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Bugged About How to Use an Insect Theme in Speech Therapy?

Bugs are such a fun and engaging topic for speech therapy because they provide a variety of opportunities for language development and communication practice.... and kids seem to love them! Insects have unique names and characteristics, which can help children learn new vocabulary words and practice describing. Talking about bugs also encourages children to ask and answer questions, make observations, and engage in conversations with others. Bug themes can also stimulate imaginative play and storytelling, which can help children develop their narrative skills and creativity. Bugs are such a fun and interactive way for children to practice their speech and language skills. In this article, I'll share ideas that will help your students improve their communication skills while getting buggy!!


BOOKS!

Books are a valuable tool in speech therapy as they provide a wide range of language and communication opportunities. They offer a visual and tactile experience that can help engage children in the therapy process. Books can be used to target specific speech and language goals, such as vocabulary development, sentence structure, and comprehension skills. They also provide a natural context for practicing social communication skills, such as turn-taking and asking and answering questions. Additionally, books can be used to promote literacy skills, which are essential for academic and lifelong success.


10 Buzzworthy Books About Insects Your Patients will Love:

  • "The Grouchy Ladybug" by Eric Carle

  • "Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!" by Bob Barner

  • "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle

  • "National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Bugs" by Catherine D. Hughes

  • "10 Little Ladybugs" by Melanie Gerth

  • "Bug on a Rug" by Sophia Gholz

  • "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Fly Guy" by Tedd Arnold

  • "I Love Bugs!" by Philemon Sturges

  • "Bugs in My Hair?!" by David Shannon

  • "The Bugliest Bug" by Carol Diggory Shields



GAMES!

Games are often used in speech therapy as they provide a fun and engaging way for children to practice their speech and language skills. Games can help to improve a variety of skills, including articulation, vocabulary, grammar, and social communication. They can also be adapted to suit different age groups and skill levels. I think most speech therapists love games as much as the kiddos!


7 Excell-ant Games to Use in Speech and Language Therapy:

  • Ants in the Pants: A classic game for any SLP where players use plastic ants to flick into a pair of pants. As long as your kiddos can handle the fine motor requirements, this is a quick and easy game for speech target reinforcement as well as concepts such as colors, in/out, top/bottom.

  • The Ladybug Game: This fun and adorable board game was actually created by a six-year-old! As you guide your ladybug back home to the rose garden, you must get through the praying mantis' trap, pay ants with aphids to pass through their ant hill, and navigate all the steps of the garden.

  • Let's Feed The Very Hungry Caterpillar Game: Transform your caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly with this fun game of counting, collecting, and building! This is a board game based on Eric Carle's popular story, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" with the same beautiful colors and artwork!

  • Honeybee Tree: My students always love this game in speech therapy! It does take some time and patience to set up, but I often use this opportunity to get more articulation drills out of my patients (push, leaf, hole, green, etc.). You want to collect the fewest number of bees as you pull away the supporting branches of the honeybee tree. This is great reinforcer for drill work as well as concepts such as up/down, in/out, top/bottom, and numbers.

  • Snug as a Bug in a Rug: I love a cooperative game for speech sessions! They are a great example of teamwork, which can aid in treatment of pragmatic language and social skills. So many preschool concepts can be targeted with this game, such as colors, numbers, shapes, and sizes. The location concepts of above/over/under/beneath are easy goals for this game. Of course, you can use any game to drill articulation work, grammar, etc.

  • Elefun: In all my years of being a speech-language pathologist, I have only met one child who didn't love Elefun! This cute game allows children to try to catch butterflies that have been shot out of the elephant's trunk. I often use this game as a reinforcement activities for my children with apraxia, articulation disorders, and phonological disorders, asking them for 3 repetitions of their goals for each butterfly that they put inside the elephant (as part of set-up). Then comes the fun of catching!

  • Shoo Ants... You're Not Invited to Our Picnic!: This is not a game that you can purchase, but one that I created within my speech therapy room! I use a large, red buffalo-print tablecloth and set up a picnic with toy food! I then spread small, plastic ants on our blanket, but they are so close to our food! We must move them away to the leaves that border our blanket by rolling a die and using the buffalo-checked squares as spaces! The children practice their target, roll the die, and move the ants. Once an ant reaches a leaf, the kids can then choose a food item to cut apart and serve!



CRAFTS!

Kids love crafts, and I love them as an easy way to target goals during speech and language sessions. By using crafts, we therapists can provide a hands-on, visual and tactile experience that can help to reinforce language concepts. Crafts increase motivation and attention, and provide an opportunity for social interaction and turn-taking. Crafts can be adapted to pretty much any speech and language goal, such as vocabulary, following directions, and sequencing not to mention articulation. Using crafts in speech therapy makes it more enjoyable and effective for our kiddos! I like to use simple shapes that are easy to reproduce and cut out that are more about assembly than artwork so that the child's focus is more on their speech and language goals than their art.

  • Ladybug: A few simple circles in red and black along with some googly eyes, pipe cleaners, and a black dauber, and you have the ingredients for a cute and easy craft activity! Click here if you are interested in free templates for this craft!

