Painters work with colour and form – Musicians work with sounds, rhythms – Poets work with words. Words are hard to pin down – they slither away from you, yet they are the best way we have of convening ideas, thoughts and emotions.

(Bill Moore – Words that Taste Good)

Teachers, educational therapists, and anyone working with students have to love words. Language is the basis of our communication with our students. Students today are clever, much more technically savvy than I am, and quick to find their answer through Google or Siri. Our lives are cluttered with words through our text messages, emails, tweets, and so forth, so that we give little thought to words.

What is sometimes lacking is the love for language, the joy of letting words roll over your tongue, or writing haikus with a very limited number of words. Thoughts are often rushing, schedules demanding, homework overwhelming, and this gives little time for a student or for us as educators to reflect on words.

children-speaking-wordsReclaim the Use of Words

Here are some ideas you can incorporate in your classroom, special education room, or therapy station, to reclaim the use of “words”.

  1. Use figurative language on a weekly basis

    So here’s a thought to make your students ruminate on words, either in the classroom or in your therapy station. Introduce figurative language on a weekly basis. Start the week with an expression and enjoy the blank look on your students’ faces. (Eg: “Let the fur fly” They might look at you like you came from another planet.) A few will try to make some wild guesses as to the meaning. Don’t give the answer, but let the students reflect on the expression for a few days, giving clues later if needed.
  2. Encourage word usage by using poetry in various ways 

    Use poetry in a variety of formats, even if it’s not on your curriculum for the term.

    1. Pocket poem: Carry a little poem in your pocket you wrote sharing something of the day. Encourage your student(s) to have one in their pocket too every Wednesday morning. Share these in fun ways.
    2. Shape poem: Choose a shape (eg snowflake, heart…depending on a theme possibly) and have the student(s) fill the shape with just words relating to the shape…
    3. Limerick: Limericks are always fun poems…speak to your student(s) in a limerick. For example:I am a therapist from Coldsprings,
      I wish sometimes that I had wings,
      I’d sell my old red car
      Eat a huge chocolate bar
      And fly to Florida with all my things.

      Now it’s the students turn to have fun with words and rhyming. If your student struggles with writing, just do it orally, and work on it together, then share it on the whiteboard. Keep it light. (These are a few of my favourites, but there are lots more to explore!


  3. Play games with words 

    Make words fun by integrating word usage into games. 

    1. Boggle: an old game, but still a favourite with many students. Can be found in second hand stores for a quarter.
    2. Throw a ball: One activity which is helpful for students struggling with language is throwing a ball and think of all the animals you can think of (or plants, or songs..etc) Words can be given in alphabetical order. It is important the instructor does it too, so it’s a co-operative game, and as you do it the student gains fluency. Make it fun, and if you knock down the clock (which we did the first time), that adds to the fun.
    3. Speed Scrabble: This can be done with alphabet tiles or scrabble tiles…make your own version to suit the ability of the child, and if needed, play with a handicap yourself. (eg: you may only do four letter words or more.)

These are just a few ideas to “play with words”. Have fun as the words “slither” through your day! Share your fun ideas with us.