One of the many perks of working in the school system – the much-awaited Thanksgiving break. You’re almost there! Spending time with friends and family over an 8-course dinner is always a highlight of the year. Time to catch up with the people you love and, of course, take a nap. Many of our students who have receptive and expressive language issues, as well as pragmatic deficits, most likely find this a more anxiety-inducing time of year. A house full of people, disruption in routine, conversations and dialogue that seem impossible to translate or keep up with – it can be overwhelming, to say the least. I find that this time of year is a good time to help our students target more functional speech and language skills and to help generalize these skills into the home environment. Below are some therapy ideas for various skill levels. Enjoy!
I LOVE to help teach these students how to set the table. If you have play food and toys, it would be great to have the students learn the overall sequencing of setting a table. I generally have them take turns laying down placemats, plates, utensils, cups, etc. This way, they may recognize the routine and initiate engagement. This is also a good opportunity to target categories: Main course foods, side items, desserts, veggies, meats, etc., as well as spatial concepts. If you don’t have play toys handy, no worries – I always cut out construction paper in the shape of any item I feel like and go with that instead!
For K-2nd grade levels, I have an easy go-to activity for language that targets spatial concepts, following directions, categories, or vocabulary building. Each student constructs either a turkey (or a tree) and attaches either a leaf or feather with their target vocabulary word after providing a synonym or antonym. This can also be used for articulation students using their target sounds. For 3rd-12th grade levels, my favorite thing to do, especially for pragmatic deficits, is to review some of the conversational topics that may be brought up by family members. Such as, “How’s school going?” “Are you enjoying football this year?” “What would you like for Christmas?” etc. This is also a really good time to review “rude” and “nice” behaviors, such as chewing with your mouth open, interrupting others when they’re talking, or any others you can think of! I also enjoy targeting receptive and expressive language skills by asking students if they’re traveling for Thanksgiving, whose house they’ll be going to, who will be there, etc. For the more advanced students, I generally like to review family relatives and possibly make a family tree including aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents.
There are SO many possibilities for Thanksgiving activities! With our guidance, our students who have language and pragmatic deficits can be better-equipped for what is most likely a stressful time for them, making it the same enjoyable experience we have every November!
Author: Griffin Parrott, SLP