Picture scenes are a versatile and engaging tool to use in speech therapy to work on: grammar, wh questions, following directions, inferences, conversations, and much more!
I am all for activities that target multiple goals – and these are no exception! Picture scenes decrease planning time because of the many goals you can target. Their versatility also makes them great for mixed group therapy. Even better, I have a Pinterest board of over 100 pictures ready for you to use – no printing necessary! Feel free to pull this web page up in your session to work on any of the skills listed below.
(These scenes are busy, so I don’t recommend using them to teach the beginning stages of concepts or for those students who get distracted or overwhelmed easily with visuals.)
I love to use these scenes to work on conversational turn-taking or initiating conversations. They are silly enough to peak interest and work on these skills before moving to a less structured approach. Present your student (or let them choose) a picture and have them start a conversation based on it. You may also see how many times you, or 2 students, can go back and forth with questions/comments about the picture.
Many of these scenes have a theme – camping, at school, swimming, at the park, etc. Use these themes to teach vocabulary and discuss associations, categories, and negation. Why do you take a tent camping? Which doesn’t belong?
Most of these scenes are packed with people doing things. This makes them perfect to talk verbs – present, past, or present progressive. I like to use these scenes as a generalization tool for this instead of the beginning stages of teaching verbs. Use the scenes to point to a character and ask: What is she doing? What did he do?
Use the scenes to work on answering various questions correctly: Who is that? What is that? Why is he crying? Where is the dog? When do you go swimming? It’s easy to come up with different types of WH question to ask with the variety of scenes and many things happening in each one.
Have your student work on sentence formulation with an engaging scene of their choice. Ask them to describe something they see. If needed, prompt your student with a more specific question, such as: Tell me what the boy did. Use a sentence scaffold to focus the sentences on including something specific, for example, pronouns or past tense verbs. (eg. He/she + is + -ing.)
Give simple 1-step directions or complex multi-step directions! For example, “Point to the chair” or “Touch the girl with brown hair, then find the boy sleeping, and last point to the red car”.
These fun scenes are great for making inferences. Why are the kids wearing gloves outside? Why are the kids laughing on the playground? Why is he crying?
NOUNS & PRONOUNS
Since these pictures are packed with people, it’s easy to work on nouns (boy, girl) and pronouns (he, she, they, his, hers, theirs). Ask: Who is that? Who is running? Whose car is it?
Discuss where the scenes are: outside, inside, at the park. You may also test generalization skills of various prepositions: in, on, under, near, far, between, in front, between, above, below or prepositional phrases.
I began creating my own scenes because of how integral scenes have become in my therapy. In these resources, I include supplemental activities of task cards, WH question to ask, and sample directions to give your students. I have created these engaging language scenes for various holidays and the seasons – check them out here!
Have you ever utilized picture scenes in therapy? What other skills would you target?
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