Language

Teen and Adult Activities
from many Speechtx visitors

1.  Have a set of cards, on each of which is written an idea which the client must talk about for 30 seconds.  Examples of ideas:  Explain to your parents why you didn't home at the agreed-upon time;  Pretend you are a weather forecaster and give the weather forecast; You are new to your class/place of work, and you must introduce yourself and tell a bit about yourself;  It's important to donate to charitable causes - do you agree?

2.  The client writes a short play, containing two characters, which is then acted out by the therapist and client together.  Depending on the cognitive level of the client, stick figures or puppets may be used to enhance interest and understanding.

3.  The client phones the therapist at an agreed-upon time, and discusses an agreed-upon topic.

4.  The client describes and draws simple pictures depicting the sequence of his/her day.

5.  The client answers "What If..." questions.  Examples:  What would you do if you found a hundred-dollar bill in a park?  What would you do if you saw a young child, standing alone, crying in a public area?

6.  The client and therapist work together on publishing a newspaper.  They must decide what kind of articles/items are to be included and who the publication is geared for.

7.   To increase their vocabulary set up a Jeopardy type game with their vocabulary words. This also helps them to form Wh questions as you pose the answer and they have to come up with the question. This also targets curriculum in the schools and can be used in any of their subjects to study for exams.  The easier words get lesser points. When studying for exams you can put the words in different categories and give them catchy names to help them remember them.

8.  Mad Libs.  First we review parts of speech.  What is a noun, verb, adjective and adverb?  Then we brainstorm words for each category and either write them on the chalkboard or on paper to be kept
in front of each student.  Then we do the madlib, either from the madlib books or online ones. (Wacky
Web Tales is a good site for this.) After we read the silly mad lib then we go back and look for words that make sense within the story chosen. For additional links, go to www.madlibs.org 

9.  The newspaper is great.  The comic strips have idioms, figurative language, and multiple meaning words.  Humor is difficult to teach, but usually appropriate goal for this age group.  The classified ads help memory and analyzing information.  Omit one piece of crucial info:  phone number, price, etc.  Let them decide which info is missing.  Job ads give good info and help them for the future.  I have a file of comic strips which are useful for teaching.  Soon, the students begin to bring in samples.  Advertisements are also good for fact/fiction work.

10.  I cut out pictures of groups (2+people) from magazines (the NY Times Sunday Magazine section is excellent) and mount them on cardstock.  Each person in the therapy group chooses a picture and rolls the die/dice. The object is to role-play the conversation of the people in the picture.  The number on the die/dice is the number of conversational turns that the student must role-play.  In individual therapy sessions, the student and I each role-play a pictured person.  In group speech, each student plays a role and I facilitate when needed.  It's a terrific pragmatic lesson that the students love!

11.  An activity that has gone over in a big way with middle school age boys with Asperger's has been to use the Far Side calendar.  We do this the last five minutes of the session.  I save pages from each day and ask each student to tell the rest of us why it is funny.  This activity addresses a variety of objectives from multiple meaning words, idioms and inference.  It also requires them to pay attention to the details in the picture along with the captions.  They can't wait to do this!

12.  When working with adult patients who have suffered strokes and have decreased intelligibility, I like to get the names of their children and grandchildren.  Names are great to use for articulation practice and the patients appreciate being able to talk about their families.

13.  Many of the teens I work with need help with figurative language.  I introduce a list of idioms and help them come up with correct "definitions".  Once the list is completed, we make a matching came by writing the idiom phrase on one index card and the definition on another.  The students make the cards themselves to get additional spelling and grammar practice.  You can use the cards to play Memory or other card games.  If I'm working with a group, I have each student make their own set to take home.

14.  I have my older students list jobs that they might be interested in doing once completing school. We look through the newspaper and pick a job out of the classifieds. I have them read it and discuss the vocabulary. We then fill out a generic job application discussing the vocabulary and role play an interview. Great for articulation, language, fluency, and functional life skills.

