Written By: Belinda Worley MS-SLP-CCC
With the SPOOKTACULAR HALLOWEEN season, it is time to have extra fun with your clients using pumpkins. During speech and language therapy there is just so much to talk about. Pumpkins come in a variety of sizes, textures, and colors. We can talk about pumpkins, line them up, carry them, paint them and even form obstacle courses with pumpkins. Which pumpkin is bumpy or smooth? Which pumpkin is heavy or light? Which pumpkin is the largest, the medium size or the small one? Can we count small pumpkins? Do we have many or just a few? I have made a list of some of my very favorite pumpkin activities. I hope you can pick one, or maybe even two that can help add fun to your therapy sessions.
1. Wash Pumpkins – my children love a good tub of soap and water. During your session place the pumpkin in a large bucket of soap and water. First, the bucket was “empty” but now look at the “full” bucket of fun. Allow the child to wash the pumpkin with a variety of rags, sponges, and brushes. Allow the child to use small cups to pour the soap and water “over” the pumpkins. Drying the pumpkins off with a variety of towels can be fun at the end too.
2. Stickers, Jewels, and Craft Eyes – allow the child to cover the pumpkin with their favorite stickers. Maybe you use a favorite character, or jewels, or even craft eyes. My clients love to glue jewels of all kinds and craft eyeballs all over their pumpkins.
3. Articulation Targets – If working on a certain sound and there are particular words you are targeting with your child, you can easily write those words on plain stickers. As the child says the targeted word, they can stick it on their pumpkin. Taking a pumpkin home after a great session in speech therapy is so much more fun than a speech folder with worksheets. If you have a student working on “sight words”, you can write those words on the stickers as well covering the pumpkin up as the child articulates the words.
4. Painting Pumpkins – Some children love messy play, and nothing says a good time like painting pumpkins. Children can use brushes, but you can also fill squirt bottles with a variety of colors. Children will love watching how the colors mix together as they flow from the bottles they squeeze. If painting pumpkins is not tolerated well, then markers or stampers can be equally fun.
5. Motor Course – Pumpkins can be used to walk in and out instead of using cones. You could allow the child to jump over the pumpkin or walk around the pumpkin. You could allow the pumpkins to be used as a target for ring toss using Hula-hoops. One of my favorites is to push the pumpkin up a wedge or slide and let it roll down. This allows the opportunity to incorporate “heavy work” into your sessions which can indeed help to create focus, attention, and calmness.
6. Hide and Seek – I love to hide small pumpkins all around my clinic. The child then must use their words to tell me which one I should find, “Get the pumpkin that is under the swing.” We go back and forth giving directives. This game always ends with a bucket full of pumpkins and lots of giggles.
7. Carve Pumpkin – Have your clients ever carved a pumpkin? Can you just imagine all the goo and yuck inside they have never even touched? Give it a try and see if they like it. What a memorable experience for all. You could even make pumpkin slime with real pumpkin guts! For another fun activity put all the pumpkin guts in a sensory squish bag. Children will love pushing and touching the guts while their hands stay clean too.
8. Halloween Sensory Bin – Fill a bin or tub with rice or black beans, toy spiders, toy eyeballs, vampire teeth, bats, Halloween erasers, small pumpkins, and all things Halloween. Our children love to dig and discover in sensory bins with their hands or with large spoons and tongs. They will enjoy counting and sorting as well.
9. Save a Pumpkin – I love to cover a pumpkin with blue painter’s tape. Children love pulling the blue tape off all objects to “save them”. Maybe small pumpkins are trapped in a muffin tin, basket, or box. The possibilities are endless.
10. Pumpkin Hammering – Gather a collection of golf teas and toy hammers and let’s just see how many golf teas they can hammer into the pumpkin. What a great activity for letting off some preschool frustration. Join in too! We all have built up frustration from time to time!
No matter what activity you choose for your spooktacular speech and language therapy sessions, just remember to be excited and have fun. Never ever underestimate the importance of simply having fun with your clients. Time spent on the floor laughing and making memories while learning will never be wasted. Children are naturally creative. It is our job as therapists, educators, and parents to give them the space to get creative while helping them grow and learn. At the end of the day, if you are covered in glue, paint, and pumpkin guts then I know you had a spooktacular speech and language therapy session.
If interested, check out my upcoming live interactive webinar on November 4th during Summit’s Acceleration Virtual CE Conference, Low Budget Therapy Solutions.
Explore online continuing education courses from Belinda below:
Identification of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Early Intervention
Visit summit-education.com for more information.