This is a guest blog post by Jennie, a school-based SLP, all about speech therapy materials for preschool and early intervention.
Like with any population, it is so important to have the proper tools to create therapy sessions that are engaging, fun, and meaningful. Below are some of my favorite toys, books, and apps to use with the early childhood demographic. It is crucial to find the right tools in order to be a more confident and successful speech-language pathologist, but I want to emphasize that you don’t need all these things. I find that intentionality and simplicity is key in order to create purposeful and effective therapy.
5 Preschool Book Series for Speech Therapy
Shared book reading is so important for our young students as it sets the tone for not only future reading success, but exposing our students to words that they would not have learned in everyday conversation (Montag, 2015).
Boynton has a myriad of popular books including Moo, Baa, La La La!, Blue Hat, Green Hat, and Barnyard Dance. These books are repetitive, minimal in text and pictures, and overall fun and engaging for the student. That makes these books ideal for targeting basic wh questions, requesting, labeling, and early speech sounds.
This series is fantastic for the students who can’t seem to sit still for a story! It is highly engaging and ideal for working on sentence formulation, retelling, and sequencing due to the story’s repetitive nature. There is a book for almost every season, holiday, and theme!
This series is directed more towards older preschool students. Similar to the Old Lady series, there is a book for an array of holidays and themes. My students love the colorful pictures and following along to the humorous plot while I get to target rhyming, answering wh questions, sequencing, and vocabulary.
There is something just so appealing about lift the flap books. They are extremely interactive and ideal for our students with trouble maintaining attention. These books are also great for incorporating core words such as ‘open, look, turn, find.’ It allows the student to learn by giving them the opportunity to explore. Where’s Spot? as well as Campbell Books are popular books that are ideal for targeting prepositional phrases, naming, and describing.
This series by Laura Numeroff is an old favorite. There are a variety of books, and the beautiful pictures are terrific for helping our preschoolers to recall characters and events in the story. They also allow you to incorporate sequencing, describing, cause and effect, and increasing sentence length.
4 Apps for Preschool Speech Therapy
As a traveling SLP, I only have so much room in my therapy cart. Although I prefer physical materials for my students, I like to use apps to fill in any gaps I might have in my collection. Below are apps that are affordable, functional, and enjoyable to use.
6. My Play Home (FREE for the basic version, $3.99 for the full version)
If you don’t have enough room to carry a dollhouse around, here is a digital version! This app is incredibly interactive and brilliant for a range of language goals including but not limited to pronouns, turn-taking, following directions, role-playing, sequencing, increasing sentence length, and vocabulary. Doll houses are perfect tools for our early childhood students because they are functional and versatile. My favorite feature of this app is the ability to mirror the app on two devices. This means that you and your student or more than one student can play together within the same app.
7. Toca Boca ($3.99)
Toca Boca makes a variety of apps that your students will undoubtedly enjoy. I personally love using Toca Kitchen, Toca Hair Salon, and Toca World. With Toca Kitchen, you’ll find yourself targeting simple and complex directions, pronouns, commenting, and sequencing while your student feeds an array of questionable foods to their character. Toca Hair Salon will allow your student to be in charge as a hairdresser while also targeting verbs, turn-taking, and labeling. Out of all the Toca Boca apps I have, Toca World would be my favorite because it allows you to have a variety of locations (e.g. farm, stable, school, hospital, etc.) all in one place.
8. Libby (FREE)
If you have a library card then this app can be useful to you. Libby is a free app that allows the user to borrow free ebooks, digital audiobooks, and magazines from your local library. This app is ideal for teletherapists, traveling SLPs, or for someone who needs a particular book when even Amazon Prime isn’t fast enough.
9. Articulation Station ($4-8 per sound or $60 for the full version)
This is an articulation app that is comprehensive with beautiful images, easy ways to track data, a voice recording feature for auditory feedback, and the ability to use in a group session with up to six students. Articulation Station can also be used in language therapy as well! This tool is a great asset to a traveling SLP (no need to carry articulation cards) or when you have multiple students within a group.
Need additional apps? Check out this blog post!
6 Toys for Preschool Speech Therapy
10. Farm Set
An old favorite that not only targets basic speech sounds but also allows you to target functional vocabulary, grammatical concepts (such as plural tenses and present progressives), asking and answering wh questions, prepositions, and increasing sentence length. I personally like to have an array of animals, a few farmers, and other items such as tractors, hay bales, and fences. I also keep a few animals that do not belong on the farm to work on negation and categories.
11. Play Food Set
There are a ton of play food sets out there. I prefer the ones where you can cut the food with a play knife and that comes in its own container, which makes it great to travel with! Bonus points if you can find one that has a sink and stovetop to target even more language and articulation opportunities.
I prefer wooden puzzles because they are durable, include fun colors, and our little ones can hold them so much better. Puzzles are ideal for working on turn-taking, naming, answering -wh questions, and sequencing. I find myself using them to reinforce articulation trials as well!
How could you not have PlayDoh in your therapy toolkit? Our students with little hands might have a difficult time opening the lid to the PlayDoh which will create a fantastic opportunity for initiating communication. This tool is not only rich in language opportunities but is fantastic for targeting specific speech sounds such as /k/ or s-blends. For example, you can have your student cut, squeeze, or smash the PlayDoh.
This toy pairs perfectly with mini articulation objects or Mini Brand toys. The student will have the best time locking and unlocking the treasure chests, as well as sorting and matching the trinkets included. I get more natural and spontaneous conversations with my students using this combination of toys.
15. Cosmic Soda Vending Machine
A random little find from Five Below that my students absolutely love! You can target an array of articulation sounds with keywords like coin, soda, machine, cherry, orange, and grape. But fair warning…this toy is LOUD. Feel free to keep the batteries out or put tape over the speaker to muffle the sound.
These are just a few of my favorite therapy materials for the early childhood population. I value quality over quantity when it comes to my therapy materials. I love materials that are easy to travel with, simple to set up, and can be used in multiple ways. Now it’s your turn! What are your favorite therapy materials? Share in the comments below!
Montag, J. L., Jones, M. N., & Smith, L. B. (2015). The Words Children Hear: Picture Books and the Statistics for Language Learning. Psychological Science, 26(9), 1489–1496.