15.  I like to play "Finish It", a group activity that involves adults with high level expressive language deficits.  The clinician begins by presenting a topic and saying a few sentences to begin a story.  Going around the group, each person adds his/her part to the story. The story can be long or short, but each person's contribution must be relevant to the topic and in proper sequence.  This activity can be used with people with dysarthria to practice speech clarity; for those with sequencing or thought organization goals; and as mentioned, for those with expressive language goals.  The clinician encourages appropriate responses by asking for clarification, expansion of ideas, etc.; whatever the particular goal.  I have also found this activity successful and fun for the young adult population.

16.  When I was a therapist working with kids in Juvenile Hall, one of the most successful activities we ever did was preparing for job hunting.  I picked up applications from places like McDonalds and the gas station, grocery stores, etc. and brought in help wanted ads from the local paper.  Often with teens, their job expectations are unreasonable (I want to be a painter, mechanic, so on) and they have little to no experience.  Teaching them how to read help wanted ads and discovering which jobs they were or were not qualified for helped them define a direction for their lives, i.e., finish high school, volunteer, junior college, etc.  We also spent a lot of time completing applications - real life ones, not the ones in some workbook.  The materials were free and the reasoning and problem solving skills needed were addressed daily!

17.   This is a game that I made and works well with young children and adolescence.  I have used it both for sentence expansion and for teaching 'w' questions.  Using Boardmaker or a similar programme I place a big picture at the top of the page and then four things that relate to it in smaller boxes (horizontally) underneath. e.g. I may put a picture of a teapot and then underneath a cup of tea, people, kitchen and thirsty.  We then take it in turns to choose and card and for the other person/people to ask us questions to try and guess what it is a picture of. 
e.g. where do you find it?  ... In the kitchen
       who uses it?  ... all people can use it
      when do you use it? ... when you are thirsty
      what do you use it for? ... to make a cup of tea.

The prompts are there to help the child to answer the questions.  Or alternatively they could think up different or more significant answers depending on their ability level.

18.  While in graduate school I worked with a adolescent language group.  The group's long-term goals were to increase verbal and written expression as well as direction-following skills.  The goals were addressed by performing various language activities.  Here are a few of the fun things we did!  One week we practiced note-taking skills for taking notes in the classroom, we generated ideas as a group and then had the teens give short "presentations" during therapy time and had the others in the group take notes.

We also had a week where we worked on map-reading skills. After looking at maps of our city and going over the components of the map we went on a tour outside around the speech building...we gave the teens a map and had them follow the directions to get to a destination (they ended up at a drug store and they were instructed to buy a soda! It was fun!)

We increased direction-following by having the teens fold cloth napkins and paper from written directions, we had them write out their own directions and we had to fold napkins their way.

During the time the group met we also had a session on completing job applications and using a dictionary.

19.  Utilizing travel brochures/magazines clients can "plan" a vacation.  What type of transportation might be needed?  How do you access that transportation?  What types of clothing would be needed for the destination?  If it is a driving trip, sequence the travel using maps?  What types of activities would be available at your destination?  Help TBI/CVA patients with word finding by asking questions such as:  If you get tired traveling, where do you stop?  If you get hungry, where do you stop?

20.  When working with a teenager with multiple language problems & a severe learning disability I found using visual aides really helped.  To work on receptive vocabulary & descriptive terms, I would cut out various pictures from magazines and put them on the wall behind me. I would have her face the wall  and I would give her clues as to what object I was thinking of. Kind of an "I spy" game for older kids. I would cue and prompt when needed.  Before we played this game, we would review different descriptive concepts and the vocabulary that was involved.  Every time she picked the right picture she took it off the wall and placed it in a notebook, to be used for future activities, such as formulating sentences or categorization activities.  This game is great for multiple language concepts such as asking WH questions about the object.

