I really like being able to target a specific skill (like multiple meaning words) all year long by rotating new vocabulary through a similar structured format. It makes so much more sense to my kiddos to have a familiar way to think about the concept as they are being introduced to different vocabulary. And of course, it makes it much more engaging to rotate thematic vocabulary instead of randomly selected words. I will challenge my students at the beginning of the unit to guess how these words are related, or why I chose those specific multiple meaning words. Sometimes it is very obvious (like at Halloween). But others can be a little more subtle (I had to give many cues for them to guess Earth Day). There are also a few words that find their way into multiple units, which is a natural way to check for carryover.
One reason that I love my job is that you can really find language and articulation goals in each and every topic or story! When I introduce this unit we talk a lot about the “what, why, who, when, where” of taking care of our earth. They pretty much are all aware of the recycling bin for paper, but when we talk about “why” or “how” we get into some interesting discussions! I have a lanyard that is made from recycled sprite bottles that they always find fascinating. I find it interesting too, that many kids aren’t familiar with reusable shopping bags instead of plastic bags. We always have a good discussion about the reasoning behind reusing instead of getting something new each time. I have started to make an effort to talk about reusing and recycling throughout the year because I found that each year I have to build up some background knowledge with this unit, before diving into the language concepts.
Many of my students need support in understanding categories. We talk about WHAT a category is and HOW items fit into each group. We did category sorts where we sorted pictures using the following categories:
When given the chance to think of items belonging to each category, one student clearly did not understand the vocabulary attached to the concept of living/nonliving. So I pulled out one of my science books (in the picture above), which is appropriately named “Living vs. Non-living”. Once we read through many visual examples he had a better foundation and was able to generate more examples for me.
We built upon the knowledge from the categories to use more descriptive language. My kiddos described trash/recyclable, ocean/land, day/night, living non-living using the characteristics of location, action, function, category, time, color, parts with a familiar template. We also used a Venn diagram to compare/contrast. You’ll notice in the picture that I’ve started to use the reusable plastic sleeves a lot more instead of making copies. (How’s that for celebrating Earth Day all year long!) I used the paper copies in the past because I wanted the kids to have something to take home (and I still do periodically). I have also started taking snapshots with my iPad and emailing parents and teachers with a quick note about what we did. Same effect but more responsible with my resources!
We talked through some idioms as well. I have kiddos at different levels…some are being exposed to the idea of figurative language, and others are at the stage of being able to learn and retain.
For the students who are gaining more experience with the idioms, they explored with drawing and writing using a few idioms. I also have kids who like to sing or act out the definitions, so we grab my jumbo microphones and the large rug becomes their stage!
You can find the “Down to Earth: Idioms, Categories, and Descriptive Language“ packet in my TPT store.
If you are working on Vowel+R sounds with your students, then the Earth Day theme is for you!!!! This packet focuses on only a few target sounds (s/z, l, r/r-blends, vowel+R), although it does have a blank page where you can incorporate your own targets. I was able to pull sh/ch/j sounds from the Earth Facts page and create a new page for one of my first graders.
The dominoes cards also worked really well for my students learning vocabulary and expanding sentence structure. So it doesn’t have to be used strictly for the target articulation sound. The cards also serve as an easy game for RTI or home carryover. (Color coded by sound to easily sort. I also back with coordinated color paper)
My students love being able to draw, and I love for them to write their words or incorporate into sentences. So this is a win-win activity!
Higher level readers can independently read and underline target sounds on the page of Earth facts. Students then transfer target words to blank boxes to create a word list for study and review. Incorporates sound awareness, reading, and writing (and of course fun tidbits about our planet).
Remember those multiple meaning words I mentioned? Well I have an entire packet devoted to them. (And even though it’s free, this is a regular packet, not just a glimpse.) You can read more about how I used this packet last year in this post.
We sorted the meanings, filled in sentences, drew both definitions, and practiced writing sentences in order to increase our exposure to these multiple meaning words. You can find the “I Love My Earth Multiple Meaning Word FREEBIE” packet in my TPT store.
I hope you find something here that will be useful for your therapy room!