I've been reading some blogs lately that hit on this very subject. I don't know how to do anything BUT Theme-Based Therapy! When you work in the schools, with our diverse caseloads, planning would be a total nightmare without it!
One of the first things I told my intern was to plan her therapy according to themes. Another thing I told her to do was to try to do the same activity with multiple groups and modify according to each student's ability level. Doing those 2 things drastically reduces the amount of time it takes to plan, thus relieving a lot of stress.
There are different ways to incorporate themes in your therapy:
1)Find out what the Kindergarten teachers are doing and coincide with their themes. I tried that at one point, and ran into these problems: 1) The Kinders at my 2 schools weren't doing the same theme, and 2) they would often forget to tell me what they were doing, or tell me at the last minute so my planning was done last minute, which increased my stress level. If you're in 1 school and have Kindergarten teachers that plan way in advance, it would work very well.
2)Monthly themes. This is my preferred way to incorporate themes in therapy. I hit on seasonal activities, as well as holidays within that particular month. Here is a monthly break-down:
Beach activities, because that's when our students come back to school & it's still hotter than blue blazes! Next year, I'm planning on splitting August & September up just a bit and doing a camping theme. I just bought Sparklle SLP's Camp In. There are enough activities in that packet to do at least a 2-week theme. Plus, there are some other SLP bloggers who already do a camping theme, so I'm going to
steal get some ideas from them; like the campin' cookies Doyle Speech Works put on her blog!
Back to School for a couple of weeks followed by fall activities until Fall Break (the first week in October).
Halloween the rest of October.
Thanksgiving. I don't think you'll be surprised when I say that a lot of the kids have no idea what Thanksgiving is really about.
Winter in January & February (I may hit on some Valentine's Day activities in Feb. & I did a week of Mardi Gras...I'm going to expand that next year thanks to Mia @ Putting Words in Your Mouth)
Spring in March (after Spring Break) & April. I usually throw a couple of weeks of Easter in there (depending on the date), and every now and then will do a week of St. Patrick's Day. We're out for Spring Break during St. Patrick's Day, so I don't spend a lot of time on it.
I have to admit, I'm a bit of a slacker in May. I usually look through my stash to see what I haven't done during the year; material that doesn't really fit a "theme". May is a short month for us since we get out for summer the 3rd week, and there's field trips, field days, programs, etc. I think you know exactly what I mean!
I don’t remember doing anything but themes in my 30+ years of being a School SLP. With our diverse caseloads, it definitely makes planning a lot easier, thus making us less “frenzied”!
If you plan your therapy around themes, how do you do it? Does it work for you?