This is part of a continuing series of posts on therapy ideas to support assistants (SLPAs) and paraprofessionals in the schools in their work with students and their supervising SLPs.
Do you use children’s literature, textbooks, or picture books to address language goals? Vocabulary, sequencing, descriptive language, organization, and story retell are all great ways to incorporate books into your therapy. But what about articulation? Do you have students who have both articulation and language goals? Or students with articulation goals who come to speech with other students working on language goals? Yes! You can use books to address articulation goals, as well! Here are therapy techniques to keep in mind, and some books to use for specific sounds:
- Use books at the right time. Teaching a sound, and the tongue placement and manner of production associated with it, is different from practicing a sound. Therapy should look very different in this initial stage of articulation treatment, ideally involving visual and tactile support and more possibly more individual attention than other stages of therapy. Talk to your supervising SLP about how to differentiate stages of therapy.
- Introduce the lesson. Students should understand why they are reading the book and what they are working on. Use explicit language like, “We are going to look for words in this book that have the /s/ sound we’ve been practicing. Listen as I read for words that start with /s/.”
- Review the lesson. Students should reflect on the lesson at the end of the activity. Leave yourself a minute at the end to review why you did what you did! Even very young children benefit from a statement like, “We read this book to find words to practice that start with /s/. What words did we find?”
- Stay focused! Introducing and reviewing the lesson can help you keep your therapy focused, as well. As language-loving people, we all love to talk about predictions and comprehension, make connections and explore context. But unless you are working on a language goal, or addressing a sound at a conversation level, generalizing the articulation target into running speech, you may be using your limited “speech time” inefficiently! Even in a group with mixed speech and language goals, you can keep students (and yourself!) focused on their individual goals by reminding them what they are working on.
Some of our favorite books for specific articulation targets are Silly Sally, by Audrey Wood and Four Fur Feet, by Margaret Wise Brown, especially because there is a great YouTube video to go with it!
SLPAs and paraprofessionals should always operate within the scope defined by state and national licensing organizations and should only conduct allowable tasks under the supervision of a speech-language pathologist.