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!