As a proud speech-language pathologist, I fully understand the importance of words and how they summarize everything we need to effectively express ourselves. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, I’m absolutely IN LOVE with words, so it goes without saying, I’m also IN LOVE with pictures. I feel it’s important for our speech students to reflect on their own communication humble beginnings so they can see how far they’ve come (because trust me, they have come a LONG way!). A perfect way to do this is to use baby photos of yourself and your students as a speech therapy material.
A super important homework assignment
One key question that I enjoy asking my elementary school-aged clients is, “Do you remember what your very first word was?” The most typical response I get is a very puzzled face. Most of my students don’t have a clue, so I take that opportunity to assign a super simple (but super important) homework assignment: “When you go home, you have to ask your parents what your first word was and also ask if you can borrow a couple of baby pictures to bring to speech class.”
I used to be little, too! Cool, huh?
After the homework has been assigned, I then whip out a picture of a young curly-haired boy holding onto a Curious George stuffed monkey. “Who is that a picture of?” my students inquire. I proudly announce to them that it’s a photo of ME as a preschool student! Every time I do this, the speech room usually starts to fill with tons of skepticism, but I assure them that Mr. Raj never tells a lie. I tell them about how much I adored that stuffed monkey, how I would carry him everywhere I went, and that my very first word EVER was, “monkey.”
Questions to ask your students
You can use the following questions to get your speech students chattin’ and thinkin’ about THEIR first words.
- What do you think was the first word you ever said? (Make sure to write it down to see if they were correct when they actually bring in their answer.)
- How do you think your parents felt when they heard that you were able to talk? Why do you think they felt that way?
- Why do you think it’s important for children to learn how to talk?
- What do you think was the first word you said this morning? Who did you say it to?
- What is the one word that you can’t live without? Why do you like that word so much?
In closing . . .
Just as we can visually see in a picture how tall a child grows with age, it’s equally amazing to hear a child’s vocabulary grow with age, too. Words, both written and spoken, are the building blocks of language and it’s crucial that our students understand the beautiful gift that they have. Give this speech therapy activity a try and let me know how it goes. I look forward to hearing from you!