Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Speech Homework: 25 Alternatives to Speech Folders

When I first started my career as an SLP in the late 1970s, speech homework was a routine, but unsuccessful part of my therapy. Most of my caseload of 75 students were working on articulation goals.  I had an accordion file with worksheets labeled by phoneme and at the end of each session, a worksheet was added to each student's folder. Only a handful of students regularly returned the folders and even less actually practiced the activities. 

Fast-forward to 1990 (and the next 20 years) and my caseload consisted of students in special education programs needing much intervention in the area of language. Worksheets would not suffice.  Below, I have described 25 speech homework activities to use with students in early childhood and elementary grades. I have used many of these activities, but have also posted some new ideas that might easily work - none involve speech folders.  Scroll down to see my thoughts on packaging and returning homework. 

From Heard in Speech
1. For my Early Childhood Special Education classes, I sent home newsletters telling about current speech and language activities and providing suggestions for home practice. A similar idea, language at home, developed by Kristen at Heard in Speech, is a fabulous way to provide at home language enrichment activities for young students. 

2. Presentation counts!! I found some cute Articulation Boxes at Speech Gadget - these would be easy to use as speech homework. 

3. Legos - When my son out-grew his Legos, as all other toys, they were mine for therapy. Package some Legos in a small Ziploc  Instruct the child to build something with the Legos and bring it back to tell you about it. Great for the /l/ sound (Lego, blue, and yellow), articulation carry-over, and good for a number of language goals. 

4. Send home some old sequence cards or print some new ones.  The child can put them in order and tell someone about the sequence.  There are numerous sets of sequence cards at Make Learning Fun (search "sequence cards"). I saw cards for literature selections such as Go Away Big Green Monster, The Very Quiet Cricket, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Cookie's Week and many, many more. Find science related sequence cards such as Phases of the Moon and Sunflower Life Cycle. Others included hand washing, shoe tying, and nursery rhymes. 

5. Let a student take a doll, stuffed animal, or plastic figure home for night. When it is returned, ask questions such as "Where did he sleep?" "What did he eat?" "Did he like his dinner?" "What toys did he play with?" 

6. One of my students loved wearing a big sticker with "Ask me to say ______." written on the sticker.  By the time he walked from the speech room to his first grade classroom, he had the opportunity to say that word or phrase at least five or six times.  If the sticker made it home, even more opportunities. 

7. Books
  • Highlight target sounds in an old book.
  • Send home a mini-book with pictures of target vocabulary (make this with PowerPoint). 
  • For families with Internet, suggest reading a book on-line. We Give Books, Kizclub, and Lil' Fingers are three of many sites with books and stories. 
  • Send home a "book in a bag" complete with question cards or story props.  

8. Find great articulation board games at Adventures in Speech Pathology. Send home the game, buttons for game pieces, and a die. 

9. Monthiers posted by Speech Lady Liz.

10.  Speech Practice in a Box, Motivating Homework for Speech Practice. Posted by Deborah Adamczyk at Speaking of Speech.com (scroll down the page to find this). 

11. Send home articulation pictures or other activities along with a puppet. The puppet should practice the homework.  

12. For very busy parents, try the speech and language car activities found at North Shore Pediatric Therapy. 

13. Find File Folder Games at File Folder Farm.com and Ms. Arnold's First Grade Class

14. Memory, Snap, and Hide and Seek are a few of the many ways to make multisyllabic word practice fun at Play Talk Learn. These games could be adapted for so many goals.   

15. Keep a journal. Write a note (or add a pre-printed note) as to what the student should do for home practice. Examples of tasks could be counting to 25 using good sounds, repeating a target word five times, finding six soft things, five big things, or finding four things that begin with a particular phoneme. You can ask students to tell about a picture, put attached pictures in order, or draw a picture and tell about it. This is also a great way to communicate with parents - a simple note such as, Emma put three words together to say "cat in box" today., is very much appreciated by parents.

16. Use the wonderful activity calendars at Preschool Express for toddlers and preschool students.  

17.  For parents with Internet access, suggest web links for stories, language games, and articulation practice. Check out my web page with links sorted by category.  Or, if a parent has a tablet, suggest free apps. 

18. Again, for families with Internet access, Teacher Tube and YouTube have some great videos. I searched for "speech therapy" and came up with many good ideas.  My favorite was Doug the Dog Teaches About the Preposition "In" 

19 .  There are a variety of "flip" games on Pinterest. Find Pancake Flip at Speech Room News or download my version using eggs. Cut-out the eggs, glue vocabulary or articulation pictures on the blank sides, and laminate. Put the eggs face down on a table and as the child says the target words, he or she flips the eggs with a spatula.  Package a small dollar store spatula, the eggs, and instructions in a large envelope or Ziploc. 

21. Print and send home a craft activity from Kizclub. Don't forget to send home items needed such as a glue stick or brads. Include instructions for verbal interactions. 

