This slightly messy speech activity has been a hit for me over the years, especially with preschool and Kindergarten aged kiddos, and is easily tailored to either articulation or language treatment.
Shallow plastic tub (for holding water) with a lid
Shallow tub of sand (Moon sand is less messy, but any kind will do)
Green carpet square or small green towel
Towel or rag for clean up
Assortment of plastic animals or vehicles
On our treatment table I arrange the four different “climates”:
Water (1” in shallow tub)
Snow (shaving cream, sprayed in the lid from the water tub for easy clean-up at the end)
Sand/desert (1-2” in shallow tub)
Grass (green towel or carpet square)
Although it seems like the activity would quickly get out of hand, I’ve been surprised by the number of children that need a lot of encouragement to really get their hands in there—especially with the shaving cream. I never force a sensory experience. For some, the scent of the shaving cream might be as much as they can handle. But often if we hold an animal carefully and just get his feet “cooled off” or “snowy”, eventually the child will accept some of the texture on their own hand.
Usually, I’ll have some animals or animal families, but with some young boys working on language development, I’ve had great success with cars and trucks. I’m listing some sample items and related dialog below, but you can easily adapt this to your client’s needs.
Final /air/: a bear family or assortment of bear types (black, brown, polar, panda, etc.); other possibilities would be a mare or hare
“Mama Bear is in the water. Let’s call her baby. ‘Bear! Bear!’”
Final /ear/: a deer family
“Baby deer is scared of the snow. Let’s help him. Say ‘Here deer. Here deer’”
Initial /k, g/: cat and kitten; goat and kid
“Kitty is sleeping in the grass. Let’s wake her up. ‘Kitty! Kitty!’”
Isolated /s/: assortment of snakes
“Let’s help him slither through the sand. ‘Sssssss.’ Let’s slither through the grass, ‘sssssss’.”
Early Language Development: any items the child finds engaging
“In. In. Car in. (demonstrate putting the car in the snow; grab another car). In. In. (pause, allow the child to say ‘in’) Car in.” You can repeat this with a focus on “more”, “out” or the object name as well.
Multistep directions: assortment of animals or vehicles
“Put the cat in the snow and the dog in the sand.”
Descriptive concepts: Animals of varied size or color
“Put the small black cat in the grass.”
“Put the long blue snake in the sand.”
For an animal word list organized by articulation target and position, click Plastic Animal Word Lists.