Picture Books + Apps = Winning Speech Therapy Combination

March 22, 2013By: Tom Kloiber

The value of picture books in early intervention therapy is well established, and the market today offers a wealth of great books to assist in speech therapy, and there are countless apps that can be integrated for a multi-sensory approach.

Sometimes it can seem like technology is the only way forward, but the old-school approach still has a place. Traditional books have a charisma that can’t be denied. The feel and heft of the book in your hands, the way the pages turn, and the need to understand the words and pictures in context, without pop-ups or interactive features, has an intrinsic value that’s hard to define.

One great teaching technique is to tie what kids are learning to what’s going on around them; choose books, apps, and real life events to build a complete experience—and completely engage a child. It’s similar to an immersion technique. For example, you might start with an engaging children’s book like If You Give a Cat a Cupcake, then explore a colorful and fun iPad app like Hello, Cupcake! And go on to, you guessed it, make cupcakes. Or decorate already made cupcakes (which can be just as much fun) and provide tons of opportunities for reinforcing sounds in a non-threatening atmosphere. If conducting teletherapy, making cupcakes could be something you suggest to the family as a way of reinforcing the lesson.

You know how important it is to incorporate sensory elements into SLP sessions. Children—and especially non-verbal children—are tactile creatures. They love to touch and feel. Adding physical activities, including turning the pages of a real book, to a learning atmosphere enhances the opportunity to learn and grow, and also teaches the child to find learning opportunities anywhere.

As kids get older, it’s a little less simple, but this approach can be effective from toddler age throughout life…you may just have to adapt to the age and whatever the popular culture dictates and whatever appeals to the specific child. Kids might be attracted to comic books, sports, nature, art, fashion, science, music…almost anything could serve as a trigger for an immersion experience the kid can’t put down. The key is to find that trigger and exploit it for all it’s worth. If it fascinating, it’s a learning experience. It’s up to you to incorporate that overriding interest into lessons that have depth and sensory appeal.

Preschoolers and young ones are easy, but what materials would you use for older kids? It’s helpful to think back to what fascinated you at that age. The world may change, but we’re still inexorably drawn to the same things; the beauty of the world around us; the mysteries of life; interaction with alien life forms (like dolphins). We love to discover at any age. As teachers…we can use that.

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