I have had quite a few conversations over the last year with teachers and fellow SLPs about using worksheets and “coloring” in speech. Today I want to share with you a few thoughts about coloring and why in my speech room, it is MORE than JUST coloring.
My students are ages 3-6 years old with a variety of language, fine/gross motor, articulation and developmental delays. Many of them are from lower SES households. These risk factors alone mean that I have a LOT to work on in our small group time IN ADDITION to their specific speech and language goals.
I get the unique opportunity to work with my students in small groups of four or less. We spend about 30 minutes together, twice a week. During that time, I try to reinforce the skills they are learning in the classroom WITH speech and language intervention. Children with language delay require EXPLICIT instruction for certain concepts because they have not learned it through incidental exposure as other children have.
So again, in my speech room, coloring isn’t JUST coloring. What do we work on?
- Requesting: This may be using pictures, one word, phrases or sentences.
- Vocabulary: Naming items in the picture like seasonal or thematic vocabulary. Receptively that means pointing to the pictures (or coloring them in) as they are named. Expressively that means actually speaking the words or talking about the pictures.
- Following Directions (Basic Concepts): When giving instructions, simply make them very specific like, “Color the __ next to the __.” or “Color all of the space AROUND the __.” Include multi step directions by using conditional words (first/then, before/after). Provide directions to follow using shapes/sizes (something round, big).
- Cause/Effect: When children accidentally (or purposefully) color outside the lines, they quickly learn the effects of their error.
- Self-Control, Self-Confidence, Social Awareness: Through simple coloring activities, children learn how to take their time on a project, making their picture look unique and neat. They have to wait their turn occasionally for new colors or assistance and also wait until others are finished with their pages. All the while, they are also learning acceptable social behaviors from other children at the table.
I hope you see now why coloring is so important and why I choose to use it in my speech therapy room. If you would like to download a handout and data collection form with more details to share with your staff or parents, please do so BELOW:
I encourage your to practice language skills during coloring activities with your students or child. Working on key elements of language across multiple experiences in a child’s day will greatly increase their exposure to these skills.