6 Ideas for Engaging Older Speech Students

Blogs and Pinterest are loaded with adorable ideas for sensory bins and games targeting our preschool and elementary aged kiddos, but what about those older speech students? While some might argue that at that point they need to really buckle down and master those concepts or sounds independently, I’m not sure that the ideas are mutually exclusive.

I’m an adult and one with a pretty traditional learning style, but I’ll definitely stick with lessons longer—and try harder—if I’m enjoying myself along the way.  The nice thing is adding some excitement to older speech student sessions is really low prep.

  • Stage Narration: For this activity, one student narrates (and directs) the action. One or two other students stand to the side ready to act out what is said. You can either write up a short silly story with your targets ahead of time or have the narrator pull 1-3 cards with a word or phrase that they need to work into the storyline. For example, you might use articulation flashcards or have them order and “read” a 3-5 action sequence.
  • Morning Announcements: Have your student create silly announcements with words/phrases that you’ve pre-selected. Use an iPad to record their effort! For example, you might give them five words and ask them to come up with announcements that use their synonyms.
  • Uno: I saw this idea in Advance years ago and have used it with regularity, particularly with R students, ever since. Play the traditional way, but have each player announce what they are placing—green four, red eight, draw two.  This is great for carry-over of both R and S and challenging because they tend to get vested in the competition.
  • Song Lyrics: This can be a fun activity, but proceed with caution! I suggest printing out sections of popular songs in advance (just to be sure content is appropriate). Have one student read the lyrics for 30 seconds (use a timer). Once time is up, the others can compete to say the song title first. It can be harder than you think to id lyrics without the melody! AZLyrics and MetroLyrics are good sites for finding lyrics. ***You can also try this with Christmas carols during the holidays.
  • Hey, Siri: This is an articulation activity you can use with Siri or Alexa. Have students ask questions that contain their target sound—like “Siri, how many days until October 31st?” or “When is Talk Like a Pirate Day?” or “When is the next Friday the 13th?” Sports teams tend to be a popular topic too—“Siri, who do the Carolina Panthers play this week?” For students working on TH, you can ask questions like how long until Thanksgiving, what is next Thursday’s date, how long until 3:30 or how many days until September twenty-third. R and S targets are also easy to create.
  • Othello: I have students who love this game of strategy and I often stuck round stickers with targets on them in each square. You can read a full description of how to DIY here, or you can pop over to my store if you want it done for you.

Please share one of your favorite activities for older speech students below!

I’ve recently added a new Rock, Paper, Scissors game that targets carry-over. It’s another great way to engage older students!



The views expressed in this blog are my own and are intended to inspire other speech-language pathologists in their own practice. If you are a parent, teacher or other educator, these ideas are not intended to take the place of treatment by a certified clinician. Read full disclaimer here.