Popsicle Stick Speech and Language Games!!

Ms. Carrie’s Popsicle Stick Game for Speech and Language Activities

There’s something about the random chance of drawing sticks from a cup that makes any activity more exciting!  My inspiration for this post was a picture I saw on Pinterest of a cup like this full of popsicle sticks with exercises on them.  The idea is that every so often you pull an exercise out of the cup and do it so that you’re not just stuck at your desk all day.  I made one for my office and quickly found that my kids love pulling these sticks out of cups.  Here is a list of ways that you can adapt this activity based on what speech or language skill your child is working on.  If your child is working on multiple skills (or you’re an SLP who works with a lot of different kids), make several sets of these and store them in ziptop baggies.  Then, just pull out whichever set you need that day.

Speech and Language Games 1: Speech/Articulation/Sound Production

Action sticks to make sound practice more exciting
So you have a list of words that your child needs to practice but he won’t sit down and do it?  Or your child needs to just practice saying a certain sound right over and over again until it becomes habit?  Try this!  Have your child help you write the names of different actions on popsicle sticks and then decorate the back sides however he/she wants.  The idea is that every time your child pulls out a stick, he has to perform that action while saying __ number of words or sounds from his list.  Then, he picks a new stick and does the next however many you’d like.  You can use simple actions like clap, stomp, jump, stand on your head, etc. or you can try adding some yoga poses or simple exercises.  

Speech sound stimulability warm-up
Research shows that when a child is able to produce a sound in isolation (like “sssss” for /s/), he is more likely to be learn how to say the sound correctly in words on his own than a child who does not know how to say the sound at all.  That’s why practicing sounds in isolation is so important!  If your child has trouble with a lot of sounds, doing a speech sound stimulability activity every day can be a great benefit to overall speech development.  This is also great for teaching your child letter-sound correspondences, a skill that’s very important for reading.  For this activity, write each letter of the alphabet on a popsicle stick (one sound per stick) and let your child decorate the backs.  Make sure you also include sounds that are made by two letters, such as “th”, “sh”, “ch”, and any sound blends that you want to include like “bl” or “tr”.  Have your child practice by pulling a stick out and saying the sound that goes with that letter or letter combination.

Speech and Language Games 2: Following Directions

Does your child have trouble following directions?  Try writing some common directions that you give your child throughout the day on popsicle sticks and let your child decorate the back. Choose things you often say to your child, like “get your shoes”, “come here”, “sit down”, etc. Have your child practice the direction after he pulls it out of the cup.  Once your child is pretty good at this, try pulling two sticks and see  if your child can follow two directions in a row!  If your child is struggling, try drawing a little cue on the stick that helps the child know what to do.  For example, if the direction is to get his shoes, draw a shoe on the stick.

Speech and Language Games 3: Vocabulary/Word Recall

Help your child work on vocabulary and word recall by creating sticks that prompt your child to think of a word or collection of words.  For example, you could write a category like “foods” and have your child list as many things from that category as possible.  You could also write a description of an object and have your child come up with the name of the object, such as “a red fruit with a stem”.  You could also do fill in the blank for common phrases, such as “a pair of _____”.

Speech and Language Games 4: Answering Questions

Help your child practice different types of questions by writing them on popsicle sticks.  Write vague questions that could be answered any day, like “what did you eat for breakfast” or “who did you play with today?”.  Try to include a variety of question forms that your child needs to work on, including yes/no, what, where, when, why, how, and who.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless.  You could make popsicle sticks for all kinds of great speech and language games.  You could even make worksheets more fun by writing numbers on sticks and whichever number you pull is the problem that you do next.

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