The plan here is to have a fairly comprehensive list of language therapy ideas listed by skill area. It can, and hopefully will, be added to periodically.
Homework maker: Create a list of from five to ten words at student’s level. Write directions such as the following: “Provide a function for each vocabulary word.” Write helper next to a blank line for any helper to sign. Provide individualized incentives for completed return. For example:
Catalog. Get out a catalog. Talk about why people buy the items for sale in that catalog.
Example statements: “Why would somebody want a coat?” “It keeps you warm”. “Why do people buy wallets?”
Textbook. Get out a textbook. Instruct student to describe vocabulary words at or below student’s level by using functions.
Example statements: “What was a covered wagon?”“It was used to shelter pioneers during long trips.” “What is the Constitution?”
Look around you. Describe functions of objects in your environment or of things commonly seen in offices. Take a walk, and describe functions of things seen in the hall out the window, etc.
Example statements: “What is a stapler?” “It attaches papers together.” “What is a trash dumpster?” “It holds the building’s trash until the garbage men get it.”
Specific interests. For example, for younger kids, talk about video games, television, or sports, or for older students talk about cooking, construction, or health care. Discuss
specific interests. Use the internet if needed.
Example statements: “What does a cutting board do?” “What does a remote do?” “What do anesthesiologists do?”
Role play: you are helping to plan the menu for a new restaurant. You’re in charge of the dessert (or something else). Or, you are describing where you live. Use categories to describe the city, state, province, country, the form of government, etc.
Example statements: “Let’s serve apple pie, cookies, chocolate cake, and ice cream.” or “I live in St. Louis. It’s a city, like New York. We live in a state called Missouri, like California is a state.”
Use categories to decide who goes first in an activity. Think of a category member. Each person takes turns guessing the category member. Whoever guesses (or gets closest) the correct member goes first.
Example statements: “I’m thinking of a month. You guys keep guessing months until somebody guesses the one I’m thinking of. Whoever gets closest or guesses it first goes first.
Team up: With category pictures or word cards, have students divide into teams, e.g. the liquids and the insects team (or the “Wet Bugs”) versus the mammals and planets team (or the “Hairy Planets”). Play a memory game. Alternately, simply see what team can be the first to get to 5, or 10 after the instructor picks cards from a pile.
Blurting game: Blurt out category members one at a time. If a team members states that’s mine before the other team states that’s theirs, they get a point.
Tic Tac Toe
Require students to label categories before placing their X’s and O’s. The winner in this example is the first to get four in a row. For variety and target specificity, create your own, or create with students.
Magazines. Search for curriculum relevant categories that you’d expect to find in magazines, like liquids, capital letters, etc. Use these pictures for category card activities. Search for category names or names of members to find pictures. Cut and paste on a document, and print out when document is full. Glue onto index cards and/or laminate if desired.
Clauses/Phrases/Expanding Sentence Length
“Say More!”, an embedding activity:
Directions: Squeeze the following sentence parts into already existing sentences to make them “say more.”
Example #1 sentence parts: with the beautiful hat, that had hopped all the way from the swing, next to the piece of paper, after finding the critical clue
- The girl was riding a bike.
- The pencil rolled on my desk.
- There was a frog on the slide.
- The detective determined the identity of the burglar.
Example #2 sentence parts: instead of a period, when the boy was surprised, that the Governor should be impeached, between the words “if” and “you”
- I don’t agree with the politician’s opinion.
- Our teacher told us to write an exclamation point at the
- end of the sentence.
- The comma should be removed.
Role playing: For example, ordering a meal at a fast food restaurant with extras and/or without some condiments.
Example statements: “I would like a hamburger with extra ketchup and no mustard.” “I would like a drink with no ice.”
Explain the rules of a game, using conjunctions or relative pronouns. Write down the words ahead of time, and cross off as used.
Example statements: “Decide who goes first before you start.” “You can pick up the card that the other person laid down.”
Comparatives and Superlatives
Tell me… Use comparisons familiar to student to ask comparing questions. For example,
- Tell me what’s bigger: a car or a bike. Expected answer: (A car is bigger than a bike.)
- Tell me what’s quieter: a library or a gym. (A library is quieter than a gym.)
- Tell me what’s colder: Alaska or Florida. (Alaska is colder than Florida.)
- Tell me what’s drier: a desert or a jungle. (A desert is drier than a jungle.)
- Tell me what’s more expensive: a house or a candy bar. (A house is more expensive than a candy bar.)
