Are you a speech-language pathologist looking for speech therapy activities for preschoolers? This article contains tons of effective activities and speech therapy ideas that will motivate young children to work on a variety of goals. It includes tips for engaging preschoolers during speech therapy sessions, as well as ideas for movement, sensory play, and recommended toys, books, and activities. If you are a preschool SLP, make sure to bookmark this post!
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5 Quick Tips for Engaging Preschoolers in Speech Therapy
Here are 5 ways to help keep younger children engaged during your speech therapy sessions!
- Move around a lot. Don’t expect to sit at a table the entire time with this age group! I move with my students from the floor to the table to the hallway- whatever works.
- Plan hands-on activities and sensory play! Hiding word cards in a sensory bin, for example, is a good way to keep this age group engaged!
- Want to read a favorite book? Try having your students hold something in their hands- like a fidget, or play dough- during the read-aloud. And you also might want to check out some interactive books (such as Don’t Push the Button).
- Try using interactive games that are quick and easy to play in order to keep a child’s attention. Check out this list of my favorite games for younger students.
- Many children love music! Try incorporating a favorite song in your speech therapy sessions. This can also be a fun way to work on many simple sounds.
Movement Ideas for Speech Therapy
Little bodies need to move!
The good news is, exercise and movement are linked to increase academic performance.
Now, I realize you’re not going to try to get your student to run a mile in speech.
But speech-language pathologists could try incorporating simple movement activities into speech therapy sessions.
Here are some engaging ways to do that:
- Stand up! Simply standing instead of sitting down at a table can be an easy way to accomplish this goal.
- Try pairing yoga with a speech-language activity.
- Pretend to move like an animal! Waddle or hop around the room while trying to imitate specific animal movements.
- Toss or roll a ball back and forth while practicing target words.
- Set up a simple obstacle course in your speech therapy room.
- Take a much-needed brain break and play a favorite song! Your student can dance to the beat.
- Check out these exercise dice! They’re fun to toss around, and your students will have a good time completing the suggested movements.
- Try a game of hopscotch to target single words or language skills!
- Hide familiar objects or articulation picture cards around the room for a hide-and-seek activity.
- Pair lots of hand movements and hand gestures with nursery rhymes such as the itsy bitsy spider. Need ideas? Check out this book. It’s always a good idea to work on imitating motor movements with our speech and language students! After all, communication involves imitating others.
- Try a scavenger hunt! For example, if working with a child who has a language delay, you might give prompts such as “find something in the room that we use to color with” while targeting object function.
Sensory Play Ideas for Speech Therapy
Why try sensory play? Sensory experiences offer young children the chance to explore the world around them and expose them to different textures, while simultaneously offering opportunities to increase speech, receptive and expressive language, and fine motor skills.
A sensory bin can offer so much excitement!
I like to hide articulation pictures or objects in a sensory bin for my students to find.
You can use a clear plastic container for the bin.
Sensory bin fillers can include things like rice, beans, pasta, oats, shredded paper, and sand.
Theraputty with Mini Objects
A fantastic intervention specialist I used to work with loved using theraputty! She hid mini objects in it for the children to find.
Speech pathologists might enjoy this farm animals theraputty set.
Play dough offers an engaging (and easy) sensory activity!
You can incorporate play dough easily in speech therapy sessions.
For example, your students might smash play dough on a target word using this snake sound activity.
Board Games for Preschool Speech Therapy
Looking for the best way to entertain a small group in a preschool speech therapy session?
I love using board games.
The easier they are to play, the better!
We can simply practice a target word, then take a turn at the game.
Check out my favorite board games for younger students.
4 Easy Games to Play with Preschoolers
Need a simple game to use during your therapy session today? Here are 4 simple speech therapy activities that you can try- and you likely already have the toys or materials in your room!
- Kids love to play “feed the” activities. Why not get small trash cans with flippable lids and decorate them like little monsters?
- Have some sort of fun box or container lying around? My students love stuffing objects or articulation cards into boxes or puppets.
- Play a game of hide-and-seek! Whenever you’re “found”, your student can also find a target word to practice! Or, just hide the target words around the room for your student to find!
- Play a bean bag toss game!
Best Children’s Books for Speech Therapy
Books are an engaging way to target speech and language skills during a speech therapy session!
While some preschool students may be able to sit still and listen to longer stories- many may not yet have that ability.
Engaging picture books and interactive books are the answer.
I love using these 4 books for preschool speech therapy:
- Yummy, Yucky by Leslie Patricelli
- Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
- Don’t Push the Button! by Bill Cotter
- Talk with Me! The Big Book of Exclamations 2 by Teri Peterson
The listed books could also be used in early intervention speech therapy.
Also, check out even more great ideas for children’s books for speech therapy.
Best Toys for Preschool Speech Therapy Sessions
The best type of toys for your speech therapy session includes ones that are engaging- but not too distracting- for your speech therapy students!
