If you're an SLP or an early learning educator, you likely spend much of your day working with students on communication goals. There are so many great ways to do this, but my favorite is during snack time! If you're looking for a fun way to freshen up your methods for targeting communication goals, you're in luck! Today I'm sharing 5, fun tips for targeting communication goals during snack time.
Why Snack Time?
Working on communication and language development skills is a BIG process. Children need to be exposed to opportunities to practice these goals in a variety of ways to make progress. I love using snack time to work on goals because it's a little less obvious to the kiddos that we're working on speech goals.
Using snack time as your environment for targeting communication goals will lighten the mood, spark interest in students, and help bring shy kiddos out of their shells. Not to mention, food is a GREAT motivator for students! Yummy snacks can coax even the most timid kiddos into working hard on their communication and language goals.
When targeting communication goals during snack time there's a handful of suggestions I have that will make things SO much easier. These 5 tips are the exact steps I recommend taking to encourage communication and language skills during snack time.
1. Show & Say
First up, take some time to model words and phrases with your kiddos. You might start out snack time by pointing out all of the items kiddos will be enjoying that day as well as making note of the utensils needed to consume them.
To do this, hold the object/food while labeling it. This reinforces the link between the word and objects to students. I like to say it again as I pass out these items to each child. It might sound something like this:
"Today we are having pretzels and orange slices. We will use a napkin to hold our food and a cup to drink our water. Here's a napkin for Sally. Here's a napkin for Billy..." and so on.
Taking this approach will fill the environment with vocabulary words right off the bat and continue to reinforce the connection between words and objects.
2. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
Repetition is so important when targeting communication goals! Kids need to hear words multiple times before they are able to understand and use them. Because of this, you'll want to make sure you are repeating words often! We did a bit of this in tip #1 but you can take this even further during snack time!
Repeat words and phrases often by using dialogue. If the students are having an apple for snack we could say things like this:
- Oh, you have a red APPLE.
- It's a yummy APPLE.
- This is a red APPLE.
- Do you want some APPLE?
- The APPLE is juicy.
Repeating words you're looking to target or introduce is a great way to show kiddos how these words are used in sentences. Doing this encourages children to use the words themselves.
3. Ration the Snack
This tip is a fun idea that will extend your snack time and present more opportunities to target communication goals. Choose snacks (if applicable) that can be cut or manipulated into smaller pieces. You can also encourage parents to send in snacks that can be rationed like fruit, veggies, small crackers, or cheese.
Using snacks that can be rationed or cut into small pieces creates opportunities for students to request and communicate. It also encourages them to wait, which is a valuable skill to practice among our littles! To use this technique do the following:
- Only give a small piece at a time. For example, if you have goldfish, give your student a few pieces at a time.
- Then as students begin finishing up their snacks, encourage them to work on asking for more by saying "I want more please" or "more" depending on skill level.
This is a simple trick that's easy to incorporate into your snack time routine and will provide motivation to students for targeting communication goals.
4. Always Encourage Communication
Next up, think about ways you can encourage constant communication and dialogue among your kiddos. Snack time is a social occasion and it's important to take advantage of this as an SLP! Always encourage students to communicate including feelings and intentions during snack time. Some great things to suggest to your students are:
- "all done"
- "I don't like it"
- "more please"
Using these phrases and encouraging communication will give students more opportunities to practice their expressive and receptive language skills.
Speaking in a social setting is also a big part of many students' language and communication goals, and snack time is a great opportunity to do so! As an added bonus encouraging communication among students also gives you, as the SLP, more chances to target those goals and asses students for progress.
5. Don't Stress
Finally, the most important tip - don't stress if things don't go as planned! Having fun is so important in speech sessions and classroom environments. A huge part of targeting communication goals is related to forming relationships with your students and building trust.
When we're working with young students, things will often go differently than planned! This is totally OK! Students won't know that your "lesson plan" didn't work out.
Whether you heard a two-word utterance or not, then it's a success. Taking the time to connect with students and presenting opportunities for language development is huge in itself! And remember there is always yummy food or snacks to eat, so it's a win-win as far as I'm concerned!
Level Up Snack Time with Visual Recipes
Ok friends, now that you've heard my 5 favorite ways to target communication goals during snack time, I have one bonus tip for you! If you're loving the progress you're seeing during snack with your students, try adding some dedicated cooking lessons to your sessions.
You'll be amazed at how many communication goals you'll be able to target through the use of visual recipes. Not to mention, engagement is high during cooking lessons, so you can count on having the full attention of your little learners!
If you want to try out visual recipes in your sessions or classroom, hop on over to the freebie section and snag one to try. This simple, Pretzel Flowers recipe can be used any time of the year and requires no actual cooking so it's a great place to start! Included you'll find my signature visual recipe card with step-by-step instructions, vocabulary cards, and comprehension questions to wrap up your activity.
If you're already hooked on cooking and preparing food in your sessions, be sure to check out my full Visual Recipe Cards for Kids resource. This physical product will be shipped right to your door and is filled with kid-friendly recipes perfect for speech sessions and the primary classroom. These recipe cards will make targeting communication goals during snack time fun and easy!
Save This Post
Save this post on your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you'll be all set when it comes time to plan your snack time communication activities!