Social Language Activities For Teletherapy
Many Speech-Language Pathologists stepping into teletherapy may be unsure of how to address pragmatic language goals using this new mode of service delivery. Former "go to" resources like board games, books, and tabletop activities may no longer be relevant when working with students virtually. It can be somewhat difficult to suddenly identify a new repertoire of activities to target goals for maintaining conversation, making inferences, identifying nonverbal communication, and more.
When I first began teletherapy, I remember feeling unsure of how to target pragmatic language. But in the past five or six years, I have found many engaging ways to work on a variety of social language skills using digital materials. I've rounded up a few of the pragmatics resources that I use regularly for both individuals and groups. In fact, social language has now become one of my favorite goal areas to target in teletherapy!
I frequently use real photographs to encourage students to break apart scenarios by making inferences, predicting what may happen next, reading the body language of those in the situation, and taking multiple perspectives. A couple of resources that work well for addressing social skills using photographs are Understanding Social Situations and Serious or Sarcastic? Identifying and Using Sarcasm in Conversation, both of which can both be found in my TpT store.
YouTube is a vast source of information sharing of many topics, including resources for social language. The Epic or Fail series from the Ellen Show is great for making inferences and predictions, as well as identifying body language. Rebecca from Adventures in Speech Pathology has written a great blog post listing 10 must-use YouTube videos for social language. As a tip, use Safe YouTube to screen videos before using them with students.
I have also found that Boom Cards are a great option for targeting pragmatic language goals. One of my favorite activities for working on identifying facial expressions is this deck, which allows students to "build" faces by clicking and dragging the eyebrows, eyes, and a mouth to create the expression of various emotions. It's dynamic and engaging, and targets the skill from a more interesting angle than solely looking and pictures.
Another way to target nonverbal communication is by using comics with blank speech bubbles. Additionally, this activity addresses inferencing, conversational turns, and topic maintenance. Allison Fors has a Pinterest Board full of blank comics for practicing these skills. My students enjoy working cooperatively to create conversations by filling in the speech bubbles to make a logical comic.
An activity that works well for older students is practicing conversations within the context of text messages, as shown here. These role play scripts are another simple way to work on the "rules" of conversations, especially with small groups.
Lastly, have you heard of Everyday Speech? It is a fantastic site with tons of videos, worksheets, and games which were developed in part by an SLP! The site is user-friendly and the collection of materials is robust. Use of the site does require a paid subscription, but I think it's worth it if you have several students on your caseload with social language goals. The games are really a hit with my students.... they almost think we're playing video games ;)
I hope that I've offered some inspiration for fellow SLPs feeling a bit unsure of how to target social language virtually. If you're a subscriber to my email list, be sure to check the freebie library for a no print resource which addresses topic maintenance. And please comment on this post if you're a teletherapist and have found any other great social language activities.... I'm always looking for new ideas!