by: Blair Gorenberg MA, CCC-SLP
Speech therapy usually involves the use of many different types of activities and tools. Speech therapists use these tools in order to customize each session for that child. Not everyone needs the same help in the same area, so having access to different games, exercises, tools, etc. can help the speech therapist find something that works for every child. One common type of tool used is picture scenes.
What are picture scenes?
Speech therapists use a variety of materials to stimulate speech and language. One of the most versatile stimuli you can use in speech therapy is a picture scene. A picture scene is just that, a visual full of a variety of things to talk about. Imagine someone took a picture of a playground full of children and their families. How many different items and people could you name in just one picture of a playground? The options are endless!
What can you use picture scenes for?
Picture scenes can address several goals that your child is working on in therapy. Expressive and receptive language as well as articulation targets are easily incorporated into visuals found in children’s books, printouts, or scenes you draw yourself!
How do you use picture scenes in speech therapy?
A picture scene can be used on its own or with other stimuli. For example, a picture printed in black and white allows for the child to color each item in the picture as it’s talked about. Covering items in the picture with small toys or coins can be used as a motivator for your child to collect items to play with when the activity is complete.
Early intervention in speech therapy is crucial to ensuring these tools can be the most effective. So whether it’s at home or with their therapist, here are some examples of ways one might work with your child’s goal using a picture scene.
Point to each item in the scene and ask your child to name what you are pointing to. If your child doesn’t know the name of the object, you can provide some helpful hints. For example, when pointing to a dog, you can say “it says woof, it’s furry.” You can also work on the child’s receptive (understanding) language by saying a word and having the child point to it in the picture scene.
Ask your child questions such as “what is the girl doing?” “where are they” “how does he feel?” or “when do you go to the park?”
ask your child about the location of items throughout the scene. Some keywords to target are up, down, next to, in front of, behind, between, on, in, over, and under. You can also work on your child’s receptive (understanding) language by saying “what is next to the dog?”
directions can range from basic 1 step commands (“point to the dog”) to complex, multi-step directions (“color the tree green and put a blue circle around the girl”).
allow your child to make inferences about various activities that are happening in the scene. You can also play “I spy” by giving your child hints about an item in the picture and having them guess what you are describing.
fill the visual scene with words that start with a sound you are targeting. For example, when addressing /t/ at the beginning of words, the scene can include a tiger, table, tablet, tongue, timer, toaster, and tools.
Picture Scenes Are Great For Every Environment
Whether it’s a picture from a book or a stand-alone scene, pictures can be very helpful in eliciting communication from your child. Visuals give your child an anchor, something to continuously reference in structured activities and conversation. Picture scenes are perfect to use in all environments, regardless of the speech or language target that is being addressed. Plus, they’re perfect to use for all ages, whether your two-year-old needs speech therapy or your six-year-old!
If you’ve tried this activity at home, but still feel your child needs some extra help with their speech, it may be time to reach out to an expert. If you are concerned about your child’s speech or language, contact The Therapy Place today to schedule an evaluation with one of our speech pathologists!
Allisonfors, et al. “How to Use Picture Scenes in Speech Therapy + Free Scenes.” Allison Fors, Inc., 3 Jan. 2022, https://allisonfors.com/picture-scenes-speech-therapy/.
“Picture Scenes for Articulation Speech Therapy.” Thedabblingspeechie, 22 Mar. 2022, https://thedabblingspeechie.com/2021/05/picture-scenes-speech-therapy/.
Unknown, and kinder8. “At Home Speech Therapy Picture Scenes Set 2.” Autism Little Learners, 25 July 2021, https://autismlittlelearners.com/at-home-speech-therapy-picture-scenes/.