20. Turn old games or toys into activities to send home. How cool would it be to bring a fun toy home for the weekend? 

22 Take a picture of the child doing something in therapy. Print the picture and send it home with instructions such as, "Ask your child to tell you _________ ."  

23. Try craft stick activities. Find Silly Speech Sound Sticks and Artic Sticks at Sublime Speech or use the French Fry Articulation from Speech Room News.  

24 Articulation /Vocabulary  tubs - Put 5 or 10 small objects and/or laminated pictures into a tub representing the child's target sound or vocabulary words.

25. Laminate a Parking Lot Game and send it home with one or more vehicles to practice a variety of speech and language activities. 

Packaging Makes a Difference

The package can make your speech homework a little more appealing.  Use old gift bags, tins, and interesting boxes. Old articulation cards on a ring or ribbon might get more results than a worksheet. Always add instructions such as "Please read this to your child and practice the highlighted words." "Ask your child to say these words using a good "s" sound." or "Ask your child to answer questions such as .......... as you read this book." AND, "Please return." or "You may keep this book."

Returning Homework

Early in my career,  I asked parents to sign homework, but as my experience grew and I changed my homework methods, I didn't see the need. If the students were motivated by the activity, I knew that it would be used in some form. The students also knew that when one "cool" activity was returned, they would receive another.  I can only recall losing one item (a book) during my 20+  years without folders.  

What do YOU use for speech homework?


© 2012

Some graphics from Discovery Education Clip Art Gallery


  1. This is great! As a SLP still learning the ropes and very much "anti-worksheet" I could see my students buying into many of these. Thanks!

    1. Thanks! I started packaging activities for a few students and soon I had many ready-made packages. I seldom needed to write notes to parents about the activities as notes were usually in the packages.

  2. Thanks for the link, and for the many other wonderful ideas for me to explore!

  3. This is Awesome! I really wanted an alternative to folders and you have offered so many choices! Now I just need to get everything together!

  4. What an awesome post! Wanted to use something else besides folders but didn't know where to begin. You've offered so many great ideas, I still don't know where to start!

    1. Thank you! I started with old books for articulation and sentence structure. Highlight the target throughout the book and glue pre-printed instructions for parents and students inside the book. There were no notes to write. I simply gave the book to the child with verbal instructions. After you have a stack, it's much easier than folders.

  5. I see PTs in an a clinic and have the luxury of knowing most of my kids teachers and school SLP. I try to set up a journal with each of my families to record the child's daily experiences and have a common place for all professionals to communicate. It doesn't always get used outside my office but at least there is one page added each week

    1. I like the journal. You can write as little or as as much as needed. The early childhood teachers that I work with send these home. They call them Language Books. It goes home daily with information about the day. If any contact is needed with the parent or private therapists, it's in the language book.

  6. I send home a sheet (just posted a new one today!). What I especially like about them is that I can put what we worked on today and how the kid's behavior was. Since I very rarely see parents, I figured out that this was the best way to try to communicate with them. I do ask for a parent signature back and then I keep track of the percentage of returned HWs. That way if a parent asks why their kids hasn't made much progress, I can easily know how much work has been done at home! ;)

    1. I really like your idea about keeping track of returned homework as part of your data. I downloaded your homework sheets for November. It's nice that they are leveled and the assignments are very easily manageable.

  7. I just recently started sending homework home. I had a few parents concerned that we only played games in therapy so I had to "teach" them strategies to help with what we were doing in therapy. Getting parents to sign and return anything has been almost impossible, especially the ones who complained. I think the packaging idea is great and I am going to start working on that asap. Thank you for the effort and time you spend working on your blog and sharing.

  8. Such great ideas! I'll certainly use some of these when I hopefully become a SLP. Love the book and "ask me to say __" ideas. I'll also try to make some newsletters or journals to give the parents info and tips!

  9. Such great ideas! I'll certainly use some of these when I hopefully become a SLP. Love the book and "ask me to say __" ideas. I'll also try to make some newsletters or journals to give the parents info and tips!

  10. I LOVE THIS POST!!!! Not sure how I missed this back when you first posted it but it is wonderful! I had been planning on doing a similar post soon and will link tot his one. For now, I'm pinning and sharing on Facebook! Thanks!!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing! I look forward to your post as you have such great ideas!!

  11. I also love this post. I am a new SLP and have been wanting to send home homework, but combined with everything else, it has been put on the back burner for the time being. Trying to come up with a variety of ideas to last the whole year seems daunting and overwhelming so I completely appreciate posts like this!

    I have sent home homework for a couple of students, however. I am not a fan of worksheets and have so far sent home a flying toy for some students working on /fl/ blends and a couple of books. This week I am planning on making go fish cards that have their target sounds in therapy with my students so that they can take those home to play with siblings or parents and use for homework.

    I am all about making homework (and therapy) fun and motivating.


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