I love using themes in speech therapy. Part of it is selfish because I just love themes myself. Some of my favorite memories of school as a kid were the “Right to Read” weeks, when our teachers would decorate our classrooms like the circus or the great outdoors, or Pioneer Day, when we raided our grandma’s attics for outfits to wear to school. As a therapist now, I love how a good theme can instantly up student engagement, and believe it or not, actually makes things easier for me when planning. Yep, that’s the For Love of Language way–I don’t go all in on decor or prep time unless there’s going to be a payout for me! And these fun camping hacks I used for a camping theme in speech are EASY, and most are FREE!
Step 1: Get a tent
A tent instantly creates a fun new place to do speech! Even if this is all you have, your kids will love it! Articulation drills, reading stories, or talking about social skills is just more fun in a tent! I was looking for a small 1-2 person tent because I didn’t have a ton of space to use, when my mother-in-law told me about this kids’ tent she had kept from my husband and brother-in-law growing up. Man, kids’ tents made in the 80s were sturdy! This thing was great! Any small tent will do the trick. To make it free–> use one you have or ask friends or family for one to borrow. Surely someone has one laying around somewhere!
Step 2: Camp crafts!
Camps from my childhood were synonymous with braiding friendship bracelets, woodcarving, and painting derby cars! While those crafts are a little advanced for the 20-30 minutes you might have in speech, think simple, but still campy and fun! My kids loved taking a few minutes to decorate “friendship bracelets” with their name on them. My artic kids even wrote some of their sounds on their bracelets to remind them to use their good speech sounds as they went about their day! We also did a a quick campfire craft, which I used all day long to target a variety of goals. All I did ahead of time was cut strips of brown paper for the logs, and have yellow, orange, and red paper available. We tore the paper and glued as we went; for some of my younger kids, I helped with the tearing part to speed up the process, so they could focus on gluing the pieces of paper where they wanted them. I made this with supplies I already had at home or at the therapy clinic, so I didn’t have to spend any more money!
Step 3: Camp Snacks!
One of the most fun parts about any theme is the food! I kept things nice and simple with a s’mores snack mix–just mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, and Golden Grahams cereal! Broken up graham crackers would work instead of the cereal, too. Then I topped them off with snack tags included in my camping theme freebie! Buying ingredients for snacks will cost you a few dollars, but if you throw together this mix from things you already have in your pantry, it feels a little less like spending money! 😀
And that’s it! Those are some fun camping essentials to spruce up the same old, same old therapy routine. Of course you could amp up the accessories you have laying around, your costume (I added this counselor tag to my keys!), and games you play. Jenna Rayburn Kirk has a great articulation freebie in her store we played over our “fire”.
Let me know in the comments some of your favorite therapy themes!