5 Tips- Get the MOST out of Your Mixed Group Sessions

Games! Yes, SLPs love to play games with their students, but there is a good reason for this.  Students who come to speech/language therapy walk in the door with a very mixed set of skill strengths and weaknesses, learning problems and strengths,  and IEP goals, all of which need to be remediated in a minimal amount of time each week.
Get the Most Out of Your Mixed Group Sessions! Looks-Like-Language
There is no curriculum to be taught that ties the group together, unlike their classroom, so a variety of activities are needed that lets each student be part of a group and get enough practice to learn at their own rate. Games, crafts and other activities fit the bill perfectly.

Beyond the planning needs of the SLPs is the need to have the students use their newly attained  speech and language skills  in as natural an environment as possible.  

When students are able to use their skills in a structured activity with lots of feedback, an SLP checks to see if they can continue to use the skill when they aren’t focusing specifically on their speech and language. If they maintain it during a fun activity, chances are the teacher and parents may see the skill being used as well.

How to do this? For a new SLP, this often feels like juggling practice. It helps at first to have a group data sheet so you aren’t juggling paperwork while modeling and eliciting speech/language skills, as well as monitoring behaviors in the group.  If you haven’t found a group data sheet that works well for you, check out this blog post. There’s a freebie download as well as links to other free data sheets on TpT. If you'd like some ideas for monitoring the bigger picture, check out this blog post.

Lots of games to make mixed groups cohesive! Looks-Like-Language
Board  games aren’t the only way to bring a group together, achieving all of these goals. Kids love games of all types! Some of my most successful games have been ones that I have put together from varied household items and junk that was lying around.

Tic-Tac-Toe!
Plastic egg cartons make great open ended tic-tac-toe tossing games! Pick up some themed erasers, puff balls, or any type of light weight item to throw. After each response, students get to toss one in, trying to get three in a row!

Construction!
Go to a yard sale to find some inexpensive building toys. Pictured is a monster set I found. Students get another piece to add on after each correct response. This motivates and keeps little hands busy while waiting for a turn!

Tossing Games!
Packing peanuts are fun to toss because they are surprisingly unpredictable yet won’t hurt anyone. I combined them with a toy hoop and a box to contain the game. Kids love it!

Look around your house and see what you can turn into a game! While these ideas can be great for drills, a little more creativity is needed to get students interacting with each other and using their skills to communicate.  Check in next week for more ideas!
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