One of my favorite themes (and my first theme) was camping. The kids really seemed to enjoy it too. It was a great theme because the kids had some awareness of what camping was - even if they simply knew what a tent or sleeping bag looked like. First, I started off by creating a bulletin board of a tent (really simple - cut out a triangle of butcher paper, cut it down the middle, and staple the flaps up. The other things in the scene - all from butcher paper - a camp fire, tree, grass, sky) to help decorate the room. Then, I collected up some books that involved camping and displayed them around the room. Next came the bulk of the work. I created activities, articulation word lists, vocabulary lists, sequence cards dealing with camping themes, flashcards, etc.
- Camping themed choose game - (see blog post from September 23 for directions to make the choose game and how to play). This was a great game because it introduced a few vocabulary words (hiker/camper, backpack, tent, campfire, boots, and sleeping bag). Plus, you can use the game simply as a game, but target other areas.
- Articulation word lists - I compiled as many camping/hiking related words and created articulation word lists to try to use as many themed words as possible when working with the kids. I also created flash cards of those words. They really loved it.
- Vocabulary word lists - Do you have kids with goals for increasing vocabulary? I always had kids with this goal and so I made the vocabulary words from the theme and would track if they learned the vocabulary words. Of course, it's always best to also target things they are learning in class. Therefore, I tried to combine them. Do you have kids who are working on naming the function of an item, part-whole relationship, or grouping items? Your vocabulary word lists will be useful here as well.
- Vocabulary books - I created books with the vocabulary words that were simple line drawings (printed from internet). The kids would put the books together and color them while others were doing work. It was a great "take home" project for them.
- Camping BINGO - BINGO was always a hit with the kids! This was BINGO with camping words on each square.
- Camping Board Game - I took a blank file folder game and drew out a game board with a camping theme. There were spaces like "Return for a picnic lunch - go back to the picnic table" or "Made smores. Move ahead 1 space".
- Sequencing cards - I got pictures from Google Images and made my own sequencing cards! I tried to pick things that would tie in with camping (building a campfire, making a smore, packing your bag, building a tent, etc).
- Figurative Language - I always tried to pick figurative language (idioms, metaphors, etc) that corresponded with the theme. One of the kids' favorite idioms from this theme was - "bear with us". It was a stretch, but they liked it!
- Matching game - it's easy to make a matching game since you've already created flashcards from the articulation and vocabulary words. Simply make a second set of flashcards and play "memory".
- Coloring pages - I printed coloring pages with a camping theme for kids to enjoy while other kids in the group were working.
- Grammar focus - I would use the books to work on grammar. I would often re-write a sentence on a slip of paper and tape it to a page. I would either leave a blank or make an error that focused on the child's goal. That was great because the child could lift up the the sentence I had re-written to check the answer.
- Themed Party Day - at the end of the theme, we'd have a "party" in speech. We used the 3:1 model and so I scheduled it during my indirect therapy week. We read one of the camping books and made smores (in the microwave).
Themed therapy can be a lot of work to create the materials. However, the kids love it and it can give you some focus for language activities. When I started teaching at the deaf school, I had a lot of materials already created and was able to re-use a lot of it!
If you are working with your child at home, then you could create themed months! It may give your child that extra motivation to work with you during their speech time.