Therapy on the Playground

September 26, 2011 BY Kira Wright, CCC-SLP

This is a part of a continuing series of posts on therapy ideas for assistants (SLPAs) and paraprofessionals in the schools to support their work with students and their supervising SLPs.

Enjoy the glorious fall weather – plan an outside therapy day!

1) Review the goal areas of your students

  • Could students with articulation goals list outside words or point to objects with their target sound – could they make the sound in isolation as they point to them? or put them in carrier phrases or create sentences?
  • Students with goals for basic concepts (up/down, under/over, across, behind, big, bigger) could find examples and label them with sticky notes, or show them to the group.
  • Think of all the ways to practice using these basic concept words – or other outside vocabulary – to practice listening and following multi-step directions!
  • Anything you can do with a picture card in the therapy room – you can do outside with a real object! Use descriptive language to play a guessing game or come up with as many functions as you can for a given piece of playground equipment.
  • And what more perfect place to talk about pragmatics?! Students could list or categorize the types of conflicts that arise on the playground, talk about different solutions and resources available, and even role-play onsite!

2) Bring a picture of a playground to the therapy table and spend one session planning your outing

  • Use a picture of a playground, or better yet, a photo or drawing of your school’s playground, to structure your planning session.
  • Involve the students in planning the outing – they’ll be more engaged in the lesson, more likely to understand the expectations when you head out (it’s not recess, is it?), and therapy targets are addressed twice – once in planning and once in doing!

3) Head outside!

  • Look for a quiet time on the playground or a quiet corner of the school grounds.
  • Review your plan and go enjoy the great outdoors!
  • Could you use an additional session to review and recap what you did? Report on your outing to another group or to a teacher? Plan the next outing? What other places can we use to practice our speech/language goals?

SLPAs and paraprofessionals should always operate within the scope defined by state and national licensing organizations and should only conduct allowable tasks under the supervision of a speech-language pathologist.