Language-Rich Picture Books and Extension Activities

Picture books are my very favorite way to share speech, language and concepts with my children, and I’ve found them especially useful with Noah (6-Down syndrome and suspected apraxia). I often find myself wishing I could capture all the teachable moments and language opportunities each book has to offer. So this page is an attempt to do just that. We will be working on typical speech and language skills here that you might find your child working on in speech therapy or in his preschool classroom. Many of these activities give children the opportunity to produce the target word multiple times – very important in my work with Noah. Speech and language pathologists will find material to use in their sessions and ideas to send home with parents. Since ASL (American Sign Language) has been so integral in Noah’s speech acquisition, and I think the motor planning component of ASL is the key to unlocking some speech disorders like apraxia and other motor planning issues, you’ll also find lots of ASL resources to go with the books.

It may not look like much right now (December 2012), but I’ll be adding to it frequently. Here you’ll find ideas on how to use teachable moments within the book to teach and practice new concepts and speech and language opportunities. You’ll also find links to extension activities such as arts and crafts and printables relating to the subject matter in each book. This is an open page, so if you have a favorite book that you’ve stretched, tell me about it in the comments and include links, and I’ll add your book, activities and blog site to the list.

How to use these books: Pick two or three extension activities to do with your child per reading of the book. Plan on reading the book at least three to five times to your child over the course of a week, only one time per sitting unless your child is jumping up and down begging you to read it over and over. Darn, mine never do that.

Extension Activities:

  • Speech and Language Targets: These are the words and sounds I identify in the book that are target speech productions for Noah and other children struggling with early speech production and/or American Sign Language. Ofter times I will provide ASL flash cards or charts for the words we are working on in ASL or recurring words throughout the book. You’ll find it easiest to look up the signs on free ASL video sites like or and use the printables as reminders. Just keep the ASL printables handy for reference as you read the book. Keep your eye out in the book for these speech and language target words, and after you read the text, point to the item and say, “What is this?” You may have to demonstrate the answer, but the goal is for them to name the item. After they name it, give them verbal affirmation and repeat the word, cueing another speech and/or ASL production and then another (3 is a good target).
  • Concept Activities: These are printables, sign language, crafts, file folder games and whatever else I can pull together that link the words and illustrations in the book to developmental and academic speech and language concepts Noah is working on. I will also include links to other websites which have material relevant to the theme and/or listed book.
  • Additional Resources: Here you’ll find the free resources available that mean I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You’ll find things like Tot Packs, file folder games, worksheets, etc.
  • Pinterest Boards:Links to Pinterest boards either on the book itself or on the subject matter.

Books by Subject/Target Word:


Cowboy Camp by Tammi Sauer

For instructions on how to use the Cowboy Camp materials below and for more extension activities, please see the original blog post here:

Cowboy Camp Synopsis: Join Avery as he goes off to cowboy camp with a too-small hat, a too-big belt buckle and too-red boots. He battles some pretty big insecurities and winds up being the hero of the camp.

Speech Words: Ah-ah-ah choo!, boot, beans, ASL printables – Cowboy Camp ASL – moon, hat, cow, horse, ASL video clip for boots –, ASL video clip for cowboy –

Concepts – Big and Little: cowboy camp big and little file folder game

Color Matching: cowboy camp color word matching file folder game

Additional Resources (all free, all the time): – Here you’ll find a TON of cowboy- and Texas-themed ideas for preschoolers and kindergarteners – printables, arts and craft activities, etc. – Here are those high-quality “tot” or preschool packs – pre-writing sheets, number puzzles, alphabet identification, labeling – all high quality adorable cowboy graphics. This preschool pack even comes with a kindergarten expansion pack.


Peek-A-Boo Morning by Rachel Isadora

Synopsis:  Join this sweet child as she peek-a-b00s her way through a day filled with family, friends and toys.

For instructions on how to use the printables below and to see the complete post on Peekaboo Morning, please visit

American Sign Language:

ASL - Family Names
ASL Flashcards for family names (click on thumbnail) – mommy, daddy, grandma, grandpa, plus a few others.

Peek-A-Boo Morning ASL – flashcards for me, my, you, bunny, train, friend, puppy, butterfly and friend.

Target WordsMy, mommy, daddy, me, puppy, train (choo choo), and bunny.

Language Concepts:  This is a fabulous book for reinforcing the names of family members.  Mommy, Daddy, me, Grandpa and Grandma are all used within the text.

Sequencing: The nature of this book makes it a great opportunity for sequencing practice.  Here are free printable PEC cards based on the story to use in a sequencing activity:

Peekaboo Morning Sequencing Cards

Repetitive Phrases: “Peek-a-Boo, I see . . .” appears on each two-page spread, prompting lots of hits on this target word.

Predictable Language: This is my favorite aspect of this adorable book.  On most of the “Peek-a-boo, I see . . .” pages, there is a small visual clue as to what will be on the next page, a puppy’s tail, a grandma’s hat, a newspaper hiding a grandpa, etc.  By drawing your child’s attention to that small detail, he can very excitedly guess what will be on the next page.

Extension Activity: Make your own Peek-a-Boo Morning book based on your child’s target words using photographs.  Take pictures of his favorite people and things, and create pages with text that read “Peek-a-Boo, I see . . .” alternating with the pictures of the object and appropriate text labeling.  This is a fun way for parents to make books about family life as well as for teachers and therapists to make books about friends. activities, and teachers at school.

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An extradorinary little boy, the ordinary people who love him, and their journey together through the world of visual learning and speech acquisition. (And in my "free time," vintage crochet, machine embroidery, digitizing and Etsy.)

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