11 Awesome Activities That Will Make Speech Teletherapy Exciting
How do you keep kids interested and engaged in front of a screen during speech teletherapy?
That’s something I’ve heard a lot in speech and language groups lately. Let’s face it, sometimes keeping kids engaged with you when you are a picture on their screen can be hard!
SLPs in the schools (and many in private practice too) have had to pivot on a dime and figure out how to provide therapy services in virtual-only and blended models during the COVID 19 pandemic. It’s brand-new territory for most of us.
With a little tweaking and adaption, most of your go-to activities can work well in teletherapy.
If you’re working with very young children, or children with shorter attention spans, you’ll want to change things up and have 2-3 activities lined up per session.
So if you’re new to this virtual therapy model like I was, you may need some extra ideas to jazz up your therapy sessions and keep kids excited to participate. I hope you find some new activities or ways to tweak familiar ones in this list!
11 activities you’ll want to try to keep your preschool and elementary students engaged during your teletherapy sessions
1. Read Picture Books
Always a favorite activity of mine, there are several ways to share a book virtually.
Read a book you have and show the pictures to the webcam.
Find a favorite book read aloud on YouTube. Listen or turn off the sound and read it yourself.
Project the book: Use an Osmo base and mirror with an iPad (Desiree from slptalkwithdesiree.com walks you through using an Osmo here.) or use a document camera.
Use puppets and stuffed animals to make stories come alive in speech teletherapy!
2. Puppets and stuffed animals.
Use some puppet or fuzzy stuffed animal friends to help you tell stories. They can be part of the story or they can be a “listener” just like your students. Have a conversation with them.
Be sure to prompt their articulation, syntax, and language if they mess up a bit (a great way to model). Have the puppet talk to your students. If your puppets or stuffed animals forget the rules and interrupt you…(puppets do that, you know) you can seize the moment and teach social skills too.
I’ve pulled out real games like Pop the Pig or Pop up Pirate and “played” the student’s turn for them in front of the camera. They still love it! Guess Who, Headbanz, Ned’s Head, Apples to Apples… I bet you have plenty of games already you can use.
Board games? Take a picture or “scan” them with an app like Adobe Scan to share during your sessions. Then use your annotation tools in Zoom to create colored shapes to use as game pieces. Move them around as you play. Toytheatre.com has awesome online dice and spinners you can use.
This is an activity that’s become hugely popular for virtual therapy. If your platform has a green screen capability, it can be a lot of fun. On Zoom, you simply project a photo behind you (I’ve been down deep in the ocean or up in outer space during speech therapy.)
If you want to get more involved, make or purchase a green screen to put behind you. Add a pocket and you can pull objects “out” of something in the photo, or put them “in” (for instance, a feeding activity) and make them disappear. You can make items “float” in the air and even make your own magic mirror activity.
Really? How on earth can you do that virtually? Ask your parents to provide a few simple materials like play dough, crayons, scissors, paper, and glue. Make a paper chain, learn to draw an animal, make a snowflake, do some easy origami. Just keep it simple and be sure you’re embedding plenty of speech and language practice in the activity. You can find tons of ideas on Pinterest.
Stretch, do jumping jacks, yoga poses, dance to a movement break YouTube video… whatever! Make silly faces too. Who can make the best fish face? Try it mid-session to get your kids alert and ready to focus.
Interactive PDFs are files with clickable pictures and links. Share them on Zoom, used them Google Classroom, or load onto a tablet to use in-person with your students. They are digital and paperless, making them great for in-person therapy as well. Some are combined with printable packets for homework or hands-on activities.
I have several Interactive PDF’s in my store. Take a look to see what these are all about!
If you have PowerPoint on your computer, your kids will enjoy these games. PowerPoint games are stored on your computer, not on a website.
You can try your hand at designing one yourself, but it’s pretty tricky if you’re not familiar with creating in PowerPoint. Fortunately, there are many awesome games available on TpT. Search PowerPoint game, then narrow your search by Subject-Specialty-Speech Therapy.
You can mirror your iPad or phone, letting you use any fun app for therapy and show what you are seeing on the screen. Students won’t be able to interact with the app, but you can tap the iPad for them to make things happen. Sometimes younger children don’t even realize you are the one doing it!
My friend Sarah Wu, SLP shows you How to mirror an iPad on Zoom If you’re using another teletherapy platform that doesn’t offer this capability, you can mirror your iPad by using a mirroring app. It will stream the view of your screen to your computer, then you can share that on your platform. Search “screen mirroring” in the app store.
11. BOOM Cards
Boom Cards have become wildly popular among SLPs for several reasons. You can find decks created by SLPs that target the skills you need. Boom decks are interactive… if you can give your students control on your platform, they can click answers, drag pictures, or type answers depending on the set-up of the deck.
If you’re new to Boom, Boom Cards are paperless, no-prep, internet-based activities that you access through an account at Boom Learning. You can just use their free account to share the decks in your library during teletherapy or send a link to a student to complete as homework by generating what they call a “fast pin.” Paid accounts are also available for more options in assigning decks and getting reports on data, but not necessary for using a deck during teletherapy.
I’m excited to tell you about the animated Boom Card decks I’ve created for learning verbs.
They are made with gifs, so the children can actually see the pictures move! Way more interesting than a static task card. I’ve also recorded sound cues in these decks: narration of the words and sentences for young children and non-readers.
Click the link to try them out and you can actually play the first few cards in the decks. They are available to purchase at Speech Sprouts both on Boom Learning and in my Teachers pay Teachers Store.
I hope you found a few new activities in this list that are perfect for your students!
Which of these activities have you tried? Were any new to you? I would love to hear what your favorite teletherapy activities are and if you have any other awesome activities you couldn’t do without. Just leave a comment below. Be sure to pin this post so you’ll have it for reference later when you’re planning out your sessions!