"If I could rearrange the alphabet, I would put U & I together."
"Are you a parking ticket? Because you have FINE written all over."
"Do you have a map? Because I keep getting lost in your eyes."
Wait, what? This is a speech therapy lesson plan?
Oooops, sorry! Wrong type of conversation starter activities. Read below for the best ideas on starting conversations with your STUDENTS!
At the dollar store you can purchase popsicle sticks.
Tape the flowers (in this free download) to the popsicle sticks and put them in a pot with sand or pebbles to hold them upright. On each flower write an open-ended question.
You can either come think up your own, or use the ones here on HomeSpeechHome. Have the students take turns choosing a flower and reading the question aloud.
Encourage them to answer using full sentences and then they ask you the same question on the flower to practice back and forth conversations.
A very easy topic for conversation starters is family.
Everybody has a family of some sort or another, and there is usually a lot of subject matter. It’s (typically) a very familiar and comfortable topic for a child, and an easy way to elicit a lot of conversation.
I found a website that has free printables of family trees...this would be a good place to start when talking about family.
Find the right one for your students and help them fill it out.
Then ask questions about each family member. Their likes, their dislikes, personality traits, even details of the decorations of their bedrooms and their physical features.
Another activity using families...Ask the child to bring pictures of their family members to therapy, or you can cut out pictures from a magazine or draw pictures to represent each family member.
Glue or tape the pictures to different pieces of paper. Then use markers to write facts and details all around the person, such as...
“My sister has brown hair. She likes to play softball. She loves Peanut butter.”
When the pictures are completed with written facts, have the child hold the pictures and tell you all about each family member without assistance.
You can even have your student bring a friend with them to therapy and tell them all about their family members.
Another very familiar and comfortable subject for children is traditions.
Nothing gets them more excited than talking about holiday traditions! For this activity, I suggest making a book for each holiday or event that they celebrate.
All you need are a few blank pages stapled together.
At the top of each page write the name of each holiday, and include their birthday.
If you have a students with multicultural backgrounds, do a little research and incorporate holidays and traditions that are familiar to them.
If you have a reader/writer, make a list of the traditions on each page.
If you are working with younger students or students not fluent in writing, have them draw pictures as you talk about their traditions.
Included topics could be decorations, food, activities, favorite memories, and even wishes for future celebrations.
The best part about this book is that you can keep it in their folder and refer back to it throughout the year.
You can make the book all at one time, or add to it each time a holiday is near. Talking about holiday traditions will NEVER get boring to children! (Or adults for that matter!)
You will have a lot of stimulating conversation with this topic.
Get a large rubber bouncy ball at the grocery store; the kind that you always see on end aisles in a tall basket.
The kind that make your own children go nutty nuts when you pass by.
If you don’t have access to a ball you can use a balloon.
Use a permanent marker to write questions all over the ball.
This will be your “Conversation Ball.”
You can use and re-use this all year long for a variety of therapy goals!
Toss the ball back and forth and have the child read an open-ended question and answer it before tossing it back to you or to someone else in the group.
The Word Vault Essential app will give you hundreds of ideas for open ended questions right at your fingertips and allow you to take data as the kids play the game.
As a graduate student I worked with a young child learning to use a speech output AAC device.
My goals with him were all about output.
I wanted him to talk as much as possible during our sessions.
I created a large die that I made using a poster board. If you don't have a die in your therapy room you can download and print this free template to make your own.
Once the die is made, print 6 pictures of topics the child can talk about and glue (or tape if you want to reuse the die) each picture to a side of the die.
At the top of each picture write the words “Tell me about...”
Examples of pictures could be a spider to represent fears they have, a bed to represent their bedroom, a family to represent their family, food to represent their favorite food/meal, a DVD to represent their favorite movies, etc.
The sky is the limit!
Just like the ball game, this die can be used over and over again for a variety of expressive language therapy goals, and it is really fun to play with a group.
The book “If...Questions for the Game of Life” is probably my favorite therapy tool of all time.
It is good for older children and adults who are capable of thinking deeper about questions.
The questions in this book are very thought-provoking.
*NOTE: Some may contain adult subjects so I have used post-it notes in my book to indicate questions suitable for a younger audience.
These are my favorite types of questions to stimulate conversation.
If you don’t have access to this book or you are not ready to purchase it, I have included some If questions below that you can still have fun with.
Using these conversation starter activities to elicit expressive language is really fun therapy.
Even your shyest students will have fun with these lessons.
(And if the brilliant pick-up lines land you a date, you can thank me later!)