Need some ideas for grammar goals for speech therapy? If you’re feeling stuck, keep on reading! In this post, I’ll provide some suggestions you could use for writing iep goals for grammar and sentence structure. Think of this blog post as an informal goal bank- one you can use to get some ideas for goal writing. Not only that, but I’ll also share some strategies for language intervention.
The important thing to remember is that grammar and syntax are very important areas to target in your therapy room (or classroom, if you do push-in therapy). This is because grammar and syntax affect reading comprehension. Children with language disorders on your caseload will likely need explicit and intentional instruction in this area. P.S. Read this blog post to see speech goals for 4th and 5th graders.
As a reminder: you know your student best and will want to individualize all goals and make them measurable. This is really an “informal iep goal bank of ideas”. These goal ideas are simply intended to help get your creative juices flowing. Feel free to modify or expand on them. In fact, please do!
If you need help writing a measurable goal, you may want to read about the SMART framework. Smart goals are specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, and time-bound. You’ll need to decide on factors like what % progress will be measured, how many consecutive sessions you would like your student to demonstrate that percentage, and by what date you’d like your student to achieve this goal.
To read more about writing measurable IEP smart goals using the SMART framework, read this article from n2y.com.
The Areas of Grammar
Do you feel like you need a quick grammar review? This article explains more about the five areas of grammar, which include:
- word order
- tense and aspect
Reference: The 5 Fundamental Elements of English Grammar. (2021). Retrieved 13 June 2022, from https://www.englishcollege.com/what-5-elements-grammar
Grammatical Parts of Speech
Speech pathologists are language experts- but we aren’t English teachers! It’s super helpful to have a quick “go to” reference for the 8 grammatical parts of speech. You can access that article here.
- noun (person, place, thing, idea)
- pronoun (a word used in place of a noun)
- verb (action or state of being)
- adjective (a modifier that describes a noun or a pronoun, such as pretty)
- adverb (a modifier that describes a verb, adjective, or another adverb)
- preposition (a word placed before a noun or a pronoun in order to form a phrase)
- conjunction (joins words, phrases, and clauses together)
- interjection (a word that expresses emotion)
Reference: The Eight Parts of Speech- TIPS Sheets- Butte College. (2022). Retrieved 13 June 2022, from http://www.butte.edu/departments/cas/tipsheets/grammar/parts_of_speech.html#:~:text=There%20are%20eight%20parts%20of,as%20grammatically%20within%20the%20sentence.
Verb Tense Review
Do you need a reminder on the different verb tenses? If so, I like this article. There are present, past, and future verb tenses. Verb tense tells us when the action happens. Each of these 3 “main” tenses can be broken down into further components, including simple, continuous, perfect, and perfect continuous.
Speech pathologists often work on verb tense with school-age children.
Reference: Verb Tenses: How to Use The 12 English Tenses with Useful Tenses Chart (2018). Retrieved 13 June 2022, from https://7esl.com/verb-tenses/
Conjunctions Review for SLPs
I wanted to make sure you had a quick reference for conjunctions as well!
I explain that conjunctions are words that join sentences or sentence parts together to my students.
Here are the types of conjunctions:
- coordinating conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, so, yet)
- correlative conjunctions (coordinating conjunctions that work as a pair, such as both…and)
- subordinating conjunctions (conjunctions that tell us about cause and effect, time, condition, or concessions)
How I Write IEP Goals for Younger Children
Younger students can- and SHOULD- work on grammar and syntax, too! Verbs are a great place to start when targeting expressive language. In fact, research tells us that focusing on “harder” verbs may be more effective. Therefore, I not only work on labeling verbs in therapy, but I also address grammatical morphemes. I additionally believe that exposure to a variety of sentence structures and sentence types (interrogative, negative sentences, interrogative sentences) during speech therapy sessions is very important.
We can use intervention strategies with young children in language therapy such as direct teaching, modeling, expansion, verbal prompts to use the grammatical target, and recasts.
If you need a quick review, morphemes are the smallest unit of language. There are grammatical morphemes (such as a plural -s ending) and derivational morphemes (prefixes and suffixes).
