Therapy Activity

Playing with sign and objects together

Last Updated: 15 August 2023

Appropriate Population: 

  • School-age (or slightly below)
  • Preschool. 


Goal: The child will be able to use signs within a play activity to support them to understand nouns and express themselves.   



  1. Discuss with parents and family, what are some noun words that would be  useful for the child to be able to say? Identify some priority words that the family would like to focus on. Objects that the child sees and uses everyday are a good place to start.
  2. Go on a hunt with the child and collect these items. As you look for them you want to talk about their location, and repeat the word as much as you can.”. Hmmm a toothbrush, that will be in the bathroom, let’s find a toothbrush in the bathroom”
  3. Go on  or use the key word sign app to to find the sign that matches each noun. You can follow the instructions on the link to create a “grid” with the words you want to focus on.
  4. Together with the child go through each item that you have collected and practise using the sign as you talk about the item. You want to describe and repeat the word and sign as much as you can. Talk about: What does it look like? (Color size, shape).Function:  What do you do with it? Who uses it? When do they use it?

    Each time you say the noun word you want to use the sign. Never do the sign without saying the word aloud as well. Follow the child’s lead. if they are looking at the bristles of the toothbrush, talk about those. If they move onto another object then talk about that instead.

  5. Have the child point to different objects at random from the group of things,  repeat their name and the action together.
  6. Swap roles of step 5, Point to different noun words and see if the child can do the sign and say the word.
  7. Show the parents what you have worked on, together with the child you can teach parents the signs. Explain to them the purpose of key-word sign and talk with them about how they might incorporate it in their routines to help the child transfer the skills you have worked on in your session. You can show  them these website pages or print them off.


  1. Repeat step three as you return all of the items to their original places. 


Step up: 

  • Include more nouns.
  • Use more complex sentences.
  • Prompt  the child to say the noun and do the action independently. 


Step down:

  • Focus on steps four and five. 
  • Focus on input rather than pressuring the child to use the sounds or the word. 



  • Items in the child’s home. 
Fora's Speech Pathology team


Fora's Speech Pathology team

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