No-Prep, High-Rep Speech Therapy Sessions (For Groups or Individual)
Welcome to week 7 of our SLP Summer Organization Series! In case you missed any of our previous posts, we’ve already discussed the following:
- Week 1: Build Your “Speech in a Box” Core Materials Kit
- Week 2: Create Your Activity Binders
- Week 3: Organize Your Larger Materials
- Week 4: Must Have Manipulatives for SLPs
- Week 5: Carrie’s Favorite Games and Toys for SLPs (And How to Organize Them)
- Week 6: How to Organize Your Speech Therapy Room (Or Car…Or Closet)
Now that we have all of your STUFF organized, let’s organize your speech therapy sessions! Today we’re talking about a convenient way to set up your sessions so that you get more reps with less prep time. This type of session can work for big groups all the way down to individual sessions.
Carrie’s High-Rep, No-Prep Session Formula
- First 5 Minutes ~ Warm Up: Clients grab their folders and begin their warm-up independently, SLP monitors for regression
- Middle of Session ~ Stations: Clients practice their skills independently at stations while SLP works with each child individually
- Last 5 Minutes ~ Copy Machine Walk of Fame: Clients practice their skills w/SLP while walking to the copy machine to copy pages for homework and/or client folders
OK, don’t get scared off yet! I’m going to explain how to make all of these steps work with little effort from you. You just have to set it up and this can work for your clients, as well! The general idea is that your clients will practice their skill at an easier level independently and then work on that same skill at a harder level when its their turn to see you 1:1. During your time with the child, you work on the next level up from where they are practicing independently and then switch out their worksheets when they’re ready to practice the next hardest level independently.
For example, let’s say Johnny is working on the /g/ sound. He can say /g/ in single words but struggles at the phrase level. You have him practice /g/ in single words at the various stations because that will help the new /g/ pathway in his brain get nice and strong. Then, when it’s his turn to work with you 1:1, you work intensely on phrases with him. Once he gets to the point where he’s good at phrases as well, you switch out his /g/ words worksheet for the /g/ phrases worksheet. Then, he starts practicing the phrases independently and your 1:1 time switches to working on sentences.
This isn’t perfect for every type of therapy but it can work great for many different skills if done correctly. Let’s dive in on how to set this up.
How to Set Up Client Folders
For this session format, you’ll need to have one folder for each child on your caseload. These can be stored in hanging files near the door to your office. Each child will grab his folder on the way into speech.
Inside the folder, you’ll keep pages that the child is working on in speech. These will be photocopies of materials that you’re using with the child. You have a few options for folders. You can use project books like I have here that already contain clear plastic page protectors. Then, you can just slide the worksheets/materials into one of the page protectors and slide it out when the child is done. Or, you can use regular folders (3 prong or otherwise) to store the sheets. I’ll link you to a few of my favorites on Amazon.
All you need to do to set these bad boys up is just write names or initials on them and throw them in the box. I’ll show you how to use them in the next section.
Amazon Affiliate Links to My Favorite Tools for Client Folders:
I get a small commission if you purchase through my links. Thank you in advance if you do!
These are small notebooks/folders that have plastic page protectors already attached inside. You simply drop your paper into a pouch and then you can use a dry erase marker on it to complete the worksheet. I chose colored books by True Trend, but they can get pricey if you have a lot of clients. Plus, the reviews on Amazon show that some people are getting oddly-sized ones. Mine were fine but other people have had trouble. I'll link you to two different ones.
Basic 3-Prong Folders
These will also work and are the inexpensive Amazon brand. These 3-prong folders will allow you to add worksheets directly or add some plastic page protectors so you can drop the worksheets into the top like in the presentation books.
Dry Erase Page Protectors
Most plastic page protectors should work with a dry erase marker but some are harder to erase than others. I like that these clearly state that they're good for dry erase markers. Add these to your 3-prong folders to make it easier to add and remove pages.
Clear Hanging Folders
You can use any color of hanging folder that you want but I personally love the look of these clear folders, especially if you have colored folders or presentation books! I'm adding the Amazon affiliate link for the clear ones in case anyone else thinks this is super cool! 😉
Hanging File Box
Here's the file box that I have and I love it! It's just the right size and I like that you can snap the lid on to cover it up as needed. Plus it comes in a 4-pack so you can use the rest for stackable storage in your storage space, as well.
How to Set Up Your Stations
During the middle part of your session, your clients will practice their skill at a variety of stations. The stations are intended to give the children something to do while they work. Research shows that moving the body during a learning activity can improve retention by activating more parts of the brain! This will also keep your clients busy doing plenty of reps while you work intensively with one client at a time.
For this part, you’ll need “stations”. These can be actual stations set up around your room, or they can be bags with specific activities that you can pass out to your clients. The goal of a station is to provide the child with something to do that can be done easily and quickly while still practicing their skill. For example, you can trace a line while saying a sound over and over. And you can hold a yoga pose while saying your list of words.
I suggest you just throw together several bags like this and have them ready to pull out during your sessions. Here are a few of my favorite stations bags (Amazon links are affiliate links):
Grab some fun yoga cards like these and throw a few into the yoga station bag. Instruct the child to hold one yoga pose while he says all of the words on his list or practices his skill a certain number of times. Tell the child that after he's done, he can pick a new yoga pose and do it again.
