Using Written Language to Improve Spoken Language (and Vocabulary!)

Thursday, February 20, 2020
Sometimes speech therapy can get monotonous. Working on the same sounds, using the same games... it can get a little boring. Which is probably why we find ourselves constantly perusing the Dollar Spot at Target and searching Pinterest on a regular basis. We are always looking for new, engaging activities. Sometimes the things we think are boring old activities, are actually something new and fun to another therapist. So today, I want to share with you an activity I've been using for years to teach and engage my articulation students. 
If you have worked in an elementary school setting, you have probably heard the term, "rainbow writing." If you're unfamiliar with it, rainbow writing is having a student write a word multiple times, in different colors. It gives great opportunities for lots of repetition and their papers just look so colorful. Typically this was done with sight words, but I started using this technique with articulation words in my speech sessions. When I was in the schools, I had a rainbow writing center that I used with my groups. (If you're interested in using centers in your speech sessions, here is a blog post I did on the (informal) research project I did on speech centers back in 2013.)

To make this activity as easy and low-prep as possible, I created a "Rainbow Doodles" printable packet. In this packet, each sound is listed in words in the initial, medial, and final positions. Have your students rainbow write these words as they practice them. Multisensory learning (seeing, hearing, saying, etc) can enhance learning and help with processing the information. When the child hears his/her therapist say the word, reads the word, copies the word (multiple times), and says it out loud, they are engaging all their senses. 

A 2019 study posted by the ASHA Wire looked at how written form during instruction aids vocabulary learning. The results of the study showed "strong evidence that the presence of a word's written form leads to improved learning of its spelling and spoken form. There is also some evidence that it may lead to better learning of a words meaning." 

When I read this study, it made me think of using the Rainbow Doodles activity in therapy. Instead of just repeating words produced by the therapist, seeing the words can help the child with spelling. Seeing the letters in the word and associating letter names and sounds is directly related to articulation skills. The article written on the study also mentioned that "a small number of studies have also shown that the presence of a word's written form benefits vocabulary learning in children with developmental language disorder, autism, down syndrome, and reading difficulties." Vocabulary is the foundation of language and comprehension. It's directly associated with listening comprehension, reading, writing.... all the skills we work on as speech therapists! 

You can download a copy of my Rainbow Doodles packet by clicking on the image below. (This is actually a very old activity I have had on TpT for years. I recently gave it a facelift and added some more sounds to it. If you already own it, go re-download it!)
Happy writing!!



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