21.  I created this activity during my last clinical practicum site for graduate school. I was working with the geriatric population and I had a small group of women with similar language problems (aphasia & memory problems) and also with dysarthric speech. I would pick a theme for each session. For instance, we had a "Get Together" where the patients and I planned our activities for a "girl's night" get together. The patient's had to pick what kind of food they wanted, what music they wanted to listen to and what they wanted to watch on TV.  I used various menus & a TV guide. I blew up the pages of the TV guide & the menus for easy reading. We started with the menus. The patient's had to tell me what they wanted to have for dinner. I had one patient "call" and place the order.  This lead to conversations about their favorite foods and where they used to go with their families.  They then picked from the TV guide. I gave them each a time slot and they had to pick what show they wanted to watch. Again, this had a great "reminiscent" function, leading to conversation of favorite TV shows.  The best was part was when they picked their favorite music to play. The patients began to sing Frank Sinatra songs!  What really made this activity successful was the patient's ability to prompt each other with questions and encouragement. My part was to monitor the language and prompt or cue when needed. The nature of this activity allowed for a "functional" language activity, promoting spontaneous language and increased vocabulary.  During the activity, I would ask each patient what they ordered for dinner or what restaurant we were ordering from, to monitor memory.  The activity itself promoted long-term memory skills, allowing the patient's to rehash positive memories and share them with others.  This activity lead to similar language activity's such as, "planning a party" and "planning a vacation". These activities promote vocabulary, language form, language use & memory skills.  Patients that are less able can participate  in modified versions of these activities such as "Let's cook breakfast" or "Let's go grocery shopping".  These themes can be modified for teenagers & young adults

22.  I work in a public school setting with limited resources. To increase writing skills, each desk has a group of ten words taped to it. At each session , students are asked to read the words on their desk at least twice per session. These words (same set on each desk) are used in a variety of activities. By the end of the 6 week period, we chart their percentages, and rewards are given. As the year progresses, the word list are changed, and more freedom in word list selection is allowed. Students who do not learn the complete list on a specific desk are not penalized, but rewarded to a lesser degree. At the end each therapy year, I have found that my students' reading vocabulary skills have improved significantly. Penalties are given to students who remove the word list. List are taken from all academic areas. Thank you for trying this activity on language/Inclusive/special/gifted students.

23.  To teach categories.. Make a magnetic grid from a picture frame as big as you want.. Get a picture frame and some steel (magnetic thin backing) backing sold at a hardware store... take the glass off the frame , cut the steel to fit the back, put the frame back together but use the back which has a grid in place of the glass (usually 4).  Buy refrigerator magnets.  Label each section with PECS and velcro so they can be changed.. Students love the magnets and enjoy placing them on the magnetic board.. the best one is the radio that plays music and the toilet that flushes!!  The categories are endless.. you can even make your own magnets with strong glue and magnet strips sold in the craft store!!!  The board can be used on the table or hung on the wall!

24.  I work in a high school and have language disordered students on my caseload.  Finding motivating materials to address IEP goals and objectives can be challenging at times. One of the things I do is present frame games like the ones that are found in the USA Weekend section of the Sunday newspaper by Terry Stickels. The students are encouraged to look at the frame and tell me what they see. I am able to elicit synonyms and other desired language concepts in a fun, competitive format. The object ultimately is to elicit the well known idiomatic expression, person, place, or thing. We then discuss the meaning of the idioms, whether or not they have heard/used the expression before, and situations in which it would be appropriate/inappropriate to use the idiom. At times they are encouraged to illustrate an idiom that they are familiar with to see if other group members can guess what it is. This activity is a break from the monotony of worksheets that our students have been forced to complete during their years in therapy. I would also suggest doing a Google or other type of engine search when you run out of ideas for these frame games. When I did this I was able to get into the archives where I found tons of ideas. I would be very surprised if your students did not enjoy this activity. My students never seem to tire of this and want to do it over and over.  http://www.usaweekend.com/wit/frame_games/