Winter can be a magical time of year, and there are so many fun and engaging winter-themed books that can be used in speech therapy sessions. These books provide an excellent opportunity to work on a variety of language and literacy skills, including vocabulary development, retelling stories, following directions, predicting outcomes, discussing emotions, describing actions and events, asking and answering questions, role-playing, and practicing speech sounds.
I am excited to introduce you to some of my favorite winter-themed books and provide ideas for how to use them in your speech therapy sessions. Whether you are a speech-language pathologist, a teacher, or a parent looking for ways to support your child's language development, these books are sure to be a hit!
These are all great winter-themed books that can be used in speech therapy sessions! Here is a little bit more information about each one:
The Snowy Day: This story is a classic! A young boy named Peter goes out on adventures in the snow. I love to use this book in my therapy sessions to target many different goals! This is a great book for targeting /s/ blends: snow, snowy, snowsuit, street, slowly, stick, smacking, snowball, smiling, slid, still, slept. Many basic language concepts are included in this tale as well: across, after, along, another, away, down, empty, enough, everywhere, everything, far, great big, high, in, into, morning, not yet, off, on top, out, outside, up, tall, together, tomorrow, while. All stories are a great way to increase vocabulary. The Snowy Day provides many thematic vocabulary words, which can also aid in word classification and associations. A great vocabulary list to accompany this winter-themed book might include: winter, snow, snowsuit, path, footprints, tracks, plop, snowball fight, snowman, snow angels, mountain, heaping, slide, packed, warm, wet, melt, falling, deep. A follow-up activity that I like to use is to put fake snow (or you can use shredded paper, cotton balls, etc.) into a tall, narrow box. In it, I hide any number of things: small toys, vocabulary or articulation cards, etc. The children use shovels to dig in and find the items, which allows for reinforcement of their targets.
The Mitten: This Ukrainian folktale tells the story of a lost mitten that is found by various animals, each of whom crawls inside to stay warm. I love The Mitten for teaching and reinforcing basic concept vocabulary. There is such a rich use of these words: all, bigger, by, from, in, inside, into, left, long, next to, off, on, out, over, right. This is a great tale for discussing what could really happen versus a fantasy story. I love it for sequencing (remembering the animals smallest to biggest entering the mitten) and for predicting what might happen next. As a follow-up activity, I actually use a large, crocheted stocking. Most speech therapists have a pretty big arsenal of animals in their materials collections, both big and small. I reinforce concepts and vocabulary as the children put different animals of varying sizes in, all while giving them an opportunity to retell and reenact the story.
Amy Loves the Snow: This simple story is one that I have been sharing with my kiddos for years! This, like The Snowy Day, provides a great way to target /s/ blends. I think winter offers many opportunities for this particular goal! In Amy Loves the Snow, we get to hear great /s/ blend words such as: snow, snowing, snowman, scarf, squeak, swish, small, snowball, and snowflake. There is so much great vocabulary and so many concepts used that all tie into the winter theme, which make it an amazing tool to use in building word repertoire and associations. I like to reinforce speech and language goals following this story by using fake snow (or as I mentioned before shredded paper, cotton balls, or wherever your creative juices might take you) and recreating the story. If my child is working on articulation goals, we certainly incorporate those into our recreation.
The Biggest Snowman Ever: I think the underlying value of this story is all about pursuing a goal, friendship, and teamwork. It shows the positives and negatives of being in competition in a very understandable, simple form. These are really great pragmatic values that may serve children with ASD as well as many other young children. This is also a really great reinforcement for sequencing. Not only do kids have the opportunity to re-sequence the story, there is also the secondary layer in the steps of making a snowman. As a reinforcement activity, I like to use wadded up paper to recreate the making of a snowman. It’s a really easy way to work on concepts such as big and small as well as bottom, middle, and top.