Early grammatical morphemes can include present progressive -ing (i.e. eating), plural -s (i.e. shoes), prepositions (in, on), possessive ‘s’ (i.e. mommy’s bag), regular past tense -ed, articles, and conjunctions. For a more comprehensive list of grammatical morphemes, see this chart from ASHA.
Our speech goals for grammar and syntax should involve encouraging young children to use more morphemes to create longer utterances. When we don’t use morphemes, the result is telegraphic speech. (Reference: Pence, Khara L. “Building Blocks of Language.” Language Development From Theory To Practice,” Pearson Education, Inc. , Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2008, pp. 82–101.)
It’s also important to remember that to work on grammatical endings, our students must be able to SAY the required speech sounds. This will likely mean explicit instruction in articulation, which I why I am including articulation goals in this list.
Grammar Goals for Speech Therapy (Preschoolers):
- label actions or pictured actions during play-based activities
- use grammatical markers (i.e. verb + ing) to describe actions or pictured actions
- use present progressive verbs (verb +ing) to describe actions
- create simple sentences using 2-3 word utterances (i.e. agent + action) to show a variety of communicative intents
- express negation (no, can’t, won’t, don’t) in utterances or simple sentences of 2-3 words in length
- ask questions (wh questions, yes- no questions) during play
- use early prepositions (in, on) in simple sentences
- use grammatical markers (i.e. possessive ‘s: the cat’s toy) in sentences
- create complex sentences using conjunctions (i.e. and)
- create spoken sentences containing embedded prepositional phrases
- label common objects using grammatical endings (i.e. plural ‘s ending: toys)
- correctly produce final consonant clusters to indicate a past tense grammatical ending (i.e. /t/, /d/, “id”)
- correctly produce final consonants and/ or final consonant clusters to mark plurals
- correctly produce final consonant clusters to mark possessive ‘s’ grammatical endings
How I Write IEP Goals for School Age Children
What are some good grammar goals for speech therapy with school age children? By the way, I discussed my speech goals for 4th and 5th graders earlier. This blog post, however, specifically is focusing on grammar goals and syntax goals. I’ve already discussed that I feel like it is super important to include morphology in expressive language intervention. That’s why you’ll specifically see some goals devoted to grammatical morphemes and derivational morphemes.
I think there is a huge importance, as well, in teaching our students how to pronounce grammatical endings (especially for past tense and plurals).
Our students also need to know how these grammatical endings will look in print.
For structured language activities that target past tense verbs and morphology, you can check out this grammar program. If you need a resource that addresses a variety of grammar and complex syntax targets for older children, be sure to look into the Entire Year of Grammar and Sentence Structure program.
Grammar Goals for Speech Therapy: School Age Children
- correctly pronounce past tense -ed verbs (sounds like /t/, sounds like /d/, sounds like “id”)
- sort base verbs by the correct past tense suffix ending (d or ed)
- identify the base and suffix within words (i.e. dance/d)
- create the past tense form of a verb by adding a suffix (d or ed)
- use regular past tense verbs at the sentence level to describe actions or pictured actions
- correctly pronounce plural -s nouns (sounds like /s/, sounds like /z/, sounds like “is”)
- retell a short story using transitional words
- explain cause and effect about a picture or story event using causal conjunctions
- use irregular past tense verbs in sentences to describe actions or pictured actions
- sort words into correct piles based on part of speech (i.e. noun vs verb)
- identify parts of speech or sentence parts within sentences
- complete sentence fill-in tasks using targeted parts of speech or sentence parts
- arrange scrambled words into meaningful sentences
- complete spoken/ written sentences using relative clauses
- create a sentence about a picture using a targeted coordinating conjunction
- finish spoken sentence starters using targeted subordinating conjunctions
- use a target word (i.e. adjective) to describe a picture
- add modifiers (i.e. adjectives, adverbs) to spoken/ written sentences
- join sentences or sentence parts together using a target conjunction (coordinating, subordinating) or conjunction pair (correlative)
- create a complex sentence about a picture when provided with a target conjunction
- choose the correct modifier (ie. adjective, adverb) to correctly complete a sentence
- when provided with a dependent clause (i.e. Although I studied…), generate an independent clause to finish the sentence
- create a compound sentence about a picture using a targeted coordinating conjunction
How I Teach Past Tense Verbs in Speech Therapy
In this video, I explain exactly how I teach regular past tense verbs in speech therapy. As I’ve mentioned throughout this post, I like to make sure I’m also addressing morphology. Past tense verbs can be very tricky for our students to figure out. That’s why I like to take a structured approach and really break things down. I make sure to explain what the past tense suffix endings look like and what they mean. We practice sorting verb cards by suffix ending. After that, we practice pronouncing the verbs. I explain the rules for pronouncing past tense verbs to my students. Check out the Past Tense Verbs Program to see how it will be beneficial for your speech therapy students.