Gross Motor Station
Write a variety of gross motor actions on Popsicle sticks. Instruct the child to pull one out of the bag and do that action while she says her entire word list or practices her skill a certain number of times. Then, have her choose a new stick and do it again.
For older children, instruct them to write their words/skills as they say them. For younger children, have them draw a picture of each word or just scribble while they practice their skill.
Draw lines on paper (or find tracing pages already made) and laminate them. Then, add some dry erase markers. Have the child say his sound/word/skill over and over while tracing each line.
Fine Motor Station
Instruct the child to say one word or practice their skill one time while stacking a block on top of a tower. See how high the child can make the tower before it falls. Then, try again!
Provide the children with a sensory activity such as this kinetic sand, Play-Doh, a box of dried beans, etc. Instruct the child to squish/squeeze/scoop/pour while saying his/her words or skills.
How to Structure Your Sessions:
On a child’s first day of therapy, show him how to find his folder from the box. For a great “get-to-know-you” activity, get out some stickers and sharpies and let the child decorate his folder. Or, if you plan on re-using the folders, let the child decorate a cover sheet that goes into the first page protector. Then, add a few pages that represent skills that the child needs to work on (but make sure they’re fairly easy to start with). We’ll talk more about what to add in a moment.
On every session after the first, you’ll follow the same format:
First 5 Minutes: Warm Up
Teach each child to grab his or her folder on the way into speech. As everyone is coming in and getting ready, your clients will open their folder to the page you indicate (based on which skill you’re working on that day). Instruct the children to quietly practice what is on that page. This may be saying words that contain the target sound, saying a sound in isolation, using sentences to describe pictures, etc.
The goal for the warm up is to have the child practice the skill at a level he or she can do independently. For example, if the child is working on a sound at the single word level, then the warm-up should be the sound in syllables. This worksheet should already be in the notebook from your last session (see the section on “last 5 minutes” below) so you don’t actually have to prep for this before your session.
What’s the SLP’s Role?
While the students are practicing their warm-up skills, you will listen to the children and make sure that no one has had any crazy regression since your last session. As mentioned before, the children should be independent at their warm-up level. This will also give you a few moments to grab any therapy materials or visuals that you will need for the session.
The Middle Part of the Session (However Long You Have):
Now comes the work part. Hand out the station bags that you created above or send the children to the different stations if you have them scattered across the room. Instruct each child to work on his/her skill at that station until the timer goes off. Keep one child with you at the SLP station. Divide up your time so that you have the same number of minutes for each child and set a timer. (For example, if you have 20 minutes and 4 children in your group, set a timer for 5 minutes) If you are only working with one child, start the child with you and then let him pick a station once you’ve worked with him for a while.
When the Child is With You (The SLP Station):
When each child in the group is with you, your job will be to help him work on the next hardest level of his current skill. For example, if he’s able to do /g/ in single words, you’ll spend your 1:1 time with him working on /g/ in phrases. Provide cues, prompts, and feedback to help the child achieve that next level. If you see that the child is mostly independent with the new level of that skill, make note of that so you can make new worksheets for his notebook during the “last 5 minutes” part of this session. Then, if the child has another station to go to after you, let him take the worksheet or cards with him to work on the harder skill.
If the child is not yet able to complete the harder skill independently, you will keep his notebook (and homework) page the same so he can keep working at the easier level during his independent work time.
When the Child is at a Different Station:
When the child is working at a station without you, you will instruct him to practice the page in his notebook some more. This should be the skill level that he can do independently. Practicing the skill at this level will help retrain his brain so that the new way of producing that sound or skill becomes more natural. This will make it easier for the child to get to that next level when he’s back at your station.
Last 5 Minutes: Copy Machine Walk of Fame
For the last 5 minutes, you’ll walk your clients down to the copy machine to make copies of their work for homework and their folders. The copy machine walk of fame serves a few purposes. First, it allows you to work on some carry-over outside of your speech room (assuming the copy machine is not in your office). While you walk, you will be reminding the children about their sound/skill and pointing out when you hear it correctly or incorrectly in their conversational speech. Second, you get to make copies of the pages for homework and for their folder. This means that your next session will be already prepped so you don’t have to prep beforehand.
What to Make Copies Of:
If one of your clients has become independent on the next level of her skill, you’ll make a copy of the next hardest skill level and stick it in her folder. Or, you can always just write down a list of words or sentences that you want the client to practice (if she can read). Make sure you make two copies of these and send one home. You can jot a quick note at the top of the worksheet about how you want the parents to practice at home. If the child did not achieve the next level yet, you can always just copy the old one and send it home for homework again so the parents know what you’re working on.
Where to Find Worksheets for This:
If you’re looking for worksheets to use for this type of therapy, you’ll want to check out our membership program and our No-Prep Materials Kits. We have a ton of great pre-made worksheets that can be used for homework or therapy sessions.
Ok, in case you got lost in there, let me sum it up! This type of therapy is all about getting high reps packed into one session by having a stations approach. Your clients will practice their skill independently at stations while you take the time to work 1:1 with each student in the group to help them achieve success at the next highest level of that skill. If you’re working with a child in an individual session, you’ll do all of the stations with the child.
There you have it! We hope this was helpful and that you are able to pack more reps into your group sessions with this new format.