Speech Therapy
Christmas Tree

Okay, I LOVE everything about Christmas trees! I love decorating it, looking at it, and playing with the ornaments with my boys. 

For those who celebrate Christmas and have a Christmas tree, I have some ideas for you!

All the activities below can be adapted for any goal and any age

If you don't have a Christmas tree or you are in a therapy room, I have a printable tree and ornaments as well.

A little for everyone :)

No Christmas tree...get your speech therapy Christmas tree printable activity below!

Download Christmas Tree Activity Now!

If your child or your students, celebrate Christmas, Christmas tress have endless opportunities for speech and language practice and they are naturally motivating! 

I'll review some ideas based on age and desired speech or language skill. I added some other fun must play games that target all areas of development at the end so make sure to read to the end. 

Speech Therapy Christmas Language Activities

Vocabulary: Toddler to Early Elementary

To work on vocabulary with young children, skip the flashcards.Seriously, skip them! Please! The best way to learn vocabulary is through structured play.

Below are some age appropriate vocabulary words that will work with either activity you decide to do!

Cut

More

Lights

Glue

Ornaments

Seasons

Sticky

Branches

Colors

Sparkly

Round

Pretty

Bright

Tall

Prickly

For more info on vocabulary learning, check out preschool/elementary vocabulary learning. 

If you want to expand those first words into phrases, we have more in-depth activities for you at Toddler Talking. There are step-by-step guides for all toddler language development areas.

Speech Therapy: Christmas Activity

Following Directions: Preschool to Early Elementary

Following directions requires a person to know vocabulary, have working memory skills, and adequate attention.

Below are some practice ideas for following directions while decorating the tree. There are quite easy to come up with in the moment. Just pay attention to the type of "direction" words you are using and be aware of your child's vocabulary level as well as attention (i.e., may want to to do one step directions vs two step).

Sequential: This type of direction is multi-step and something has to be done first, second, etc..

  • First, hang the red ornament and then the green one
  • First, hang on the train. Next put on an elf

Before/After:  This is a temporal direction. Your child has to do something before or after he/she do something else. This is TRICKY!

  • Before you put the Santa ornament on tree, put the train ornament on
  • Cut out a present before you cut out a star (printable activity)

Spatial:  Give a direction with a spatial aspect (under, over, above)

  • Put the bell under the candy cane
  • Glue on a ornament next to the holly (printable activity)

Basic: Basic means one-step, simple directions. If your child is having trouble, start here!

  • Give me an ornament
  • Glue on the star (printable activity)
  • Find a Santa

Complex Language Tasks: Toddler to Early Elementary Students

The game listed below targets both expressive (speaking) and receptive (listening) skills.

No Hands (How to Play):

For this game, put all the Christmas tree decorations on the table. Make sure to cut them out ahead of time. Each student gets a turn to choose a decoration to put on their own tree. HOWEVER, they can’t point to the one they want (hence the "no hands" name).

Instead, the students have to describe which decoration they want by describing an attribute (blue, green, round, pattern, striped) or using a targeted grammatical structure (they desired response is adjusted for individual goals)

There are many areas of language that can be targeted with this game. For example:

Vocabulary: 

  • Size: Have the students describe if the their desired decoration is big, small, etc...
  • Color: Have the students name the color of their decoration
  • Shape: The students must identify the shape 

If a student is able, have him/her repeat the whole phrase..."Can I have the blue ornament that has a snowflake in the middle of it?"

Cueing strategies: If a child is having trouble describing their desired decoration, I use the decorations themselves as visual prompts.

For example, if a student says I want a present, I will lay out all the presents. Then, I will verbally prompt for another category such the color of the wrapping paper. As the student adds another descriptive vocabulary word, I will take the necessary presents away and this will continue until one present is left.

Then, I have the student repeat the whole phrase. For example, "I want the blue present with a silver ribbon." 

After a few times with this game, oral vocabulary really improves!

