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Play-Based Language Therapy Session: Try this simple idea!

Here's a quick session idea for you based on my therapy session today! I'll tell you how my session went and then give you some idea for how to adapt or vary it to your needs!

During this session, I was working with a small group of preschoolers with language delays and a kindergarten student with autism.

First, I grabbed a large bag for Little People.

We took turns choosing and requesting animals. As we were doing so, one of the children knocked a toy monkey on the ground.

Accidents are the best!

I immediately said, "uh oh!"

The child picked up the toy, and I said, "oh no... I think he's hurt! Are you hurt monkey?"

Speaking for the monkey I said, "Mhmmmm." *sniffle*

"What can we do to make monkey feel better?" I asked.

One of the preschool children responded, "a boo boo bandaid!"

I immediately ran to my desk, pulled out my first aid kit, grabbed a stack of bandaids and said:

"Great idea!"

We opened the bandaid, placed it on the monkey and...


One of children threw an animal on the ground.

"Uh oh!"

Then we repeated the same process as before. "Oh no... he's hurt!" What can we do?

"A boo boo bandaid!" some of the kids responded.

Once I saw how engaged all students were, we started to repeat the process and establish a routine and add a little more language each time.

It looked different for each student, but the routine may have looked a little something like...

Throw/Knock animal on the ground


Use an exclamatory response (e.g., uh oh!)


Pick up the animal and evaluate

"Oh no, he's hurt" *whimper/cry*


Ask, "what [body part] did he hurt?"


Child responds with body part

support/choices offered as needed


Ask, "what does he need?"


Child requests a bandaid

support or yes/no question offered as needed


Child puts the bandaid on the hurt body part and

places the animal in the "hospital"



After all the animals had been hurt, bandaged up, and placed in the hospital, we reviewed what happened to provide additional opportunities to practice and to target additional language skills (e.g., simple narrative, past tense). For example, I elicited simple narratives by asking, "what happened to [animal]?" I provided support as needed to make a simple narrative response (e.g., Monkey fell down! Monkey sad. Monkey got bandaid). While eliciting the simple narrative, we also worked on past tense verbs.

It was a miracle session where all the children stayed engaged for the whole 30 minute session and produced a lot of spontaneous language. Those days don't come around all the time, so this was one for the books!

This activity was simple, but effective.

We used some toys, bandaids and a simple routine.

Were were able to target a wide variety of language targets and skills such as:

🔹joint attention

🔹making choices (do you want the monkey or the dog?)

🔹exclamatory words (ouch! oops! uh oh!)

🔹animal vocabulary (monkey, zebra, dog)

🔹body part vocabulary (head, ears, feet, wing, etc.)

🔹requesting (I want a [animal]/bandaid)

🔹yes/no questions (do you want a bandaid?)

🔹simple wh-questions (what did he hurt? [body part])

🔹past tense (he hurt his head)

🔹emotions (he feels sad/hurt)

🔹core words (down, up, help, on, in)

🔹turn taking

🔹simple narrative (what happened? he got hurt...)

🔹fine motor skills (opening and applying bandaids)

🔹gross motor skills (throwing animals and walking/running to pick them up)

It's amazing what you can do with a handful of toys, some bandaids and a simple routine!

But you know what is even better? You don't have to have the same materials I did! Here are some alternatives! Or other things you can try in addition to what I did above.

Instead of Little People, try using...

🔹Stuffed animals

🔹Picture cards

🔹Yourself/other kids (e.g., take turns falling and being "hurt" and needing another to "help" you)

🔹Common household or therapy room objects (e.g., pretend a pillow is hurt)

Instead of bandaids, try using...

🔹Sticky Notes

🔹Toilet paper


🔹Plastic wrap



🔹Pretend wrap

The options are endless. The beauty of play is that you can use your imagination and "pretend play" to make anything become anything. That is the kind of abstract cognitive ability we need our kiddos to develop to have flexible, generative, novel and functional language skills.

Good luck and play on!

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