- when the base word ends with a voiceless sound, -ed or -d sounds like /t/ (example: laughed)
- when the base word ends with a voiced sound, -ed or -d sounds like /d/ (example: waved)
- when a base word ends with a /t/ or a /d/, -ed or -d sounds like “id” (example: painted)
Addressing Grammar Goals for Speech Therapy Using a Communication Device
Many students in special education may require some sort of aided communication. Whether they are using a communication board or a communication device, be sure to provide that student with access to increasing morphology, grammar, and syntax. This means that it’s a good idea to ensure that a communication system contains grammatical endings, for example. Often, communication boards contain core vocabulary. Core vocabulary is very important, of course. However, we want to increase language skills and help our students share information. To encourage the student to increase utterance length and overall communication skills, they need access to more than just single words. They also need access to grammatical morphemes, derivational morphemes, and grammatical parts of speech, to name just a few things.
My 10 Favorite Resources for Grammar in Speech Therapy
Here is a list of my favorite resources to work on grammar and sentence structure skills in speech and language or special education. These resources are wonderful for the school setting. They can be used in individual therapy sessions or small group.
- Entire Year of Grammar and Sentence Structure (Grades 2-3)
- Entire Year of Grammar and Sentence Structure (Grades 4-5)
- Entire Year of Grammar and Sentence Structure (BUNDLE)
- Regular Past Tense Verbs Program
- Regular and Irregular Nouns Program
- Relative Clauses (Worksheets)
- Causal Conjunctions (Complex Sentences)
- Coordinating Conjunctions
- Subordinating Conjunctions
- Creating Sentences with Conjunctions (Upper Elementary or Middle School)
The Entire Year of Grammar and Sentence Structure
I realize how overwhelming teaching grammar and syntax can be for any speech language pathologist! While I was working with my 4th and 5th graders, I realized I needed a better system for teaching grammar and sentence structure. There’s so much to cover- so, where to start? I realized my language kids simply needed to start with the basics and work their way up. We needed solid visual cues. We needed a system that would start with the basics before moving to compound sentences and complex sentences.
If you’re looking for an organized, effective approach to use in speech, then you’re in the right place! The Entire Year of Grammar and Sentence Structure provides you with a structured activity and lesson to use each week with your students. Try the first lesson here.
You don’t need to “re-learn” everything grammar. SLPs are too busy for that! Spend less time stressing and more time enjoying therapy. This handy program provides you with everything you need to jump in and get started.
The Basic Grammar Program
The Basic Grammar Program addresses areas of concern such as morphology and grammar. This program specifically focuses on teaching regular past tense verbs (-d and -ed) and regular and irregular plurals. Your students will start with the basics. They will learn what the past tense suffixes (-ed, d) and plural suffixes (-s, -es) mean. They will practice sorting words by suffix for increased understanding. Your student will work on pronouncing the suffixes correctly once they have been added to a base word. You can practice creating new words by adding a suffix to a base word to work on morphology. Finally, this program is also unique because it addresses spelling. This will help your student make the “speech to print” connection.
Grammar Worksheets to work on Grammar Goals in Speech Therapy
Do you need grammar worksheets to address specific areas of concern?
Clauses are an important area to address with our students. For students working on relative clauses, these worksheets come with a built-in “scaffolding of skills” support. In addition, they will make your upper elementary students smile as they create “silly” (and sometimes “gross”) sentences.
If you need a structured activity to work on cause and effect conjunctions, your students will love this conjunctions resource. It pairs perfectly with a magnetic wand and chips.
Finally, your older students will love this creating sentences using conjunctions activity. The pictures are not “childish” and are designed to be used with older students. Excellent examples are provided on every page.