Expressive Grammar

  • Use of full sentences: Have the student say “I want the ....….”
  • Subject-verb agreement: Reinforce use of correct verb tense
  • Etc….This has to be adjusted to individual goals

Sorting

Sorting: Organize the decorations by attribute before starting the game. This is a great idea if your students need a lot of cues or are still in the direct teaching phase of learning. Some ideas for categories are:

  • Colors
  • Location (under tree vs on tree)
  • Shape

Expressive/Receptive Language Game

I SPY! 

I Spy With My Little Eye is a great game that targets both receptive (listening) and expressive language skills. It really targets categorization and descriptive vocabulary, and it is a lot of fun.

How to Play: Once your tree is finished, sit back and admire it with your child. Then, play I Spy. Pick out an ornament and say "I Spy With My Little Eye Something .....(blue)." Your child has to guess which ornament you are thinking of. Mostly likely, he/she won't get it on the first try. So, add another description. "I Spy something blue and round." This continues until your child guesses the correct answer. Once your child gets it, roles switch.

**To really target language skills, make sure to only add one descriptive vocabulary word each turn. This challenges receptive language skills as well as deductive reasoning skills.

Have fun with this one!

For more specific speech therapy activities, read more about our practice ideas based on age and skill level

Executive Functioning: Toddler to Early Elementary Students

Executive function skills are our abilities to plan, control impulses and emotions, multi-task, pay and shift attention, and organize. Our executive functioning skills will continue to develop as our frontal lobe continues to grow; however, we can start things off on the right foot!

  1. Plan out everything needed to decorate a Christmas tree or make your own using the printable activity
  2. Sequence steps needed to complete the project. Focus on using sequence words while discussing steps (i.e., FIRST put up the tree, NEXT put the lights on, etc…)
  3. Talk about safety/rules when using glue and scissors or when plugging in lights

Social Skills

Social skills are so important and kids are lacking exposure these days! Some kids need to be directly taught socials skills too! It doesn't matter which group your child fits into. The activities below will work for everyone.

You can practice and model good social skills while decorating a Christmas tree: 

  • Practice asking for another ornament or asking for help hanging an ornament
  • Share which ornament is a favorite and why
  • Encourage your child to comment on your favorite or practice asking a question.

You can practice social skills while making a Christmas tree with the printable activity with these ideas:

  • Practice asking for a turn with glue
  • Practice inviting a friend to join in the art activity
  • Share a personal story about Christmas and practice listening, making comments and asking questions about other friend's stories

Speech Activities

You can practice articulation skills while decorating your Christmas tree or during therapy with the printable activity. 

Below are some words that will naturally arise when decorating the tree. There are words for all sounds in all word positions (beginning, middle, and end). 

If your child is working on any of these sounds, pick a word and get to some functional speech therapy practice!

If you are going to use the printable activity, you can use the ornaments and decorations as a reinforcer during drill practice. Once a child says their sound/word/sentence XXX times, give he/she a decoration. 

Read articulation therapy for how to do speech therapy at home and access free word lists!

For more information on specific sounds, read about our apps for speech therapy!

Sounds


Initial


Medial


Final


B

Big

Above

Bulb

D

Done

Candy

Red

F

Fun

Colorful

Elf

G

Gift

Again

Big

J

Joy

Imagine

Orange

K

Cookie

Sparkly

Magic

L

Lights

Yellow

Ball

M

More

Family

Game

N

Need

Ornament

Green

P

Put

Happy

Up

R

Round

Decoration

Star

S

Small

December

Christmas

T

Tall

Little

Next

V

Vacation

Over

Above

Z

Zillion

Present

Please

TH

Thank you

Something

Beneath

CH

Children

Branches

Branches

SH

Short

Emotion

Finish

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Bridget is an ASHA certified, practicing speech language pathologist. She is passionate about providing parents with information on child speech and language development as well as provide functional, easy activities to do at home! Parents have the power to make a real difference. Follow Bridget at Facebook and Pinterest for more fun!

Author of  child language development eBook series



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