The School SLP

Go For Gold With 10 Winter Olympics Ideas for Speech Therapy

I don’t know about you, but I have been watching a lot of Winter Olympics coverage this week. But I have been surprised how few of my students have watched. Give them a taste however, and they are hooked. Here are a few ways to target speech and language goals with some Olympic inspiration.  So many Winter Olympics ideas for speech therapy!

The first thing I do is ask everybody if they know what the Olympics are.  We usually talk a little about sports and what kind of sports happen at winter Olympics. Many of the sports in the Olympics are not easily accessible if you don’t live near a mountain so many kids have never been on skis or been on ice skates.  We try to find connections to things like roller skating or skateboarding.

A visual is helpful to everyone so I have a couple of clips cued up to watch in order to get everyone on the same page. See the links at the bottom of the page for quick access to YouTube videos. You can also just do a quick Google search to find lots of available clips. Idea #8 is my most favorite.  Thanks Becca for coming up with it!

How to Use the Winter Olympics to Target Articulation

  1. It hit me as I sat there watching the snow boarding event; there are a lot of S blends in the winter Olympics! Right off the bat: snow, ski, and skate.  After watching the clips, here is a list of S-Blends that seems tailor made for targeting s-blends in conversation.
  2. And don’t forget our favorite FL blends to use at the conversational level to talk about all the Olympic action!
  3. How many of you have middle or high school kids who are still working on R in conversational speech? I have quite a few who have the skills but need it drilled into them.  I have found the most effective way to do this is reading.  The Winter Olympics does not disappoint for R.  We have curling!  Here is a fun article from Mental Floss for targeting R and R blends in all positions.  (ex: Curling, rock, droplets, friction, broom, target)

How to Use the Winter Olympics to Target Language

4. Verbs and pronouns: The Olympics are all action.  Watch this compilation from Olympics past to see some epic falls, crashes and mistakes.  (WARNING: Definitely preview to find your favorite. Lots of crashes!) There are lots of opportunities to ask: What happened? He fell.  She crashed.  He scored.  They tripped.  He won.  She lost.

5. Vocabulary: with so many new sports, pieces of equipment and successes and failures, there are lots of opportunities to build vocabulary.  You can also print out the Curling Article from the articulation section and grab your highlighters.  Have them highlight any new words and start defining.  You could also use EET to describe in depth a new sport or piece of equipment.

6. Categorization Describing game: show them a picture of the sport or the piece of equipment.  Ask them to name the category and at least two distinguishing features to help their group mates guess the mystery word. (ex: its a type of hockey equipment you wear on your feet that has blades: skates.

7. WH Questions: Who’s participating? Where are they? How do you win? What are they using? When did he crash? Why are they so excited?

8. Comparing and contrasting: Watch a pair of videos, the snowboarding and skating or hockey and luge work well as pairs.  I start by fishing to see if they can identify the category: “Snowboarding and Ice Skating are two kinds of……”  Then using the Off the Cuff Venn Diagram we start to talk about what’s the same what’s different about the two events. I usually focus on one or two categories (ex categories: clothing, location, equipment, team vs. individual, scoring)  This could be the jumping off point for a writing piece.  It would also work great to target comparatives and superlatives.

How to Use the Winter Olympics to Target Social

9. Topic Maintenance: Can everybody stay on topic? You could try Michelle Garcia Winner’s Add a Thought.

10. Take a look at this Olympic failure (below) where a hockey player scores on his own goalie. You will need to set the scene.  Identify which team is which and who the goalie is.  Have the kids identify what the plan of each team is.  The white team is trying to score a goal.  The red team is defending.  Something unexpected happens.  Use a thought bubble here to map out exactly what each of the players is feeling in this situation.  The two players from the white team and the the player from the red team who accidentally scored the goal are good targets.

Have the kids ever had an experience like this?  Can they make a prediction about what the players might be saying? Use this off the cuff talking bubble to write out their ideas and compare what they are thinking vs. what they are saying.


Links to YouTube Videos for Winter Olympics for Speech Therapy:

  1. Hockey (the Miracle on Ice)
  2. Luge
  3. Snowboarding
  4. Figure Skating
  5. Forward Swizzle