This post is perfect for SLPs looking for a simple but effective lesson for September. In September, apples are ready to pick, and apple-themed activities can be perfect for preschool and elementary-aged students to target prepositions, vocabulary and more. Read on for a step-by-step lesson guide so you can easily use these ideas in your own speech therapy sessions.
September Apples Theme: Six Low-Prep Activities
Do you do themed therapy in your speech room?
To be completely honest, I often feel that themed therapy is for SLPs with more lesson planning time (or more “stuff”) than I’ve got. I try to keep it simple at work and not have too many toys or extras. I rotate my toys at the clinic (meaning I store some for a few months, and then switch out toys every few months) so that clients don’t get bored. Relative to many SLPs, I try to not have very many materials. I like this theme because it doesn’t involve having a lot of stuff around the speech room.
In fact, I do a theme on apples every September. I don’t really need any extra products to do this this unit, and I don’t need to buy much (win-win).
If you haven’t tried an apple unit yet, here’s a step-by-step how I do mine.
Skills I target for these activities: increasing vocabulary, understanding and using prepositions, asking and answering Wh-questions, first/then.
Bring an Apple
First, let’s make sure our learners know what an apple is. You may be working with children with restricted diets due to feeding challenges or even poverty.
Talk about how apples grow on trees. Bring a picture.
Bring in an apple cut in half and talk about the parts – the stem, core, skin, and flesh. Talk about how it tastes. Bring dried apples if you’d like and talk about how dried apples are made and describe how the texture is different. Compare and contrast the dried apple to the fresh apple.
Print out a coloring sheet online so children can color an apple or draw one themselves on a blank piece of paper.
Bring pictures of what we can make out of apples, or just do a Google Search (make sure to preview the results): pie, apple sauce, cider, juice and so on.
You can target first/then by showing sequences of what you do with apples (first you bake it, then you have the pie).
I also often target Wh-questions in this portion of the lesson. For example, I might have a printed visual of how to ask Wh-questions (for example, who is a person) and we’d write down questions learners have at the start of the unit.
Label the Parts of an Apple
Next, we color and name the parts of an apple in pre-made activities, which I got from the Teacher’s Pay Teacher’s website. Both activities are affordable and print and go, and you can find them here and here.
While you do these activities, practice answering and asking Wh-questions about the apples as your learners are coloring and labeling parts of the apple.
This prepositions book is absolutely free from the blog Chapel Hill Snippets, which I highly recommend if you are looking for free activities. You can download the book for free here.
This is a print-and-go book that focuses on prepositions for learners and fits nicely within the apples unit.
Apples Hide and Seek
First, you’ll need an apple that you probably aren’t going to want to eat afterwards. It’ll get pretty bruised up and will get lots of little sticky hands and sneezes on it.
After you’ve practiced your prepositions, hide an apple. This is a great activity to practice prepositions. As you and your learners take turns hiding an apple from each other and then labeling where they are. This is also an excellent activity to practice asking and answering “where” questions. Example: Where is the apple? Under the chair!
Apple Themed Sensory Bin
Do you have sensory bins in your speech room? I don’t. Why? Given my current learners, I know it would end up thrown out all over the floor.
However, I know that’s not true for all work settings and sensory bins can be fantastic for early learners. So, here is a great option for those of you who already do sensory bins or want to try one.
If you aren’t sure what a sensory bin is, Pinterest is a great place to look for ideas.
One of the advantages of having a sensory bin is that your learners will have something to touch and feel as they learn specific vocabulary. If you want an apple-themed sensory bin, make sure you start with a container with a snap-tight lid.
The first step is to add a filler, which is the main ingredient for your sensory bin. For an apple-theme, you could use: fruit loops, oatmeal, rice, lentils, beans or more.
To add things to your apple themed bin, you could add:
A dash of cinnamon or several cinnamon sticks (especially if you are using oats as your filler)
Green and blue pom poms to act as the apple
Tiny apple toys (bought online or perhaps at the dollar store)
A small shovel or measuring cup to scoop up the “apples”
Print and laminate apples pictures and and a tree so learners can put the apples on the tree
Really, sensory bins are a place to be creative. If you like making sensory bins, the Dabbling Speechie blog has tons of great ideas for these, including a free sensory bin challenge.
Try a Visual Recipe: Caramel Apples
Since I keep things pretty low-prep in my speech world, I like to make a simple visual “recipe” for caramel apples.
You can bring an apple and cut it up if you work in a clinic – but most schools I work in don’t allow knives. You can cut up the apple earlier in the day and put a bit of lemon juice on it, or buy pre-cut apple slices (for example, Trader Joe’s sells these).
Then, buy some caramel dip.
It really is that easy.
Your learners can dip the apples in the caramel dip and answer questions about the apples that you’ve learned throughout the unit.
Where questions, Where __________ (do apples grow, are the apple seeds)?
What questions, What ___________ (are 3 parts of an apple, are 3 things you can do with apples, do apples taste like)?
When questions, When __________ (do apples grow, do we make apple pies)?
The caramel apple activity is a nice bookend to finish out this unit on a positive note, and get some good data on what students learned. You can also bring out your apples prepositions book and take some data on that.
Conclusion, September Apples Theme: Six Low-Prep Activities
I hope this post gave you some ready-to-use ideas for a September apple-theme. This theme is particularly rewarding because I’ve got several apple trees in my yard, meaning I have plentiful access to apples in September.
Additionally, it is important that children learn more about the food they eat and how it grows – especially food that isn’t packaged.
What I like most about the apples unit is that it combines learning about food and where food comes from with a unit that really focuses on building a variety of language skills. After these activities, your learners should be more comfortable with asking/answering questions, doing some simple compare and contrast activities, understanding/using prepositions, and learning a variety of new vocabulary.
If you try out the unit, feel free to get in touch on social media and let me know how it went!
If you are interested in more low-prep activities you can scroll back to previous posts to: learn about some simple sidewalk chalk activities or some must-have SLP websites for planning speech therapy sessions.
Sarah Lockhart is a speech-language pathologist in private practice in Ashland, Oregon. Her clinic focuses on helping children ages 0-5 communicate, including diagnoses such as ASD, CAS, and Language Delays.