if we can train ourselves as adults to be good enough listeners that we notice when they make their sounds the right way and praise them for it. A simple "great /d/ sound when you said "dad!" goes a long way to boosting a child's self-confidence and feeling of ownership for improving their speech. With enough praise making them feel like speech is something they're good at, you may find that they're actually happy to sit down for a 10 or 15 minute word list practice session.
Speech Scavenger Hunt
A speech scavenger hunt is a great way to help keep your kids thinking about speech goals at home. Keep a running list somewhere easy to access, like the refrigerator or on a note pad somewhere easy to grab, and write their target sound at the top. Then, encourage them to listen or look for words that have their target sound throughout the day. Aim for one a day, or one a week, whatever you think you can manage. If you're reading, or talking, or out and about and see the letter on the sign, call their attention to it and make a mental note to write it down on the list. See how many words you can "collect." This is super low pressure and can be a lot of fun for preschool and school aged kids. It helps remind them that there's a point to working on their sounds--we use them all day every day! And, as a bonus, it can be a great way to encourage letter-sound awareness and literacy skills, particularly for young children or kids who are struggling with this concept.