top of page

How to Develop Speech and Language in P-K Classrooms

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

Some scholars need more help with developing language than others. Here are three activities you can do as a general education teacher to develop and support language building. We use simple examples, but you can pick any key word or words to apply these activities to.

Activity #1 Rhyme Time

For verbal and non-verbal scholars who are practicing sounds and words, rhyme time is fun and develops their language and speech. First, teach them to rhyme. Use images and cards where the words rhyme. Make a game of matching them together.

Follow up by reading a short picture book filled with rhymes. Emphasize the words that rhyme as you read.

Read the book a second time- pausing at the word that rhymes. The pictures will give the scholars a visual clue to what the word is, and after hearing the book once they will be able to recall some of the words. Give your scholars time to complete the sentence by saying the next word with your pause. Allow scholar who need support in communication to point or hold up a card showing the next word that is spoken.

Try using “When I’m Feeling Red”, or “When I’m Feeling Blue” for this activity as well as the other suggested activities in this article. Watch the book readings with your students.

Activity #2 Point and Repeat

This activity is great for neurotypical and neurodivergent scholars. Use guided questions to build language while pointing and asking them to repeat each syllable after you. Have them bring all the syllables together to say the word. Add in additional learning moments through guided questions. Here is an example for a guided discussion to build language and speech for the word “tractor”:

  1. Where is the tractor? Can you point to the tractor?

  2. Good job! That’s the tractor.

  3. Can you say TRAK-?

  4. Scholars: “trak”

  5. Now say “TR”-

  6. “tr”

  7. Good job!

  8. Now, let’s put it together, say “trak-tr”-

  9. Scholars repeat to the best of their ability

  10. Great job everyone!

  11. Can anyone tell me what color the tractor is?

  12. Scholar answers

  13. Educator encourages and praises them

Tip: For non-verbal scholars provide a color chart for them to point to and match the color of the tractor. You can also provide a sound chart for them to participate in the speaking portion of the activity. Alter your questions to “can you say or show me”. Allow them to feel comfortable, never force them to participate, these activities should always be fun. Even if they’re sitting their watching, they are still absorbing information and learning.

Activity #3 Speech Movement Moments

Combine a fun movement to represent a word. For instance, “bunny”, could be two hops with your arms drawn in tight. The two hops go with each syllable of the word. Say each syllable of the word with each hop. Using movement while teaching language will make new connections in through their neuropathways. Allowing students who learn by doing internalizes and reinforces the new word- with the correct pronunciation. Pretend play as an animal, vehicle, or character can be fun and also promotes deeper understanding.

Try to incorporate music into these activities. Music light up different parts of the brain while learning and is a great addition to movement moment learning activities.

Try this “movement moment” video activity with your class while also incorporating social emotional learning.

Build language. Have fun. Release energy. Get kids back to focusing on learning through play.

Kids Freeze Dance provides tons of fun movement learning based lessons we highly recommend.

Loved these SEL Books?

You can support the creators of the “When I’m Feeling” books by getting a signed copy for your classroom. Let us know how you liked these activities in the comments. Remember to follow us on social media and tag us in any activities you used in the article!


bottom of page