Keeping students engaged and interested in today's media-saturated environment with severe budget restrictions can be a real challenge for an SLP. The budget for non-standard (and often even standard) curriculum materials in most public schools is abysmal. Fortunately, the Web offers a lot of resources, activities, and interactive educational tools that are fun and free.
Here are some other things to consider when choosing classroom activities or resources for speech students:
- Does the activity relate to what the child is learning in school? In an ideal learning environment, speech activities should coordinate with classroom studies to enhance and reinforce both.
- Is it grade level appropriate and challenging? Reaching kids who grew up on video gaming and social networking requires a delicate balance between being educational and being boring.
- Does the activity provide a multisensory experience using visual, auditory, and interactive technology? Activities that engage different sense have a better chance of keeping the child interested. Text-based activities are lifeless and dull. The more the child is required to interact by solving puzzles, making decisions, and answering questions, the more time she will be willing to invest.
- Does the activity provide opportunities for the child to learn new words and practice new sounds? Ideally, the activity should incorporate language goals into the session. A tall order, but one that may be achieved by outlining special instructions on activities designed for other purposes.
Many websites offer interactive educational classroom activities and resources appropriate for speech students for free. Check these out:
- BBC online offers some wonderful free games that meet these criteria. Try the Digby Mole Word Game for age 4-7 sound matching, the Sandcastle Quiz about phonemes for ages 5-7, or multiplayer online competitions like Mia Cadavers Tombstone Timeout for teens.
- Thinkport.org, a Maryland-based website, offers an extensive of online field trips like Pathways to Freedom: Maryland & the Underground Railroad, the food related adventures of a group of middle schoolers at plasticforkdiaries.org, and a chance to answer some pressing questions at EnviroMysteries.
- Learner.org offers an extensive list of interactive resources in math, science, language, history, and art. Elements of a Story, for example, narrates an animated storybook for 5-7 year olds and then explains and asks the child to identify the elements of the story, like setting, characters and conflict.
- The language page at ReadWriteThink.org offers interactive activities like the Word Wizard and lesson plans for teachers like Phonic Generalizations in Chrysanthemum.
- Explore the Blue, at DiscoveryEducation.com, is a wealth of resources, information and lesson plans about the ocean where kids can participate in activities like learning how to create an Aquarium Terrarium, take a virtual fishing trip, or use an interactive map to learn about aquatic plants and animals near home.