Feeding Invisible Fish in Speech Therapy

Feeding Invisible Fish in Speech Therapy

Do you have a water bottle that you always bring with you to work? Chances are, you probably do. Did you know that your water bottle could easily be used as an ideal speech therapy tool to help your student work on improving his/her expressive language? You didn’t know that, did ya? Well, sit back and relax while I tell you all about how a simple water bottle and some clapping hands helped one of my students to be a more effective communicator.

Invisible fish? Huh?

Let’s call this 2nd grade student Katy (hey, Katy Perry is on the radio right now, catchy tunes!). One of Katy’s goals and objectives was to be able to describe fantasy versus reality more confidently. On this particular Monday morning, Katy came into the speech therapy room and noticed my clear water bottle sitting on the table. She asked me, “Is that your water bottle, Mr. Raj?” So naturally, me being the funny SLP that I am, responded with, “Nope, it’s my aquarium for my invisible fish.” She looked at me puzzled. It was obvious that I stumped her. I was determined to educate her on exactly what my response meant.

Together, we looked at the water bottle and we spoke about how there indeed were fish inside, but the fish were invisible, thus the invisible fish existed in our minds and imagination. That’s fantasy. She was still a bit confused, so I decided to take it one step further. I grabbed a sheet of paper and started to rip it to tiny pieces. I held the pieces in my hand and asked her what was I holding? She easily replied, “Little pieces of paper, duh.” Exactly! I then started to tell her that in reality, these ARE little pieces of paper, but now let’s enter our fantasy world to see if we can notice a change.

Feedin’ those invisible fish!

I asked her to make one VERY loud clap sound with her hands. This sound was how we would travel back and forth between fantasy land and reality land. With a clap of her hand, we were now in fantasy land and I informed her that the pieces of paper were now FISH FOOD! She smiled and with that little smirk, I knew she was starting to get it.

ARGH! Sunken pirate ships!

I shared some of the pretend fish food with Katy and we started to feed our invisible fish while we were in fantasy land. Then I clapped, and just like that, we were back in reality land. I then picked up a few small paper clips and placed them in her hand. I reminded her that we were still in reality land and asked her what was in her hand. She knew to say “paper clips.” I then clapped and asked her the same question. Her next reply made me so proud. She proclaimed, “sunken pirate ships!” as she dropped the paper clips into the water bottle! I was so ecstatic!

For the rest of that 30 minute session, Katy, myself, and another student had a blast as we searched around the speech therapy room for other little items that we could drop into the water bottle. Katy found the following fantasy/reality things all on her own:

  • 4 M&M’s = bean bag chairs for the fish to nap on.
  • 2 dimes = picnic tables for the fish to sit at.
  • 1 pencil eraser = a soccer ball for the fish to play with.
  • 1 penny = a trampoline for the fish to jump on.
  • 1 pen cap = a guitar for the fish to play.

In closing . . .

It was awesome to see how well this particular student was able to clearly differentiate fantasy from reality with the help of an auditory helper (hand clap sound). Having those physical objects in front of her really helped her to verbalize and express the various scenarios. It’s my hope that this blog post can trigger some off-the-wall ideas for your students who may be struggling with some of what Katy was stuck on. Good luck, friends!

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