Snowmen at Night: I love this cute story, not only because I feel it has so many possibilities for targeting speech and language goals, but it’s just dang cute! First of all, this is a rhyming book. I love a rhyming narrative! Not only is it more fun to read, I imagine it has to be more fun to hear! Kids who are exposed to rhyming early and who are able to identify and produce rhymes, are laying a very important foundation for phonological awareness and pre-reading skills! The cuteness factor is captured in the words and pictures that show what these snowmen are doing while your child is sleeping. What a way to capture imagination! I specialize in speech disorders, so I am often interested in how to target specific phonemes, phonological patterns, and syllable shapes. Once again, Snowmen at Night exemplifies how winter and /s/ blends just seem to go hand in hand: snowmen, slipped, start, slide, street, skating, snowballs, sky, sledding, sleepy, slowly. I have a follow-up activity that I often incorporate into therapy after reading this story. I bought packs of “snowballs” at the dollar store and made 3-layer snowmen out of them. Pretend play with them allows me to target vocabulary, particularly verbs as they slide down the table, fall over, jump onto the desk, dance, jump, and run. Playing with them also gives way to opportunities to reinforce articulation targets. Location concepts? You can target any of them using these snowmen and your therapy room!
There was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow!: This is a silly twist on the classic "There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly" nursery rhyme. The way I use this story mirrors much of what I shared about Snowmen at Night! Great for rhymes! Great for sequencing! Great for vocabulary! Great for /s/ blends! I also love that this story allows for the opportunity to memorize by building with each new item that the old lady swallows! All the “Old Lady Swallowed” books are such an easy way to help children with auditory memory issues, which is often a symptom of an auditory processing disorder. This book is a perfect example of what to use in therapy for children with auditory processing disorders. The practice with rhyming, sequencing, and auditory memory. Using a sing-song pattern with varying pitches and intonations allows the child to repeat supra-segmantal speech patterns. I have used this giant black and white Xerox (yep, it’s that old & so am I) copy of the Old Lady's face with a huge mouth cutout that is attached to a box. What can’t you throw in there to reinforce any goal you have? Articulation cards, small toys, animals, literally, anything that will fit into her mouth. This gives us therapists the chance to re-target rhymes, sequencing, vocabulary, articulation, auditory memory, prosodic language patterns… the opportunities are truly endless!
Sneezy the Snowman: This book is one of my favorites to share with kids! It is truly adorable! The biggest take-away from this cute story is a repetition of cause and effect as the cold snowman tries to warm up but keeps melting himself in his attempts followed by all of his friends building him back up! This tale also provides a great opportunity for rhyming and sequencing. The entire story rhymes, but goes on for a good many sequences where this cute little snowman can’t quite learn his lesson! A beautiful pragmatic lesson also emerges from this story as all of the snowman’s friends are willing, page by page, to offer a piece of their warm clothing, despite their discomfort to themselves. Here come the ice cubes for my follow-up activities! I like to make my ice cubes with colored pom-poms in them. They are fun for the kids and offer more layers of language: identifying colors, and classifying them together! Depending on our goals, I may have a child gather one of these ice cubes and put them into a pitcher. I may use the ice cubes in front of a portable heater (warm air, no hot surface) to discover melting. I have used other figurines to play the friends of our snowman to act out kind and thoughtful acts.
Under My Hood I Have a Hat: This book only has 82 words. But we SLPs know how to make the most out of the fewest of words! I am going to introduce you to my “follow up” activity to this story, despite the fact that I do it before/during the time I read the book. My kids absolutely love it when I walk into my therapy room covered in layers of boots, and hats, and sweaters, and coats, and scarves, and mittens. As the story progresses, I remove my layers. What a great chance to target sequencing! The entire story needs so many basic concepts: under, blue, red, two, to, round, in, by, too, inside, wide, because, up, at all. The follow-up activity is a no-brainer! My kiddos absolutely love getting re-dressed in the items I just took off! This is an amazing practice for anything you want. You can reinforce articulation… say your word 10 times and add another piece of clothing. Sequencing how you took them off and how they will be put back on that kiddo. Really, there is nothing you can’t target here!
Hello, Snow!: I’m not sure this book gets the attention it deserves for its amazing wealth of language growth opportunities. I almost feel like I should bullet-point some of the benefits at this point! Rhyming, phonological awareness, basic concepts, sequencing, vocabulary…. After this story, I use a really large doll so that my kiddos and I can recreate the story focusing on pretty much anything they may need!
Using books and stories should be a staple in your speech pathology practice if it isn't already! First of all, we are all searching for easy planning! Right? Look no more! Books are such an easy part of your treatment plan! However, we always have our patient’s needs at the center of everything we do! When you work with kids, that has to mean fun reinforcement. I hope these books and the follow-up activities I have shared will allow for that!