Halloween Activities for Speech and Language

Halloween is almost here and children everywhere are getting excited about costumes and candy!  Now is a great time to use the excitement of Halloween to get kids excited about working on speech and language skills.  Here are some Halloween activities that will get your little ghoul or goblin jumping for joy about speech and language!

Making Pumpkin Faces

halloween speech therapy ideas
Click Here to Get the Pumpkin Game for Free!

I created this file folder game by gluing paper pumpkins onto a file folder and then cutting out facial feature pieces.  Then, I put Velcro dots (can be found at most craft stores or wal mart) on the pieces and the pumpkins so the faces can be switched up. This game is tons of fun and you can work on many different speech and language skills, such as the ones listed below.  You can also work on many of these same skills while painting or carving real pumpkins, or while playing with Mr. Potato Head toys.

Vocabulary: Talk about the parts of a face while you make pumpkin faces.

Target vocabulary: eyes, nose, mouth, ears, feet, hat, hair, boy, girl, face

Spatial Concepts: Talk about where the pieces should go on the pumpkin.  Ex: “Do the eyes go at the top or bottom of the pumpkin?” “Do the feet go above or below the pumpkin?”

Target concepts: top, bottom, above, below, middle, side, left, right, high, low

Pronouns/Possessive (Pro)nouns: Designate one face as the girl and the other as the boy (use the hat and ponytail). Pronouns: Ask your child, Who needs a nose? …”He does” or “She does” or “They do”I want a nose”       “What do you want?”

  • Possessive Nouns: Ask your child, Whose nose is this? …”The boy’s” or “The girl’s
  • Possessive Pronouns: Ask your child, What is this (are these)? …”His nose” or “Her nose” or “Their noses
  • Ask your child, Whose is this (are these)? …”his” or “hers” or “theirs”

Target concepts: he, she, they, I, you, his, her, their, hers, theirs, possessive ‘s

Grammatical Markers:

  • Plurals: Ask for 1 or 2 of each piece “I want two eyes please”
  • Present Progressive: Put on one piece and talk about what the pumpkin is doing. If he only has eyes, then “He is looking
  • Articles: Make sure your child is using articles (like the and a) when asking for things “I want the big nose please”
  • Past tense: Ask your child: What just happened? …“I put on a nose” or “He put on the mouth”

Conjunctions:I want a nose and a mouth”

Answering Questions:

  • What piece do you want next?
  • What does your pumpkin still need?
  • Where are you going to put the nose?
  • What are you doing
  • Who is the boy?
  • Who still needs a nose?
  • Whose is this?
  • How many ears does he have?
  • How can you tell this is the girl pumpkin?
  • When do you brush your teeth?
  • Function: What do you do with your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, feet?

Following Directions: Practice following one-step and multi-step directions by asking your child to put on certain pieces in order. Ex: First, put on the nose.  Then, put on the eyes  

Adjectives: Receptive: Describe the piece you want your child to pick up Expressive: Have your child describe which piece he wants

*You can take turns giving and taking directions Target concepts: size, color, shape, emotions (the mouths are happy, sad, or angry)

Pragmatics: Have your child work with another child to create pumpkin faces.

  • Turn taking: Have your child take turns with another child
  • Conversational Repair: Have your child give a direction to the second student. The second child must then either follow the direction or ask for clarification if he didn’t understand.  This helps them understand they must be specific in their directions and it gives them practice asking for help or clarification when they don’t understand.

Target skills: Initiation (asking for a piece), topic maintenance, and maintaining joint attention with a peer (or adult)

Sorting: Sort by one or two criteria:

  • Have your child sort into two piles, such as “Put the eyes over there and the noses over here (1 criteria)” or “Put all the big ones there and the little ones here (1 criteria)”
  • Have your child sort into piles using two different descriptors, such as “Put all the big eyes there and the little eyes here” (2 criteria-make sure there are other pieces, like noses and ears, on the table so your child is not just sorting big vs. little)

Describe Similarities and Differences Have your child explain how the two faces are alike and different.

  • They both have noses
  • They both have blue eyes
  • One has big eyes and the other has little eyes

Dressing Up and Pretending for Perspective Taking and Social Skills

One huge part of Halloween is putting on costumes and masks and pretending to be someone or something else.  This can be a great exercise for our children with speech and language delays.  Pretending to be someone else requires the child to take the perspective of someone else and use language to express things from that point of view. Taking on another person’s point of view can be very difficult for children with social language delays.  This can cause problems because the child doesn’t understand how other people feel or why they act the way they do.  It can also make it hard for children to know how they should behave in response.  Practicing pretending to be someone else is way more fun when you get to use costumes or masks.  Here’s how you can use dress-up and pretending to work on perspective-taking and social skills: Describe a scenario to the child.  Take a look at social situations that the child has difficulty with at school or in public.  For older children, this may be complex social interactions that they have trouble with, like introducing themselves to a new person, or knowing how to respond when someone asks them a question.   For younger children, you may want to look at situations where they aren’t sure how to behave, such as when playing at the park or waiting in line at the grocery store. Once you have a situation picked out, describe it to the child but use made-up characters for the people in the story, instead of the child himself.  Give the child a mask that represents the main character and ask the child to pretend to be that character and have him take a guess at what he should do. You can use paper plates with faces drawn onto them for this or find some actual masks at a Halloween store. Then, talk with the child about what may be the end result if the main character acted that way.  For example, let’s pretend your scenario is “Johnny is waiting in line at the grocery store and he wants a candy bar.”  You ask the child to pretend to be Johnny.  If your child pretends to take the candy bar without asking, talk through what the result of that would be (getting arrested for shop-lifting, his mom getting mad, etc.).  Then, come up with some better options and have the child act it out again.  Talk about what the result would be for that response. You could also use a few different characters and have some of them behave correctly and some of them behave incorrectly.  For example, you could have a meddlesome ghost that always says or does the wrong thing to cause chaos and the good fairy who always does the right thing.  Then, you could have each of those characters act out the right and wrong way and discuss what the results would be. Another variation on this would be for you to be the main character and have the child put on a mask to respond to your behaviors.  In the example above, you could be the child that takes the candy bar without asking and have the child pretend to be the mom or the store clerk and respond to that behavior.

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