Tuesday: Therapy-n-Themes

Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Welcome to Day 2 of Speech-A-Palooza! I hope you enjoyed Whitney's post yesterday! Today's post is from Jen Alcorn, author of Crazy Speech World. Themes are something new I am trying this year, too. I had always done the traditional holiday themes, but I am now trying out a new theme every other week. This post will be helpful for any of you that use themes in your therapy sessions... or are thinking about doing it!

 One of the most popular questions I get is about using themes for therapy.  Mostly, how do I plan my themes?  I'm sure other people have different methods, but here is how I do it...

My therapy themes are simple and straightforward. Over the summer, I sit down with my calendar and map it out.  It takes an hour or two, but it ends up making therapy planning incredibly easier.  Why?  Because you are able to narrow your focus.

When I tackled this project the first time, it was a little overwhelming.  But the more you do it, the more comfortable you become with the process and it ended up being pretty easy for me this past summer.  Something you may find helpful is from Perkilou Products...it is a four week calendar for every month of the year.  It gave me ideas when I was first starting to create my own.

My own version is a little different.  I center my planning around holidays and seasons, some of which I use for two weeks.  You can download my version HERE.

I also created a blank version, which you can grab HERE.

After this part comes the fun stuff...finding materials!

  • Blogs.  I think these are the best places to get inspired and find activities.
  • Pinterest.  I have seen tons of Pin Boards dedicated to specific holidays, seasons, or themes.  You can even search by theme using the search box. 
  • Books.  Look through your own or go visit the library!  You can find a book on any topic, try to find various levels, as well as fiction and non-fiction.
  • Go through your STUFF!  Pull your files out and go through your cabinets.  I bet you have tons of your own materials that you can use :)

I have started organizing my themes by binders to keep up with it all.  I bought tons of page protectors to keep all my original worksheets and materials in, and all of my activities for that theme go in the binder.  I also make a list of all the manipulatives that I have that go with the theme...like I have jack-o-latern baskets I can use for Halloween or the Popcorn containers with the carnival theme.  I just don't want to forget what I have!  We always have so much STUFF!

I still use my trusty bag of favorites...CandyLand, Apples to Apples, Chipper Chat etc. to fill in the gaps.  Not everything I do is related to the theme, but I love having the organization of using themes in therapy.  I really believe that it has positively impacted my therapy and I would encourage any SLP to do it!


  1. Thanks to all of the great speech blogs I have found, I am now trying themes for the first time in thirteen years of working as an SLP. I am really enjoying it very much and I think I will continue doing it for years to come.

  2. I LOVE themes! They make therapy so fun, and keep the kids really engaged. This is a wonderful schedule! Thanks!
    Let's Talk Speech Therapy

  3. I started using themes when I primarily worked with preschool students and kept it going when I went back to working with school age students. I'm a theme-aholic! My students will laugh because their sticker chart stickers even match the theme:)Other themes I use include apples, pumpkins, food, winter sports, frogs, ladybugs, caterpillars (yes, around the Very Hungry Caterpillar), picnic-time, and baseball. I organize my materials, books, games and activities for the themes with labeled hanging dividers in plastic crates by month. I just pull out the appropriate crate each month and voila!

  4. I love themes, though I want to incorporate more themes more often with my school-aged students. I constantly use simple themes with my preschoolers.

    Talking With Rebecca

  5. I love the idea of planning themes over the summer so you don't have to tackle this at the beginning of the school year when its such a crazy time! I also like the flexibility of following the theme or not depending on the studets' needs and interest! Nice work! thanks for sharing!

  6. This blog post is just what I needed to get me started with using themes in my therapy sessions. I work with preschoolers and have not being doing a good job with my lesson planning recently. Thank you for sharing your planning ideas and themes. I am going to get started on this right away. I know it will make a difference for my kids! :)

  7. Kristin, this is wonderful!! Thank you for sharing both curriculums. I'm looking to develop a curriculum for a Chinese English immersion class, and many of these themes will be important to cover to provide a holistic curriculum.


    Living sustainably on $100/week in NYC

  8. Very informative article. Looking forward to more posts in near future.I have also found some interesting info on speech therapy for preschoolers

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