As expressive and receptive language grows in preschoolers, it’s important to know how to teach basic concepts. It’s a frequent goal for my students every year. I teach them systematically with lots and lots of practice. This blog post is part of a partnership with Boardmaker by Tobii Dynavox. You can find Boardmaker symbols in my AAC resources but Boardmaker Online can be used for so much more than AAC. I’ve chatted about Boardmaker Visuals before but today, I wanted to highlight how I teach basic concepts using their resources.
How to Teach Basic Concepts in Preschool Speech Therapy:
- Create basic concept visual supports. Choose concepts that are opposites to make learning easier.
- Pair teaching with familiar toys for familiar nouns and verbs.
- Play with several different toys while focusing on the basic concept using modeling, cloze sentences, and songs. Scaffold support for your student.
- Play an interactive game that targets the skill.
- Work on carryover by incorporating the target concept in classroom directions/ home routines every day.
First, I make visuals for each concept I want to teach. Better than making concepts, using Boardmaker Online, I can just print the visuals someone else already created! I printed a set of basic concepts (Login, Search Activities, “Basic Concepts by age of mastery” by Ashley Mathew.
I printed mine on cardstock and cut them apart for each use in teaching. You can also just open them on the iPad or open them on the screen for teletherapy. When I am making target selections, I consider how I will teach the basic concepts. Usually this means, selected opposites (up/down, in/out) to teach at the same time. Contrasting vocabulary helps with making abstract words more concrete.
When I introduce a basic concept, I use a toy that the child is familiar with. This allows me to be confident that I’m not trying to teach new concepts and at the same time new vocabulary. I just want to focus on how to teach basic concepts, not also teach nouns and verbs. To teach, “together” and “apart” I got out our barn and animals. Kids usually learn “together” between age 2-3 but if not, we will explicitly teach the skill during language therapy. We used familiar verbs like “sleep, eat, and drive” in play paired with the targeted basic concept. The horse and cow can eat together but they drive apart in their tractors! When we start, I model dozens of sentences with the target skill. I like to make up little songs or rhymes and then use them as a cloze sentence for the student to fill in. After repeated exposure, I can ask the child to directly imitate my sentence. Hopefully, next the child spontaneously uses the target word in an utterance.
Next, we move to a new set of toys and use the same target visual from Boardmaker. Lego’s are a great play activity for teaching together and apart. We can build and play targeted those same basic concepts. Grab your musical instruments and knock different instruments “together”. Really, grab any toy from the shelf that will engage your student!
Next up, when considering how to teach basic concepts, I like to take the concept that I taught with direct instruction and move it into a game. Using the Boardmaker Student Center, I can assign students an interactive activity. When I’m using the interactive activities in therapy myself, I assign them to one student named “SLPStudent”. If I’m assigning it as homework, I create an actual student account. You easily email parents a QR code they hold up to sign in the Student Center on a computer or tablet. This makes a great activities to share on screen using Zoom or Google Meet! This pre-made activity from the Activities section of Boardmaker is super simple, which is great for my preschoolers. They can select which bugs to drag to the screen. We can work on spacing them together and apart. Then we can using the smaller/bigger button at the bottom of the screen for more basic concept building.
Lastly, I work on including the concept as part of a daily routine. I share the routine with the classroom teacher and parent so we’re all using consistent routines/language. This gives lots of changes for our students to hear the target words. During our current pandemic, we’re giving many reminders of social distancing and working on together/apart is super important. We can emphasize these concepts when giving directions throughout the day. We can identify when we see examples, “I see Jenny and Jojo are three feet apart, great job being safe during art class.”
From LinguiSystems Guide to Communication Milestones by Janet R. Lanza and Lynn K. Flahive Copyright © 2008 LinguiSystems, Inc
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