Quick and Easy St. Patrick's Day-themed Activities to Use in Your Speech Therapy Session
Quick and Easy March Themed Speech Therapy Activities
As speech and language specialists, we know how important it is to keep therapy sessions engaging and fun for the children we treat. With March just around the corner, what better way to do that than by incorporating some St. Patrick's Day-themed activities and books into our sessions? In this post, I'll discuss some quick and easy March speech therapy activities that will not only engage and entertain our kiddos, but also help them reach their speech and language goals.
Why Activities, Crafts, and Books are Important in Speech Therapy
Before we dive into the specific St. Patrick's Day activities, let's talk about why it's essential to incorporate these types of resources into our therapy sessions. First, activities and crafts can help keep children engaged and motivated to participate in therapy. Using fun reinforcement activities will make them excited to work on their speech and language goals.
Themed activities and books can also help create a more structured and focused therapy session. By tying everything back to a central theme, we utilize a whole-language approach, which is based on all aspects of learning: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Learning should be connected with real-life experiences, activities, and each individual child.
Finally, themed activities and books, within the whole language approach can help improve our kiddos’ generalization skills. By teaching them vocabulary, pronouns, questions, concepts, etc. that are related to a specific theme, we can help them understand and apply those skills to real-world situations outside of therapy more fully.
Now, let's get into the fun stuff! Here are some quick and easy St. Patrick's Day-themed activities that you can use in your speech therapy sessions:
Zig Zag Pot of Gold
I don’t know about you, but all of my children seem to love “rainbow colors”, and I can’t blame them… even as an adult, I do! For this activity, just grab some construction paper, scissors, and glue. Cut out the pot, gold coins, and rainbow-colored strips, and allow kiddos to assemble it in any fun way! You can find the template here! Kids can practice their articulation sounds, follow directions, sequence actions, learn concepts, and so much more with just a simple craft. Once they've completed the activity, they'll have a fun St. Patrick's Day decoration that they can take home!
Color By Numbers
Color by Numbers is another fun St. Patrick's Day-themed activity that can be used in speech therapy sessions. It is an effective way to work on number recognition, following directions, and color identification skills. I also love to use this as a reinforcement activity for articulation and phonological targets. Dreaded drills, right? The kids really enjoy coloring in a 1, saying their word 1 time, coloring a 2 for two times, a 3 for three times, etc. This is a great way to get a ton of repetitions out of them! Try out this one!
To do this activity, go snag my St. Patrick's Day-themed Color by Numbers printable, which can easily be found in my Teacher Pay Teachers store.
St. Patrick’s Day seems to remind us that spring is just around the corner, hopefully bringing with it sunshine and warmer weather. This time of year can offer great opportunities to get outside and practice speech and language skills in a natural environment. However, we know that taking speech therapy outdoors is not always possible. I try to incorporate physical activity of some sort (whether inside or outside) during all of my sessions.
Here’s the science part… when we move, our blood gets pumping through our entire bodies, including a big rush to the brain. This increases oxygen and energy, which equals improved attention, a happier mood, and an increased ability to remember what we’ve learned. (I should get to the gym more!).
Eric Jensen, a member of the Society for Neuroscience and New York Academy of Sciences, states that “Simple biology supports the obvious link between movement and learning.” In his book, he explains that increased movement grows cortical mass, a greater number of neuron connections, and gene expression to improve learning and memory (Jensen, 2005).^
On the relationship between physical activity and brain function, a study at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reported, “Children who are more active show greater attention, have faster cognitive processing speed, and perform better” (Kohl, 2013).*
Getting physical in therapy encourages the child to fully engage with you and enjoy learning! Movement and sensory activities support focus, and self-regulation, reduce distractions, and build neural connections that increase learning and retention!
Incorporate speech/language tasks during physical activities.
Sometimes that may seem difficult in what are often our small speech-therapy rooms, but even hopping or jumping to the other side of the room and then returning to you with maybe a card with a target word, or the object you told them to retrieve, etc. can have a great impact on a child’s success in therapy. You can even incorporate movement like jumping jacks or hopping back and forth over a rope or tape laid out on the floor. But, you should definitely encourage motor movement in your speech room. If goals can’t be incorporated during the physical time, add some before seated work tasks. This will help a child’s ability to attend to the task for a longer period of time and engage them more.
Physical activities can and should go hand-in-hand with speech and language practice!
How about a scavenger hunt?
Pick up that list of St. Patrick's Day-themed items for children to search for, such as four-leaf clovers, gold coins, and rainbows. As they find each item, they can practice describing it and using it in a sentence. For example, "I found a gold coin! It's shiny and round."
Create an indoor or outdoor obstacle course!
I break out my tunnel, sensory stepping stones, spinning cart, a basket to toss balls in, and Twister Hopscotch… you choose anything that can get your kiddos moving! For St. Patrick’s day, I toss coins in and around each station, having them collect as many as they can. You can have the child repeat their target equivalent to the number of coins they found. Kiddos can explain to you where they found them, which allows for semantic and syntactic practice. They can sequence their path, or describe their actions. Remember the science? This is all pushing them to make further gains, no matter their speech or language objectives.
St. Patrick's Day-Themed Books
So, now we’re exhausted from all of that running around! Who would like to settle in for a good book? If you are an SLP or teacher or parent or any human, you pretty much know that books are an immense part of a child’s learning, language, and development. Books are such an amazingly rich resource for so many things that a child needs to grow!
How to Catch a Leprechaun by Adam Wallace
This story is so cute and has all the potential for crafts, projects, and writing as follow-up activities, which can reinforce all that can be learned from this book! Have a student who is struggling with concepts? This book is flush with so much great vocabulary! “Dark, near, here, quiet, in, out, upside down, all, everywhere, around, unless, gold, green, quick, full, little, to from”. This is an amazing resource for teaching and reinforcing concepts!
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Clover! by Lucille Colandro
What a great way to work on sequencing and vocabulary! I always love a good “Old Lady Who…” story to share with my kids. They love them in their silliness, and the rhymes are perfect for phonological awareness, auditory processing, and prosody practice. The story follows an old lady as she swallows a variety of St. Patrick's Day-themed items, and each page includes fun vocabulary words like "fiddle" and "pot of gold."
Who can resist a cute rhyming story based on a classic like “Night Before Christmas”? I love the clever and creative rhymes, which allow for the reinforcement of phonological awareness and auditory processing growth. Practically any St. Patrick’s day related vocabulary words you can think of are captured in this book (even though the Leprechaun couldn’t be captured)! I think this book is perfect for practicing sequencing skills (and the memory, concept, sentence structure, and grammar work this allows!).
Themes are amazing for speech-language therapy, the classroom, and at home for developing and growing so many skills! Get moving, get crafting, get reading, and have some fun while growing those little minds!
^Jensen, E. (2005). Teaching with the brain in mind. (2nd edition). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
*Kohl, HW, and HD Cook. “Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School.” The National Academies, 2013, doi:10.17226/18314.