Although many schools are back to face-to-face therapy, some SLPs are still looking for teletherapy ideas, especially for pre-verbal learners. There may be some cases in which families have been given the option to continue teletherapy this year and this may even be the case for next school year as well.
Doing teletherapy with pre-verbal learners can be especially tricky because it is harder to keep pre-verbal learners engaged over a screen. Here is a list of 8 teletherapy ideas for pre-verbal learners:
No matter the age, songs can always be more engaging than talking over a screen, but young students especially love songs! If you go to Youtube and search “super simple songs,” you will be pleasantly surprised at the wide variety of simple children’s songs to choose from. Classics such as Old MacDonald Had a Farm, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Five Little Ducks are among the many to choose from. You can share your screen during teletherapy to show your pre-verbal learner the interactive videos that go along with the songs to have an even better chance of engagement. Try singing along and doing hand movements to the songs as well.
If you are working with pre-verbal learners, chances are you are using an AAC method such as Core Vocabulary for communication.
Core Vocabulary Characteristics:
- Limited set of highly useful words
- Words apply across settings
- Vocabulary is made up primarily of pronouns, verbs, descriptors, and prepositions
- Very few nouns are included in a core vocabulary
- Consistent location of vocabulary
Incorporating Core Vocabulary into teletherapy activities for pre-verbal learners is very important and beneficial for functional communication!
Look: Go on a search in the house and look for simple items. “Look for a fork.” “Look for a bear.”
Go: Play “ready, set, go” with cars! Almost all students have a toy car and it can be so motivating!
On: Turn music on and off and have a dance party!
Balloonimals is a free app that is based on very simple skills, typically about things such as colors and shapes. You can mirror an ipad to your screen or simply search for Balloonimals on Youtube. Watch the balloon animals be blown up on screen just like in real life! This is the perfect app to use with Core Vocabulary. You can have students point to colors, yes/ no, more, etc. This is a great video from an SLP showing how she uses Core Vocabulary with Balloonimals. This would be a really great teletherapy lesson to use with your students!
4. Be Silly
If you are working on prelinguistic skills with your student(s), try doing anything to get a back and forth glance with your pre-verbal learners. This may sound way too simple but it works-try being silly! Wear wigs, funny hats, huge glasses, use puppets, etc. Then try doing things that are unexpected such as laying on the floor with your computer and going to sleep while snoring loudly. If you get a smile or giggle keep going! The sillier, the better in my opinion!
5. Teach Letter Sounds and Signs using Interactive Videos
When you’re working on an early target sound to encourage verbal imitation, try utilizing the letter sound videos on YouTube. There are many more letter sound videos than videos meant for speech therapy but we can use that! Try using Patty Shakula Videos to teach these skills. Pause the video during and have helpers do hand over hand imitation of the signs (parents can help). You could also take screenshots of the letters during the video and make a slideshow for recall at the end of the lesson. Put the signs in a field of 2 or 3 and say, ”Point to __.” Finally, use a core board to help students with requesting-stop, go, more, all done. Check out this blog post for more ideas on the best songs to use for teletherapy as an SLP.
6. Boom Cards
Boom cards are perfect for teletherapy and definitely help to keep younger learners engaged. You can create an account for each student and assign certain boom cards or simply share your screen during teletherapy and use the fast play cards. There are many free boom cards to choose from that target different speech goals.
7. Interactive Stories
Interactive stories are a lifesaver during teletherapy. Check out websites
such as Epic, Youtube and the app Headsprout for interactive stories to use during teletherapy for pre-verbal learners. Interactive stories are much more fun for students over a screen. The stories and pictures on the screen come to life and are more engaging for students to follow along with.
8. Hide objects and open on camera
This is such a simple and easy trick for engaging students during
teletherapy but it can be very effective. Take items such as easter eggs and hide toys in them. Give students clues and put them under your document camera to open. When you give clues, have students use core vocabulary to answer yes or no questions about the item. I love using mini objects during speech therapy and give lots of tips on how to do this here.
9. Activities from Project Core
The primary goals of Project Core are two-fold:
- Empower teachers and classroom professionals to deliver access to a Universal Core vocabulary and communication instruction during the naturally occurring academic and daily routines of the school day.
- Improve the academic achievement of students with significant cognitive disabilities as evidenced by gains in their communication and literacy skills, and ultimately in their end-of-year assessments.
Simply answer some questions about your student using the universal core selection tool. This will result in a recommended system to use to get started.
Do you have more teletherapy ideas for pre-verbal learners? If so, please share in the comments below!
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