- Tell me what’s more delicious: liver or spaghetti. (Spaghetti is more delicious than liver.)
- Tell me who the tallest person in your family is. My cousin Joe is the tallest person in my family
- Tell me what the biggest planet is. Jupiter is the biggest planet.
- Tell me who your best friend is. Priscilla is my best friend.
- Tell me the most nutritious food that you can think of. Broccoli is the most nutritious food that I can think of.
Discuss world records, such as those in the Guinness Book of World Records. For example, “Where is the biggest piece of string in the world? Who is the best selling singer of all time?
Ask “why” questions. Use both questions that are familiar to student as well as ones that are personally relevant. Require the use of comparatives and superlatives. For example: “Why don’t you like classical music instead of rock and roll?” “Because rock and roll is better than classical.” “Why can’t your little brother beat you in a race?”
Go on a scavenger hunt. Write a list of target comparatives and/or superlatives to find. See who can get the most. For example, Find: the longest hall, someone taller than me, something heavier than a desk, the most confusing poster, etc.
Discuss “what ifs” using comparatives and superlatives. These are situations where things could be different What if pencils were longer than cars? What if hammers were softer than tissue paper?
Look in a cookbook. Identify conjunctions. Follow directions in a recipe. Talk about the conjunctions used.
Example Statements: “Put the ingredients in a bowl before mixing them together.” “Mix the ingredients until all the lumps are gone.”
Talk about some games’ rules. Talk about reasons for the rules using conjunctions.
Example Statements: “You collect two hundred dollars when you pass go.” “The other team gets the ball whenever there’s an interception.” “If another piece is diagonal to yours, you can jump that piece, and then take it.”
Use an atlas. Instruct students to give directions to places they want to visit. Or, you could use Google Maps, street view, and have one student direct another with conjunctions.
Example Statements: “Get on highway 16 after you cross the state line.” “Turn left before 31st street.” “Go north for twenty miles and drive until you see the exit for Pomona Falls.” “Keep going until the end of the street. Then turn right so we can see what’s over there.”
Give common explanations, such as for crossing the street, wearing warm clothes in the winter, not quitting when you’re behind, taking care of your belongings, etc.
Example Statements: “Wait until the sign says walk.” “Walk across the crosswalk after the sign says to walk.” “Don’t go if the sign says don’t walk before you get to the intersection.” “You’ll get cold outside in the winter unless you wear warm clothes.” “You shouldn’t quit when you’re behind, because you still might win.” “Use both hands to hold a heavy plate full of food so that you don’t drop it.”
Sentence Combination – Instruct Students to combine two or three phrases with limited or not use of the word and.
1) the phone rang; he answered it – After the phone rang, he answered it.
2) the girl stood up; she had to stand up to see – The girl stood up so that she could see.
3) the man opened his umbrella; it was not raining – The man opened his umbrella although it was not raining.
4) the pen was blue; the pen broke; the pen fell – The blue pen broke after it fell
5) the boy was inside; he took off his sunglasses; he could see better – The boy took off his sunglasses inside so he could see better.
Blurt! Students are instructed to state the helping verb in orally presented sentences.
First write the helping verbs on the board: For example, “Is Are Am Does”
Then say a sentence with a helping verb. For example, say: “I am hungry.” The first student to say the helping verb, am, gets a point. Increase sentence length to increase complexity.
For a noncompetitive activity, write each word more than once, and instruct students to work together to eliminate all the words on the board.
Surprising Statements. Use tag questions to verify surprising statements, such as, “My son is seven feet tall.” or “My pet birds wear shoes.” The student is instructed to create a tag question with the helping verb.
Examples: “He is?” “Sarah did what?” “Your pet birds do?” “I should have?” “Ben Franklin did?”
Persuasion. Write target helping verbs on the board. Student is instructed to convince a reluctant friend to go somewhere using target words. Examples of possible places: an amusement park, the zoo, a skating rink, a rodeo, etc.
Examples: “The rides are great.” “There are a lot of elephants.” “It was not crowded the last time.” “You will have so much fun.”
Zig Zags. Write target words on one side of page or board, and matching pictures on the other side, not directly across from each word. When the page is finished have the student match the pictures to the words, or send home for quick and easy homework. Zig Zags work great for differentiating common confusions, such as singular and plural helping verbs, e.g. is, are, was, were, has, have, do, and does.
Watch a television show clip. These can be downloaded from the internet or recorded directly. Identify and write down all the idioms heard. Discuss how they were used.
