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 :)
If your child or your students, celebrate Christmas, Christmas trees 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.
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!
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.
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..
Before/After: This is a temporal direction. Your child has to do something before or after he/she do something else. This is TRICKY!
Spatial: Give a direction with a spatial aspect (under, over, above)
Basic: Basic means one-step, simple directions. If your child is having trouble, start here!
The game listed below targets both expressive (speaking) and receptive (listening) skills.
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:
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?"
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:
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. Most 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 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!
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:
You can practice social skills while making a Christmas tree with the printable activity with these ideas:
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!
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