Since this can involve a lot of trial and error, I’m listing a few of my personal favorite toys in the hopes that you’ll find some that will engage your students.
I’m also going to point out that I am intentionally including toys that are more suited for cause-and-effect and sensory exploration. Speech therapists work with students who have a variety of diagnoses, which may include but is not limited to, Autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and Developmental Delay.
Please note: some children may also not be ready to play with traditional, store-bought toys.
11 Toys for Preschool Speech Therapy
- Pop Up Pals– this toy requires a child to turn, press, flip, or slide the buttons in order to get the animals to pop up! Students with speech delays can also work on imitating simple animal sounds after getting the different objects to pop up.
- Pound and Roll– this toy is a fun activity that allows a child to hit a ball with a toy hammer and watch it roll down the chute. New vocabulary can easily be targeted with this toy!
- Ball Dispenser Toy– this gumball dispenser toy is going to be a hit with your speech therapy students! The child can turn the key and then watch the ball roll down the chute. Toys like this offer creative ways to target core vocabulary.
- This colorful fisher-price piano is a motivating way to work on cause-and-effect, simple language, and early sounds.
- Magna-Tiles provide magnetic colorful building blocks that encourage imagination and social interaction with peers! Children can build a tower together, or build their own individual structures.
- Bubbles! Every pediatric SLP knows that bubbles can provide a simple way to motivate young children.
- These sensory tube toys could be a fun addition to your therapy materials collection.
- Potato Head is a classic favorite of speech therapists, so it had to make the list! I love to work on core vocabulary while playing with this toy.
- Stacking cups can provide a fun way to work on new words such as up, more, and on.
- This Wooden Lacing Apple Threading Toy could be a great way to target new vocabulary- especially if the child needs to request a little help threading the worm through any holes!
- You’ll definitely want a popper toy to motivate your preschool students!
Speech Therapy Sessions for Apraxia of Speech
Working with a preschooler with apraxia of speech goals who just won’t sit still?
It can be challenging to keep the attention of preschool students at the best of times- but this article provides some fun and effective ways to target apraxia of speech goals with your busy preschool students!
6 Speech Therapy Activities for Preschoolers
These are my favorite preschool speech therapy activities to increase speech and language development.
They target a variety of articulation, phonology, and language goals.
Minimal Pairs for Phonology
If you’re working with preschoolers, there’s a high likelihood you’ll have phonology students on your caseload!
Simply print out the page you need.
I prefer to laminate mine and pair them with play dough or a magnetic wand and chips.
Each page includes an auditory bombardment list, mouth visuals, and 6 minimal pair targets.
Snake Sound Play Dough Smash Mats
There’s literally no better to target the snake sound while working on a child’s speech development!
These mini s-blend smash mats are in the shape of a snake, so your students will remember to say their target sounds!
Lots of colorful pictures are included on each snake, so your student will be able to practice 5 target words before smashing play dough.
The following s-blends and consonant clusters are included in this fun activity:
- initial, medial, and final sk
- sl initial, sl medial and final
- initial sm words
- sn initial
- initial sp
- final sp words
- st initial and final
- initial sw
- skr initial
- skw initial
- str initial
It is very simple to set up this activity. Print, laminate, and cut out the snake cards.
Then, attach them together using a binder ring.
Data collection is a breeze with this fun activity!
Weak Syllable Deletion Cards
Work on producing multisyllabic words with these weak syllable deletion cards!
Your students will be very excited as they successfully learn to produce “bigger” words.
Each word is broken down with clear visuals to help your student correctly produce the word in chunks.
Pair this fun activity with a magnetic wand and chips or play dough!
Speech Sound Mouth Cards
These speech sound mouth cards will become a go-to in your therapy room!
To assemble them, first print, laminate, and cut out the cards.
Next, attach them together using a binder ring.
These articulation cards are unique because each set contains a mouth visual to assist with the correct production of the target sound.
Carrier Phrases with Core Vocabulary
Both speech-language pathologists and special education teachers will love these carrier phrases with core vocabulary.
This resource provides a simple way to target expanding utterances in the classroom or therapy room using core vocabulary.
Many functional phrases are included that can be used throughout a child’s day.
For example, speech therapists may wish to model the phrase “put it on” while a child is completing a potato toy activity.
Alternatively, switch to the “make it go” sentence strip while playing with toy cars!
Themed Preschool Language Worksheets
How about trying these themed language activities with your preschool students?
Learn new words related to each theme!
For example, your student might enjoy answering wh-questions while coloring in dinosaur footprints.
This article suggested the best speech therapy activities to try using with your preschool speech students, including:
- Minimal Pairs for Phonology
- Snake Sound Activity
- Weak Syllable Deletion Cards
- Speech Sound Mouth Cards
- Carrier Phrases with Core Vocabulary
- Themed Preschool Language Worksheets