Talk about famous song titles or lyrics to famous songs with idioms. A type of “famous song titles” or “famous song lyrics” on an internet search engine such as Google can provide a good start.
Use comic section of the Sunday paper. Look for and discuss idioms found. Look for idioms in other sections of the paper, such as sports or arts and entertainment.
Look for idioms in popular fiction books or books required for classroom reading. Discuss meaning. Discuss why the idioms are used more in fiction versus nonfiction writing.
Discuss idioms used in sports. Use a recorded telecast, sports page from a newspaper, sports book from the library, or other sports items of interest.
Look for idioms in commercials, announcements, ads, or anywhere!
Discuss fifteen or twenty idioms prior to activity. Then, state that you’re going to read the idioms in sentences one at a time, leaving out one word. Any student that knows the missing word must raise his or her hand, and takes a guess. If the answer is incorrect, the other students get another chance after hearing the sentence again. Correct answers get one point. An extra point can be earned by telling what the idiom means. The following is an example of two turns of play:
Instructor: “Get ready to raise your hands if you know the missing word. Remember that if you’re wrong, you have to let the others guess after hearing the idiom again. Toward the end of the race, the out of shape man ran out of blank.” Joe raises his hand. “Joe.”
Joe: “Steam. Run out of steam means he got tired.”
Instructor: “Yes! Joe gets two points. Okay. Here comes the next one. Go ahead and tell me the bad news. Don’t blank around the bush.“ Sarah raises her hand. “Sarah.”
Sarah: “Beat. Don’t beat around the bush means don’t take a long time.”
Instructor: “Correct! Two points for Sarah!”
- The football player felt (out of place/ wrapped up) at the ballet.
- My little brother likes to (make believe/ never mind) that he’s a superhero.
- The sergeant was (tired out of/in charge of) the squadron.
- We need to be at the appointment at five (on the dot/ make it up).
- It’s (wait a minute/ up to you) how much success you will achieve in life.
- After being picked on by the bully for weeks, the little boy finally decided that it was time to (rub it in/ put his foot down).
- She couldn’t (pass up/ back out of) the extra piece of chocolate cake.
- The serious injury caused all the basketball player’s future dreams to go (like a needle in a haystack/ down the drain).
- My sister has (a different tune/ a soft spot) for small puppies.
- It should (go without saying/ do the trick) that practice makes perfect.
- We had to brainstorm for hours before our plans for the science fair could even (get off the ground/ go through the motions).
Wrong Time, Wrong Place!
Read various idioms and a person whom the idiom is being used with. The person should be an inappropriate target audience for that idiom. The student should explain why the target person is inappropriate.
- A student tells a teacher, “I want your eyes on the board.”
- A teenager asks his grandmother, “What’s up?”
- A father tells his two year old daughter, “That goes without saying.”
- A marathon runner tells another runner, “Let’s try to get out of shape.”
- A coach tells his team, “We’re winning. Let’s wave the white flag.”
- An employee tells her boss, “You drive me crazy every day.”
- A job applicant says to an interviewer, “I like to let my hair down.”
- A teacher tells her students to answer every test question with the first
answer off the top of their heads.
- A five year old tells his baby sister to “Take it easy.”
Irregular Past Tense Verbs
Shout out! Rapidly state past tense verbs. Students are instructed to quickly state if the word is right or wrong. For extra metalinguistic practice, students can give reasons for incorrect verbs. Examples of incorrect verbs are: breaked, cutted, ated, begought, fitted, seed, teached, hided, strunk, span, hanged, falled
On construction paper or poster board, create board games with students. Students can be allowed creativity in choosing their own shape if desired. They may also add different features, such as “roll again,” “lose a turn,” “go back or go forward,” spaces, or short cuts. Most spaces should be blank prior to requiring students to help fill in the blanks with target words (irregular past tense verbs in this case). As the games are played, students are required to use words in sentences or structured conversation. Requiring multiple passes around the board ensures that most words are practiced. Refer to the pictures below for examples.
Correct “funny” sentences. For example,
Mom losed her car keys.
She readed the whole book.
The pitcher throwed a strike.
We meeted the new teacher.
I rided my bike home.
Mom buyed a new car.
The thunder waked me up.
Sam taked his backpack to school this morning.
He thinked he knowed the answer.
My mother heared a bird singed before it flied away.
The teacher told us not to forgot our homework.
The ground shaked violently during the earthquake.
I accidentally teared my paper into four pieces.
She understanded most of the directions for the report.