How to Add Language to Our 6 Favorite Occupational Therapy Activities

Check out this article to learn how you can add speech and language targets into some of our favorite OT activities. 

Occupational therapy is designed to use purposeful and meaningful activities to help individuals develop “skills for the job of living”. Speech-language therapy combines a lot of the foundational skills that OT's address, and vice versa. In celebration of Occupational Therapy month and our appreciation for our wonderful South Shore Therapies OT's, here are ways you can incorporate your child's speech and language goals into our favorite OT activities. 

How to add speech and language into OT Activities

1.    Feed The Shark

  • What is it? You may need your imagination for this, but the kids love it! You need a swing, a tire or something to throw at, and some bean bags. The child is on the boat in the middle of the ocean and they need to feed the shark before he gets too angry. To feed the shark, the child needs to throw the bean bags into the sharks mouth. But make sure you do it before time runs out.
  • How can you incorporate speech and language into it? This game can target a multitude of speech and language goals. To start, you can incorporate following prepositional directions into this game by having the child throw the bean bag in the sharks mouth, under the sharks mouth (maybe for a fish or shark friend), above the sharks mouth, next to the sharks mouth, etc. In addition, if your child is working on improving their articulation skills, you can attach words to the bean bags that include their target speech sounds. Before they feed the shark, have them practice saying the target word X amount of times. 

 

2.    Life Size Angry Birds

  • What is it? This movement activity allows kids to develop many different skills while replicating a game in person. You need large building blocks (that are safe to crash into), scooter board and scooter ramp. Take photos of different block designs prior to the activity. The child must re-build the tower based on the photo. TIP: add small animals or items that replicate the ‘pigs’ within the design. Once the design is complete, they can get on the scooter and go down the ramp to knock over the tower. You can make the designs progressively harder, or encourage the child to try a variety of different ways down the scooter ramp.
  • How can you incorporate speech and language into it? Life size angry birds can be used for working memory. To target working memory, have the child look at the photos of the different block designs for a certain amount of time prior to beginning the activity. After ~30 seconds or so, take the photo away and have them replicate the tower without referring back to it! See if they are able to put the block tower together exactly as the original picture depicted it!  

 

3.    Bumper Tires

  • What is it? It doesn’t matter your age, this activity never gets old. Hang two tires up on opposing sides of the room with 2 sets of ropes hanging in between. Each person climbs into the tire (like you are riding a horse), and grabs a set of ropes. On the count of 3, start pulling the ropes to get the site swinging and in no time you will be bumping and crashing into your opponent and spinning around the room. The last person to stay in the tire and not fall off wins the round!
  • How can you incorporate speech and language into it? Bumper tires can be used to target a variety of social language concepts, including expected vs. unexpected behavior, social behavior mapping, and friendship. Bumper tires can become quite competitve, so have your child practice making supportive comments to their opponent if they win or lose. In addition, you can discuss expected vs. unexpected behaviors or helpful vs. unhelpful thoughts while playing bumper tires, especially if  your child has trouble accepting that they lost when playing a game. Instead of your child thinking "I will never win this game", have them replace their unhelpful thought with a helpful thought such as, "I will use a different strategy next time", or "maybe I will win the next round."

 

4.    Home Made Play-Doh 

  • What is it? Messy play is just the best! All you need is some flour, salt water, and food coloring and within a few minutes you have homemade play-doh. The kids can feel accomplished because they made it on their own and they have something to take home! You can always add in different scents or glitter if you want to get more creative.
  • How can you incorporate speech and language into it? This is an excellent activity for our early language kiddos. You can target pragmatic language in this activity by having your child request (e.g., "I want blue"), reject (e.g., "no pink"), label (e.g., "yellow play-doh"), and comment. If you are making multiple colors of play-doh, have your child request which color they would like to make first! You can incorporate following directions into play-doh making by giving your child single or multi-step directions while they are putitng it together! For example, you can say "first put in the flour, then put two drops of pink food coloring."

 

5.     BurgerMania   

  • What is it? Burgermania is a 2 player fine motor game for ages 4 and up. The player race to build a custom burger from the recipe card they choose. There is a conveyer belt that moves along as the kids race to build their burger. But chef’s can’t use their hands to touch the food, so the kids need to use tweezers to collect the burger pieces. Work together or work to beat the clock – how many burgers can you make?
  • How can you incorporate speech and language into it? BurgerMania is an excellent game for targeting executive functioning skills. This game will put your child's working memory (remembering the ingredients from their recipe card), impulse control (resisting the urge to use their hands instead of tweezers) and problem solving (coming up with a plan if they don't follow the recipe correctly) skills to the test! In addition, this game can be used to target size of the problem and size of the reaction in regard to winning or losing the race to build their burger on time and correctly.

 

6.     Story Cubes

  • What it is? Story Cubes have several different themed dice you can get, but we love the original at SST. It is 9 dice that have differ ent images on each edge of the dice – ranging from a lightning bolt to a bridge to everything in between. A few fun ways we have utilized story cubes in our OT sessions:
    •  Roll the dice and create a story using all the images starting with “once upon a time”
    • Roll a certain amount of dice and choose one image from them and write a sentence about it (grade it up – pick more than one or create a whole story)
    • Roll the dice and choose one image and incorporate that into a drawing
    • Roll the dice and work together to tell a story that incorporated the images that were rolled
    • Both therapist and client roll the dice, choose one image and draw individual scenes.
    • Once completed, look at the other persons image and write about what you see/interpret.
    • Roll the dice and act out what you see.
  • How can you incorporate speech and language into it? Storytelling is a critical component of language and communication. Not only does it create endless learning opportunities for our children, but it allows us to attach meaning to past experiences. It helps us connect with and understand one another. Use the Story Cubes to review the parts of a story with your child. They can use the Story Grammar Marker as a guide to make sure all key story elements are included in the stories they come up with. Click HERE to learn more about tips for teaching and practicing storytelling with your child. 

 

As a speech-therapist, I thank the OT's at South Shore Therapies for their hard work and dedication to planning and creating activities that keep our clients interested and engaged, all while having fun at the same time! You can use the tips above to add speech and language into any of the above activities to create a collaborative, multisensory and versatile activity. 

We hope you found this post helpful. Click HERE to learn more about what services and supports South Shore Therapies has to offer. Results that make a difference.

 

Have a question for us or topic you want to learn more about? Send us an email at socialmedia@southshoretherapies.com. 

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