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Teaching Idioms in Speech Therapy (Ideas and Activities)

SLPs often address idioms in speech therapy! In this blog post, I’ll share some creative ways to teach and work on this figurative language skill in speech and language. I am also providing a list of idioms that you can use right now in your speech therapy session!

teaching idioms in speech therapy

Figurative Language Types

Idioms are a type of figurative language. Other types of figurative language include similes, metaphors, personification, and puns. Learn more about the different types of figurative language.

Why Teach Idioms?

Why do SLPs work on idioms in speech and language therapy in the first place? Idioms can be very confusing to our students who don’t understand non-literal meanings. Understanding idioms can be an important factor for “following along” while socializing with others. Idioms occur frequently in conversation. Therefore, they are an important aspect of communication to teach. Additionally, idioms and other figurative language types may be encountered in texts.

Seasonal Idioms to Teach in Speech Therapy

There are so many idioms you can work on in speech therapy! I love to incorporate the season when I am teaching idioms. Here are a few of my favorite idioms to target in speech therapy during each season.

Fall Idioms for Speech Therapy

  • shaking like a leaf
  • turn over a new leaf
  • the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
  • drive someone nuts
  • fall apart
  • fall through
  • apple of my eye
  • get wind of (something)

P.S. Your 4th and 5th grade students would love this Halloween Idioms activity!

Winter Idioms for Speech Therapy

  • dead of winter
  • be on thin ice
  • bundle up
  • give the cold shoulder
  • break the ice
  • snowball effect
  • cold-hearted
  • tip of the iceberg

Spring Idioms for Speech Therapy

  • spring into action
  • spring in her step
  • spring cleaning
  • come rain or shine
  • raining cats and dogs
  • take a rain check
  • when it rains it pours
  • egg on

Summer Idioms for Speech Therapy

  • soak up the sun
  • be in hot water
  • a drop in the ocean
  • oceans apart
  • beat the heat
  • fish for compliments
  • have bigger fish to fry
  • not so hot

Everyday Idioms to Teach in Speech Therapy

  • see eye to eye
  • call it a day
  • hit the nail on the head
  • hang in there
  • it’s not rocket science
  • live and learn
  • the ball is in your court
  • butterflies in my stomach

Fun Games to Teach Idioms in Speech Therapy

Do you need some fun game ideas for teaching idioms in speech therapy? Here are a few simple activities for speech therapists to use in therapy sessions!

Idiom Bean Bag Toss Game

Play a bean bag toss game- with an idioms twist! You can create your own “board” to toss bean bags on. This can be super simple. Just use a poster board, and write some idioms on it. I like to assign “points”, and see if my students can hit the circle or square where the idiom is written. Your student can define the idiom, then try to use the idiom in a sentence.

Idiom Obstacle Course

Get your students moving by creating an idiom-themed indoor obstacle course! Your students can hop, jump, crawl, and lift things while they work on idioms that pair with those activities.

For example, your student might first have to hop on one foot 5x before telling you that “hop, skip, and a jump” means a short distance away from something.

Next, they might jump from one location to the next while targeting an idiom like “jump on the bandwagon”.

Finally, if the obstacle course includes crawling, you might target an idiom like “you’ve got to learn to crawl before you can walk”.

Idiom Tic Tac Toe

This goes without saying, but tic tac toe is a super easy- and fun- way to work on idioms. Simply write the idioms you’d like to target inside the tic tac toe squares.

Make it even more fun, however, by adding special twists. I like to make giant tic-tac-toe boards out of construction paper strips. You could also use bingo daubers or play dough instead of simply marking an X or an O with pencils.

Idiom Connect 4

Turn your Connect 4 tokens into an easy idioms game! Write idioms directly onto the tokens. Each time your student takes a turn, he or she can explain the meaning of an idiom.

Story Read Aloud: Idiom Game

First, write some idioms on a piece of paper. Explain the meanings of the idioms to your students, and give examples. Then, find a silly book to read aloud together. You might choose something like Turkey Trouble or Pig the Pug. You might even choose a graphic novel.

Any story with pictures is especially great for this activity! As you’re reading, choose an idiom that might best pair with that scenario. For example, let’s say you’re working on the idiom ‘see eye to eye’. You could discuss how Pig the Pug doesn’t see eye to eye with the Weiner dog, Trevor, about a variety of issues. While reading Pig the Slob, you might explain what a ‘couch potato’ is prior to reading.

Your student also could be able to find idioms written in the text within the story! Whether they find idioms within the story or figure out ways that scenarios or characters can be described using targeted idioms, they can earn points.

Idiom Worksheets for Speech Therapy

Do you need some quick, grab ‘n go idiom worksheets for speech therapy? You’ll love these engaging, no prep printable idiom worksheets. If your speech therapy student has figurative language goals, this resource will provide speech therapists with an easy way to address a variety of idioms, including animal idioms, body idioms, sports idioms, food idioms, school/ education idioms, clothes idioms, heart idioms, medical idioms, weather idioms, home/ house idioms, outdoor/ nature idioms, number idioms, time idioms, travel idioms and music idioms.

Each idiom includes example sentences to cue your students and assist them with figuring out the idiom’s meaning. These worksheets are perfect for upper elementary and middle school speech therapy students.

More Speech Therapy Ideas for Upper Elementary and Middle School Students

Need some more ideas for working with 4th and 5th grade students? Check out how to do speech therapy with 4th and 5th graders, my favorite games for 4th and 5th graders, the best books for upper elementary, and my favorite speech therapy goals for 4th and 5th graders!

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