Okay, I LOVE everything about a Christmas tree! 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 ideas for you!
You can adapt any activity on this page 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.
A little for everyone 🙂Speech Therapy: Christmas Activity
No Christmas tree...get your speech therapy Christmas tree printable activity below!
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 ideas based on age and desired speech or language skill. I added other fun, must-play games that target all areas of development so read to the end.
Speech Therapy Christmas Language Activities
Vocabulary: Toddler to Early Elementary
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 age appropriate vocabulary words that will work with either activity you 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: Preschool to Early Elementary
Following directions requires a person to know vocabulary, have working memory skills, and adequate attention.
Below are practice ideas for following directions while decorating the tree. Pay attention to the "direction" words you are using, your child's vocabulary level, and attention level (i.e., may want to to do one step directions vs two step).
Sequential: This direction is multi-step and something has to be done first, second, etc..
- First, hang the red ornament and then the green one
- First, hang on the train. Next put on an elf
Before/After: This is a temporal direction. Your child has to do something before or after he/she does something else. This is TRICKY!
- Before you put the Santa ornament on the tree, put the train ornament on
- Cut out a present before you cut out a star (printable activity)
Spatial: Give a direction with a spatial aspect (under, over, above)
- Put the bell under the candy cane
- Glue on an ornament next to the holly (printable activity)
Basic: Basic means one-step, simple directions. If your child is having trouble, start here!
- Give me an ornament
- Glue on the star (printable activity)
- Find a Santa
Complex Language Tasks: Toddler to Early Elementary Students
The game listed below targets both expressive (speaking) and receptive (listening) skills.
No Hands (How to Play):
For this game, put all the Christmas tree decorations on the table. 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 (the desired response is adjusted for individual goals)
You can target many areas of language with this game.
- Size: Have the students describe if their desired decoration is big, small, etc...
- Color: Have the students name the color of their decoration
- Shape: The students must identify the shape
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?"
Cueing strategies: If a child is having trouble describing their desired decoration, I use the decorations themselves as visual prompts.
For example, if a student says I want a present, I lay out all the presents in front of him or her. Then, I will verbally prompt for another category such the color of the wrapping paper. As the student adds another descriptive vocabulary word, I will take the necessary presents away and this will continue until one present is left.
Then, the student repeats the whole phrase. For example, "I want the blue present with a silver ribbon."
After a few times with this game, oral vocabulary improves!
- Use of full sentences: The student says “I want the ....….”
- Subject-verb agreement: Reinforce use of correct verb tense
- Etc….This has to be adjusted to individual goals
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:
- Location (under tree vs on tree)
Expressive/Receptive Language Game
I Spy With My Little Eye is a great game that targets both receptive (listening) and expressive language skills. It 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 target language skills, make sure to only add one descriptive vocabulary word each turn. This challenges receptive language skills and 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 Functioning: Toddler to Early Elementary Students
Executive function skills are the abilities to plan, control impulses and emotions, multi-task, pay and shift attention, and organize. Executive functioning skills continue to develop as the frontal lobe continues to grow; however, we can start things off on the right foot!
- Plan out everything needed to decorate a Christmas tree or make your own using the printable activity
- Sequence steps needed to complete the project. Focus on using sequence words while discussing steps (i.e., FIRST put up the tree, NEXT put the lights on, etc…)
- Talk about safety/rules when using glue and scissors or when plugging in lights
Social skills are so important and kids are lacking exposure these days! Some kids need to be taught socials skills too! It doesn't matter which group your child fits into. The activities below will work for everyone.
Practice and model good social skills while decorating a Christmas tree:
- Practice asking for another ornament or asking for help to hang an ornament
- Share which ornament is a favorite and why
- Encourage your child to comment on your favorite or practice asking a question.
Practice social skills while making a Christmas tree with the printable activity with these ideas:
- Practice asking for a turn with glue
- Practice inviting a friend to join in the art activity
- Share a personal story about Christmas and practice listening, making comments and asking questions about other friend's stories
Practice articulation skills while decorating your Christmas tree or during therapy with the printable activity.
Below are words that will 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 use the printable activity, you can use the ornaments and decorations as a reinforcer during drill practice. Once a child says a 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.
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