PreK Pushin: Math & Communication Goals– How do they go together?

Graph image by Creative Lessons Cafe

Push-in therapy.  In-class support.  Co-teaching.  Whatever you want to call it, going into the classroom to provide in-class support minutes to your students can definitely require some outside-of-the-box thinking if you’re not the one who has planned & is leading the lesson.  I know–it’s hard sometimes as SLPs to let go of having a set therapy plan at all times!

Depending on the schedule (a public school SLP’s favorite thing!), you might have to come in during small group instruction times and just keep your fingers crossed they’re doing a language arts-type activity and not something seemingly completely unrelated like, say… math.  As many preschool programs become more academic lesson-based rather than more play-based, you might be encountering situations like this more often when providing in-class minutes.

Sometimes, I come in and my students are at a group working on vocabulary (woot! My lucky day!).  Other times, I’m not so lucky, but with a little creative thinking, I can make it work.  Let’s take a look at this math activity where the class was learning the concept of graphing.  As they took turns rolling a die with various colored baseball hats, they colored a box in the column of the same-colored hat they rolled.

Upon first glance, one might be thinking, “Colors, counting, and graphing… completely unrelated to speech and language goals.  How do I target my students’ goals doing THIS?”  Well, I’m glad you asked! Here are a few different areas of preschool speech and language skills you can target in an activity like this:

1.  MLU
This activity would easily lend itself to structured sentence building.  Working on combining two words together? My turn, your turn, my roll, I roll, you roll, blue hat, red hat, etc….  Three word combos? “I got blue” “I have red” “More yellow hats” “Two blue hats” “My turn roll” etc…

2.  Basic Concepts
Preschool math involves learning about quantitative concepts, and many of my students have goals for basic concept knowledge.  With graphing, you can work on concepts like more/less/most (Which column has more? Which one has less, blue or red?  Which one has the most boxes colored in?) as well as full/empty/no/none (Are there any columns that are full? Any that are empty/that have none/that have no boxes colored?).  I also targeted spatial concepts like “Color the box that’s above/on top of  the yellow one you already colored”  or “The red column is next to the yellow column.”  Throw in some size concepts such as long/tall/short columns and make comparisons, too!

3.  Pronouns
If you have a student in the group working on pronouns, have them practice using “he” and “she” to tell you what their peers just rolled “He rolled a blue” “She rolled red” etc… and even “I” if they are using “me” instead of “I” (I had a kiddo on my caseload where we worked on using “I” for two school years.  His teacher would model it/recast it with emphasis when he made an error, as did I, the classroom paraprofessionals, and his other therapists.  We all did the happy dance this Spring when he finally started using it in conversation!)

4.  Articulation
I generally do pull-out therapy with my artic/phono kids, but try to do a little in-class support when I can, in a natural environment like the classroom.  With this activity, I can work with my artic students on initial /f/ (four, five), initial /t/ (my turn, two), initial /m/ (me, my turn), and /p, b/ sounds for colors like “pink” “purple” and “blue.”

Speech and language skills can be worked on just about anywhere, at any time!  How do you target communication goals in math or other seemingly unrelated lessons?