top of page

(VIDEO) How to Use Books to Target Tier 2 Vocabulary Goals for Speech Therapy

Updated: May 20

A step-by-step guide to teach your students tier 2 words using storybooks to help them meet their vocabulary goals for speech therapy

*Free download below*

As school-based speech-language pathologists, we know that we need to incorporate vocabulary instruction into our language therapy. Research shows that our students' vocabulary knowledge is a critical factor for listening comprehension, reading comprehension, and writing.

Watch this video, or read below, for a step-by-step guide on how to support your students' knowledge of tier 2 vocabulary using literature-based speech therapy activities:

According to the Reading Rockets website:

"Tier 2 words are less common words that many children might not know but that still might be found across a wide range of texts. Examples of these kinds of words for typical third graders might be limped, crimson, flutter, and fortunate. These words are particularly useful to target in vocabulary instruction, because they will be new to many children and useful in understanding a range of texts."

The Vocabulary section of StoryWhys book companions makes teaching tier 2 words easy; it facilitates previewing, emphasizing, and reinforcing vocabulary from the story so you can support students who have vocabulary goals for speech therapy.

StoryWhys book companions feature a collection of tier 2 words from the story, along with images that help to depict their meaning.

  • STEP 1: Before you actually start reading the book, print out the vocabulary section, cut out the pictures, and preview the words with your students. The pictures are there to support comprehension of the words, but you’ll see that, for words that represent concepts, the pictures can be more abstract and might require more explanation or examples. For example, students can get a pretty clear understanding of the meaning of words like clothesline and trapeze from the picture, but words like devise and vast are more abstract.

I prefer pictures to wordy definitions, and my pet peeve is when I see tier 2 vocabulary defined using other tier 2 Vocabulary words. For our language-impaired students, this can just make it harder.

  • STEP 2: As you preview the words and pictures with your students, encourage them to classify the words of “I know what it means”, “I’ve heard it, but I’m not sure what it means”, or “I don’t know this word at all”. This will show you which words need more reinforcement as you read the story.

  • STEP 3: As the story is read, keep the pictures on the table and encourage your students to listen for when these words appear in the book, but watch that this isn’t distracting from comprehension. You can develop a signal that isn’t too disruptive, like a knock on the table, when they notice a target word. When a word your student was unfamiliar with comes up in the story, take this opportunity to use context to deepen their understanding of that word.

  • STEP 4: Encourage your students to use these words as they engage in discussion about the events of the book, especially as you work on the other sections and activities of the book companion. This will encourage your students ability to generalize the meaning of these words to other contexts.

  • STEP 5: Finally, when everything else with the book is done, make vocabulary cards with all of the vocabulary words. See if they can spell the words on their own as they make the cards by cutting off the label and just preserving the image. You can also create a Story Words Wall, and have your students classify the words as nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.

Want to use high-quality, engaging storybooks to help your students reach their tier 2 vocabulary goals? Here's a link to many resources to help you do that. And note the free download for the tier 2 vocabulary words in the story Click Clack Moo, Cows That Type.


Did you enjoy this blog post? Subscribe below to get the latest blog posts, which feature lots of speech therapy ideas for busy SLPs who want to provide fun, impactful, and meaningful speech-language therapy.

Have you heard? StoryWhys now offers the Speech and Spell series of resources. I am always trying to tie articulation work and spelling together in my therapy and I've never found any good resources out there to help me do this. So I made my own! Many more speech sounds and spelling rules to come. They'll be 50% off for 48 hrs when new resources are added to the StoryWhys store. Find them here.

Did you know book companions can be among the best speech therapy materials for elementary students? Explore all of the StoryWhys book companions for speech therapy in my store. You'll find comprehensive book companions that target many different language skills or Spotlight Series book companions that focus on one type of skill, all using high-quality, beloved storybooks.

And get your FREE, 71-page book companion for speech therapy on the Special Offers page.


link to StoryWhys homepage


bottom of page