Materials:

  • 2 - 5" Red Circles made out of construction paper or card stock for the wings

  • 1 - 5" Black Circle made out of construction paper or card stock for the body

  • 1 - 3" Black Circle made out of construction paper or card stock for the head

  • 2 Googly Eyes

  • 2 - 1" Black Piper Cleaners, curled for the antennae

  • Black Bingo Dauber

Assembly:

Glue the head at the top of the body. Attach to red wings, each folded in half and angled outward, leaving a black triangle between them. Glue or stick on (the ones I have are stickers) two googly eyes on the head. Attach the antennae to the back of the head using tape or glue. Decorate the ladybug's wings with dots using the black dauber.



  • Zig-Zag Spider: Again, I love using very simple crafts in therapy to keep the focus on speech and language, not art! One simple circle, eight long rectangles, and a pair of googly eyes, and you have a craft that even your youngest kiddos can assemble while practicing! Click if you are interested in a free template for this craft!

Materials:

  • 1 - 6" Black Circle for the body

  • 8 - 10" x .75' Rectangles for the legs (zig-zagged).

  • 2 Googly Eyes

Assembly:

This one is as easy as gluing the zig-zagged legs onto the back of the body and then adding the googly eyes to the front!



TABLE TASKS

Sometimes, we have to sit at the table and have structured activities for our students. Pictures are great as a visual aid to help kids better understand and communicate language. They can be especially helpful for kiddos with language disorders, who have limited vocabulary. Pictures can provide a concrete representation of words or concepts, making it easier for them to understand and remember them. They can also be used to help children practice forming sentences and expressing themselves in a structured way. Plus, pictures are a fun and engaging way to make speech therapy sessions more interactive and enjoyable for individuals of all ages. I like to use some materials that I have created that allow for max repetitions of target words because my population is largely children with speech disorders.

  • Smash Mats: Check out my insect smash mat! A smash mat is such a simple concept, but hugely productive in terms of repetitions, vocabulary, etc. Simply roll 1" balls out of Play-Doh and allow children to smash them down over a targeted picture after they've accomplished their speech-language task! My patients never get tired of smash mats! I have created many that target vocabulary, specific speech sounds, syllable shapes, and wh-- questions. These are always an easy no-plan go-to for any of your sessions! Browse my smash mats here!

  • Color by Numbers: While Color-by-Numbers pages are great for early preschool concepts such as shapes, colors, and numbers, I often use them as a reinforcement activity for drills. I have a CBN butterfly as well as a firefly jar that allow for maximum repetitions in a very short period of time. Kiddos can use markers or daubers to create some colorful ways to practice their targets!

  • Muffin Tins: I love to put pictures or small objects into muffin tins covered with foil or tissue paper that the children can poke to reveal what's inside! There are endless possibilities to what you can target with this simple, fun task!

  • Coloring Pages: Sometimes, I simply Google "coloring pages" with my theme to find quick and easy things that I can incorporate into my sessions. This is a particularly adorable one that I think is great if you are using an insect theme! Allowing a child to color one insect after 10 repetitions of their target will get you 80 repetitions pretty quickly! This also offers ample opportunities for language practice!



LET'S MOVE

Movement is such an amazing part of success in speech therapy! The back-and-forth tasks of language activities and physical movement involve crossing over the corpus collosum, which enhances learning. Being active does the same thing for children in speech therapy that it does for all of us. It pumps out endorphins. When endorphins are released, they bind to receptors in the brain that can reduce feelings of pain and stress, while also providing a sense of euphoria and well-being. For kids, this means FUN! You can see positive results even from simple physical tasks like standing, walking, or rolling a ball. No child wants to sit at a table for an hour! Moving is awesome for kids! That is a huge motivating factor for all children!

  • Bug Hunt: I am endlessly hiding things for children to find, and this is always a huge win! Not only do the kids get up and move, they seem to love the challenge of finding all the objects or pictures! I use a great Learning Discoveries insect collection, which are also great for targeting colors, vocabulary, and categorization!

  • Swat the Bugs: I use my Smash Mat insect pictures, but you can use any pictures you'd like! Hang them up on the wall, around the room or clinic, and let children swat before or after they produce their target. I found these adorable hand-shaped fly swatters... my kiddos think it's so fun to "high five" with them after they've accomplished their goal!

  • Spider Web: Find a way to extend black yarn back and forth between doorknobs, chair legs, cabinets, tables, and other sturdy fixtures within your treatment room to create an awesome spider web! I toss small insect toys on the floor under the web. After accomplishing their target, your student crawls through to grab a bug.

  • Roll to Match: I use a frog backpack, and dump a ton of colored bugs into it. After producing their target, the children grab out a bug, and using a sitting scooter, match it to a disc of the same color.



Bugs are fascinating creatures that inspire creativity and curiosity in children. By using insect-inspired activities, you can make speech therapy fun and exciting, which always leads to the most un-bee-lievable results!



 

LINKS TO PRODUCTS

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Snug as a Bug in a Rug

The Ladybug Game

Let's Feed The Very Hungry Caterpillar Game

Ants in the Pants

Honeybee Tree

Elefun

Googly Eyes

Bingo Daubers

Red Checkered Tablecloth

Small Toy Ants

Cutting Play Food

Large Dice for Kids

Bug Counters

Scooter Board

Colored Vinyl Discs

High Five Fly Swatter


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