Expanding Expressions

For Speech Therapy

Expanding expressions of children in speech therapy is an important therapy technique!

Being able to expand expressions (increase mean length of utterance) for children with communication disorders is a common goal. However, how you go about it will depend on the child’s age and specific goals. Keep reading to learn more. 

Expanding Expressions For Late Talkers

For late talkers, expanding the mean length of utterance is probably the most common goal after the child has about 10-50 words and is consistently imitating. If the child needs to work on imitation and/or first words, please check out this page.

Once the child has enough words, we want to start combining words together.

What Does This Look Like:

To do this, we commonly use the following implicit strategies:

  • Expansions: A child’s utterance is repeated while increasing complexity (grammar and/or semantics) by one unit
  • Recasts: Recasts are a type of expansion where a child’s utterance is repeated, but the repetition changes the mode of the utterance (i.e., active voice to passive voice)

Due to the child's age, these expansion techniques are done during play and daily interactions with caregivers.

Expanding Expressions For Late Talkers - Hot Tip

We want the child to learn vocabulary, increase their mean length of utterance, and set up the building blocks for later language development (expressive and receptive). 

When working with a late talker make sure you are targeting BOTH vocabulary words (noun +modifier, i.e, “red truck) AND complex sentence structures (subject + verb, i.e., “baby drink”).

This means, we need to be modeling complex sentences, not just lengthy ones such as “more cookies” or “I want more cookies." Instead, try "eat cookie,” “bake cookie,” or “we bake cookies."

Expanding Expressions For Preschool Students

For preschool and elementary age children, I still use expansion techniques to target increasing mean length of utterance and producing complex sentences.

It's crucial to remember that children MUST be able to understand and produce complex sentences for academic success!

Expanding Expressions For Old Children - Hot Tip

For grammar, we tend to continue implicit teaching as children age, but the research tells us that we need to teach grammar EXPLICITLY!

This means, you can’t just model vocabulary and grammar and just hope for the best with preschool and elementary age students. 

What Does This Look Like:

  • Actually laying out grammar rules such as telling students “we add ‘-ed.’ when something happened in the past or we and 'ing' when something is happening right now to verbs."
  • Having worksheets and activities that practice the needed grammar skills explicitly!

We need to make sure that the materials: 

  • Focus on a variety of subjects
  • Exposes children to a variety of vocabulary words
  • Covers a variety of grammar/sentence structures
  • Has cues and supports built into them 

Expanding Expressions Materials

Late Talker Materials

For late talkers, therapy occurs during daily interactions like play, so caregivers need appropriate resources to implement strategies consistently.

These are up on Speech Therapy Talk Membership and some of my FAVORITE materials I have ever made. 

Must Have Materials

  • First and foremost, you MUST have handouts that are laid out in parent friendly terms, which reviews what the strategies are, how to do them, and WHY!
  • Next, you MUST have a progress tracker. These are a great communication tool and a way to track progress, create goals, and keep everyone on track
  • Last, I have MANY optional handouts that illustrate each strategy in more detail, provide scripts for how to do the strategies, and more! 

Access Parent Handouts

late talker handouts

Access ALL Late Talker Strategies

Preschool and Elementary Age Materials

For preschool and elementary age students, there are many expanding expression materials on Speech Therapy Talk Membership.

As with all my materials, I created them in a very systematic way where cues are faded naturally so children have a chance to be successful at all stages and generalize progress!

I will release over 100 pages of new worksheets this month (in both English and Spanish) to add to the hundreds already up on the site.

I won’t bore you with the details now since the materials will be released in a few weeks. Once they are live, I will go through what they are and how to use them. Stay tuned! 

Thanks for being here! I appreciate you!

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