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Using the Expanding Expression Tool in Speech Therapy


The Expanding Expression Tool (EET) is an amazing resource created by Sara L Smith. You can find the kit here, but I just wanted to relay how it is being used in my speech room.

Our kiddos with expressive language disorders have a very difficult time expressing common vocabulary, retelling events, and much more. The EET provides a multi-sensory approach for oral and written expressions, defining and describing, vocabulary comprehension, and so much more. Not only do I use the EET for building vocabulary by breaking each part down, I also use it for story retell. The possibilities of this tool are endless and I have seen great success with my students!

Vocabulary Building

Green - Group
Blue - Do
Eye - Looks like
Brown - Made of
Pink - Parts
Orange - What else do you know?

We keep a DIY visual aid on our wall for quick reference. We used velcro to attach them to the wall and grab when targeting a specific area. When first introducing EET, you will want to teach one "bead" at a time. Especially if you are servicing a higher needs caseload. My students needed help defining the green bead or, what a "group" was so we completed some receptive sorting activities with pictures to determine what a "category" or "group" was. Then, we moved on to the blue bead - the function or "do" bead. If you have ELL students, this is a very difficult skill. I typically teach the function of objects using visual aids. Once your students have mastered the group and function, you will then move on to teaching the eye bead - or what does the object look like. For those students that have a difficult time visualizing objects, provide visual aids for a better understanding and slowly fade them out. Next you will talk about the wood or brown bead - this bead is for explaining what the object is made of or how it feels. The pink bead will elicit different parts of the object, i.e. tree-branches/leaves/bark/roots/etc...The white bead is to probe the location or where its from/belongs. Lastly, the orange bead is to add more information and talk about what else you know about the object.

Story Retell

Green - What group is involved?
Blue - What did they do? or What did you do?
Eye - Describe the visual details
Brown - How "wood" they feel? How "wood" you feel?
Pink - Describe and sequence important parts of the story.
Orange - Is there anything else to add?

To elaborate on this, my older students have such a hard time retelling stories that their peers (and myself) loose interest or get lost with their scattered story telling. Using the EET allows for a clear, sequenced story line with characters, details, and events. First, they start with telling who is involved with the green bead. Then, they elaborate on what happened or what the characters did in the story for the blue bead. Usually this part is brief as the details happen during the pink bead. Next, they paint a vivid picture in their listeners mind using the white eye bead. They can add an illustration or describe the setting in more detail. Then, they discuss the feelings of themselves or the characters in the story at the brown bead. Then, they add sufficient details with the pink bead. The white bead can be used to reflect on the story thus far, did they give adequate detail, etc. The orange bead can be used to summarize the story or event, add a resolution or ending, and reflect on what happened. Maybe target some higher level thinking i.e., What would you do in this situation? How would something like this make you feel? Included a moral to the story.

The EET can be used in soo many ways! Do you use the EET? How do you incorporate it into therapy?


Lacee Johnson
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