Getting off the Treatment Treadmill – Part 3


Do you feel like mice on a treadmill when you get out your Speech Therapy homework? Lack of progress in therapy is often caused by lack of practice, and lack of practice is often caused by lack of motivation.

My first post went into general reasons why kids may be unmotivated to do their home practice and some strategies to combat these problems. My second post gave some ideas for involving active kids, who don’t like sitting down to do homework.

In this third and final post on this topic, I’ll share more game ideas so that you can spice up your therapy homework and step off that treadmill!

Favourite Games

Use toys and games that you already have at home, or consider buying something new. (To keep down costs, you can look in Op-Shops, Buy-Sell-Swap websites or more affordable stores like K-Mart. Capitalise on sales-times.) Choose a game which has lots of little bits (being aware of risks of small toys with young children) – eg. Barbie with lots of clothes, Pop-Up-Pirates with lots of swords, Who Shook Hook, Barrel of Monkeys, supermarket/pretend food, playdough with lots of cutters, medical kit, etc, etc. Before drawing out a new piece of the game, your child must first say a word a few times. To make this game even more exciting, you can use a “feely bag”, so that the child draws one out at a time but time the toy is a surprise.

Birthday Party Game

Do you have left-over party bags or wrapping paper? Hide a practice card in each one or wrap each one up in paper. Pretend you are having a party. Make a cake out of playdoh, letting your child practice a word before putting a candle on the cake. Then let her open one “present” at a time. She says the practice word 3 times to put it in her present pile. You could also make a “Pass the Parcel” – after wrapping up the surprise gift in the middle, get her to help you make the parcel by placing on the sticky tape. Place a card in each layer, practising the words as you wrap. Later on, play the game with music. Cheap but fun prizes may be a stamp, bubbles, a lolly, a Kinder Surprise or a small toy.

Board or Card Games

Play Snakes and Ladders, Very Hungry Caterpillar game, Bingo, Uno or any childrens’ board or card game. Each player picks a speech card or points to a speech word on the practice sheet, says the word, then gets to roll the dice, pick a game card, do the spinner, etc.

Blocks, Lego and Duplo

Take turns saying words to get to add another piece onto the structure. You can also do this with puzzles.

Use Books

  1. Activity Books: Buy a book with simple colouring and preschool activities. Let your child pick a picture in the book. After she says a word she can colour one part of the picture. Then you take a turn to say a speech word and colour a section of the picture. Take turns until the picture is completed. You can play a similar game with dot-to-dot pages.
  2. Make an alphabet book: Write an alphabet letter at the top of each page of a spiral notebook. Add pictures (clip art, cut from magazines or hand-drawn) with a written word under each for each speech practice word. Keep adding new words to the book each week.

Use the Computer

  1. Typing Fun: Help your child type a speech practice sound, syllable, or word on the computer. Have her say the word 3 times, then copy and paste it on the computer. She can do this multiple times, saying the word each time it’s pasted. Print this out and mail it to someone special. Play around with different fonts, colours and paper.
  2. Finding Fun Pictures: Use google images to search for the pictures of the words you are practising. Let your child choose the pictures that he likes and copy them into a word or publisher document. Older children could also be assisted with copying pictures into a powerpoint presentation, which can then be used to practise their sounds or words.
  3. Speech and Language Apps: There are some great apps out there. Ask your therapist for some suggestions. If you wish to avoid an American accent but can’t find an appropriate app with an Aussie accent, you can turn off the sound and do the talking yourself.

Make a Photo Album

Use a small photo album that holds single pictures on each page. Take pictures that represent the sound you are working on. Use your child in as many of the pictures as possible. You could also get your child to take the photos himself. Write the target sound, syllable, word, or phrase under each picture or on a label so that everyone who looks at the book with the child will know what word to practice. This also encourages early reading skills. It is a great way to build a core vocabulary for children with limited language, and to practise repeatedly words that are important to them – eg. their name, their friends’ names, or their favourite activities, toys and foods.

Different Places

  1. In the Car: The car is a great place to practice. Put the speech words or pictures on cards, punch a hole in one corner of each card and put them on a special keyring for your child. Every time you stop at a red light see if you and your child can say one of the words 3 times before the light changes.
  2. Making the Most of Mealtimes: mealtimes are a great way to incorporate the whole family into practice. Have your child “hide” a card under serviettes, placemats or plates as you set the table. She has to say the word 3 times to hide the card. When everyone sits down to eat, each person lifts their serviette to find a card. Your child tells them what the word is and they must repeat it after her one to 3 times before they can eat dinner
  3. The Magic Word: Put practice cards on doorways around the house. To go through the doorway each person must say the “magic” word 3 times.
  4. The Great Outdoors: see my last post about engaging active kids, for ideas on how to get therapy into the great outdoors.

Different Practice Partners

If available you could get a special person to do the speech sessions with the child (eg. a different family member or friend who is able to help out). They should attend at least one appointment with the therapist to make sure they know what to do with the program.

Well that does it. Lots of tips and fun ideas for getting you and your child excited about therapy. If you still have concerns about this topic, I encourage you to speak to your therapist.


Thanks to Robin Strode, M.A., CCC-SLP for contributing to some of these game ideas.

Disclaimer: This advice is not intended to replace the recommendations of a Speech Pathologist for an individual with a communication impairment. If you have concerns about your child’s speech and language development, please contact a Speech Pathologist. Early detection and early intervention works.