All That in Just 5 Minutes?

Today’s post is from a talented SLP in my county, Sara Martin, MS, CCC-SLP. I had the privilege of working with Sara when she was assigned to my school two years ago. She has started to use the 5 Minute Kids program at her elementary school when she was reassigned at the beginning of last school year. I thought it would be helpful to see another therapist perspective on the program. Thank you Sara for sharing your program with my readers and followers!

5 minute kids
All That in Just 5 Minutes?

Getting Started with a Tiered 5-minute therapy program
Two years ago, after a five-year stint at children’s hospital doing one-on-one outpatient therapy, I moved and took a job in a school.  before I left the hospital,  I told my husband that I thought kids would make more progress with short one-on-one sessions and I hoped that I could find a school that would let me test my theory.  As it turned out someone else had already tested the theory and all I had to do was implement it.

The first year, I just started with a student or two to see if it was really doable and so I didn’t have to amend lots of IEPs.  What I found surprised me even more than I thought it would. In 5 minutes of one-on-one therapy I was able to get nearly double the repetitions I was able to get during a 30-minute group session. Why? Simple, the student was focused and on task the entire time.

The next year I changed schools and by mid-year had about 10-15 second- and third-graders on the protocol.  Teacher’s loved it and “wouldn’t go back.”  Most parents were very receptive and appreciated that their child would spend more time in class.  The more I implemented the five-minute program, the more I loved it.  This coming year almost all of the second and third grade articulation therapy will follow a modified five-minute protocol, but this year I have added a group session to allow for extended conversation and peer conversation for generalization.  For students also receiving speech therapy for language, their language sessions serve as their group conversation session.

Here is the tiered model I plan to use:
Mild: 5-minutes x 2 weekly + monthly 30-minute group session
Moderate: 5-minutes x 3 weekly + monthly 30-minute group session
Severe: 5-minute x 3 weekly + WEEKLY 30-minute group session

Getting Ready:
I have a foldable pull-crate with pockets stocked with my iPad, my iPod (just in case and for a timer), several timers (variety is nice), articulation cards for the most commonly targeted phonemes, extra paragraphs and picture scenes, a few go-to games, and some prizes.  While I have an office, in order to maximize student’s time in class I do my 5-minute sessions at a small table as out of the way as I can get in the hallway near the classes.

One concern I have is confidentiality and reducing distractions from other students in the hallway.  I try to schedule sessions at times with minimal hallway traffic and use a barrier.  Last year, I used a folder barrier, which afforded students some privacy, but not much.  I am currently working on finding an improved barrier.  I am contemplating using a beach umbrella on its side with a modified stand, a presentation board on some sort of stand to raise it higher, or, as my husband keeps advocating, the ever trusty decorated refrigerator box (yuck!).

A Sample 5-minute Session
I silently enter the first classroom and “tag” the first student by passing the student a wooden hall-pass.  When the student is seated they start a five minute timer and we get to work.  I use several different articulation apps on my iPad for much of the drill work and supplement with other books and cards as needed once they reach the conversational level.  I would estimate that on average each student achieves 50-100 correct productions of the phoneme per session depending on the context targeted.  When the timer goes off I quickly review the student’s progress for the day with the student and then they “tag” the next student.  Meanwhile, I write a quick progress note and set up for the next student.

The Fun Part:
I am currently reading the book “Drive” by Daniel H. Pink, which is making me do some serious rethinking how I use prizes and rewards.  Last year I rewarded hard work with a sticker, stamp, or quick activity. Mid-month I incorporated a fast-pace game and at the end of the month I gave them a small prize such as a tattoo, pencil, or small character eraser if they worked hard consistently.  Games I use included roll/pick/draw a number for number of responses, quick card games such as “war,” matching, selecting a wind-up toy to watch (a surprise favorite for second graders), tossing a bean bag, and a variety of file folder games.  Sometimes I would play a longer game such as Trouble or Sorry and let each student take one turn and see if the kids could beat me as a collective and report the winner at the next session.


We’ll see how things change as the year unfolds!

Thanks again Sara for your wonderful perspective! Check out my other post about the 5 Minute Kids program.

My 5 Minute Kids Therapy Plan

My Therapy Cart

My 5 Minute Kids Therapy Session

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