3 Fun Free Speech/Language Therapy Ideas for Halloween!

Teaching emotions at Halloween- Looks-Like-LanguageTeaching emotions and more at Halloween- Looks-Like-Language has some easy ideas!
Halloween brings out lots of different emotions for your little ones! Are you crafty at all? If so, keep reading to get some great free ideas!

Not crafty? Don't worry! Read on to get some ideas and a link for a ready made paper version that will get you great results!

In this activity, I’ve hidden small pumpkins with varied emotions on their faces inside the pumpkin bag. Elicit their targeted speech or language production and then they can pick a pumpkin out of the bag. Language to model includes spatial concepts (in, out, on,) emotion vocabulary, descriptive words (scary, spooky, funny, silly.)  Little ones will have fun just playing the game, but you can make duplicates of  the emotion pumpkins to play and see who gets the most matches.
Using felt is such an inexpensive, versatile way to make your own therapy materials!  With every color available, you can make simple felt shapes to match every holiday and season. All it takes is the right color felt, a marker, a simple shape you can draw (believe me, I’m no artist!) and a glue gun to keep it closed. In a hurry? Staple the sides together and put some scotch tape over the staple backs if you have concerns about pricking little fingers.
Get a piece of felt that is double the size of the shape. Draw the shape with the permanent marker, fold the felt in half and cut around the shape you drew. Glue gun (or staple- tape doesn’t hold) the sides together and voila! You have a cute little felt bag to hide things in, or a puppet.

When there are no issues of tactile defensiveness, little ones love to  find whatever is hiding inside the bag. It’s kind of like getting a present! For kids with sensory issues, I’ve found it helpful to show them what is inside and then just place the bag on the table. Felt is a soft, familiar material and many kids will explore it on their own when they are totally in charge of the pace. For kids who still have issues, try making a mini version that you leave on the table in front of them and just let them peek or participate in whatever way they can handle until the activity is familiar.

Other ways I’ve played this game include hiding some little wrapped candies amidst the felt pumpkins, placing small Halloween toys inside for the students to play with until their next turn, and using pictures of varied Halloween vocabulary for talking about after being picked.  
You can also use the bag for a fun listening activity. Describe one of the picture cards you used that session to elicit speech language goals and see who can find the correct picture first to put in the pumpkin bag. Therapy and clean up all in one!

Here are some of the toys I’ve hidden in my bag. 

Don’t put them all in at once.  Add a new toy at intervals, maybe every other session or so. You will see when your little ones get the language you’ve been modeling or start losing interest. After they have explored the new toy, bring out the non-familiar ones for a little describing and comparing/contrasting.  Did you notice I have a variety of colors and textures there?

Did I say compare and contrast? You’ll notice there are two ghosts there. One works as a puppet and one doesn’t. One is small and one is big.  One is fuzzy (felt) and one is smooth (fabric.) One is happy and one is sad.

Make the ghosts do some fun flying around and saying "Boo!" so your little one wants to request it. Watch where she is looking so that you are sure to give her the one she doesn’t want. “Oh, you didn’t want the little one? Maybe you wanted the BIG ghost. Tell me, which one do you want?” Just like that, you’ve set up a situation that will get your little one to use a describing word!

Puppets are such a great therapy tool for little ones! They let you adopt another voice, play little games like giving and taking a toy, or tickling in a way that is so much safer than interacting with a new adult. Often I’ve had little ones who wouldn’t talk to me speak to the puppet with no problems at all.  Puppets even give us the freedom to be a little silly in a way that might be uncomfortable otherwise (especially with a new parent observing!)

I love crafting therapy materials! Did I manage to convince you that you can do this, too?  If you don’t enjoy making materials, don’t have the time, or work with older students, take a look at my Halloween Emotions Game. It is also lots of fun and there are emotions in this packet that I could never draw!

What’s your favorite Halloween therapy activity?
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