I don't know about you, but I love magic tricks, and a great way to get kids using their language is to have fun. I found a great book at Barnes and Noble this spring (and Amazon has it, too) called "The Magic Rabbit" (http://www.amazon.com/Magic-Rabbit-Annette-LeBlanc-Cate/dp/0763666858/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1379706433&sr=8-1&keywords=magic+rabbit), and decided that paired with some simple magic tricks, we could make speech magical!
This book has it all- beautiful black and white illustrations with a pop of yellow to highlight "magical" stars, an adorable rabbit, and great opportunities to ask your students cause and effect questions ("What caused the trick to go wrong?", "What caused the rabbit to get lost?", "What was the effect of the juggler crashing in to the magician?"), make inferences, and predict what will happen next in the story.
I get the kids in the mood for the story by first doing a quick magic trick that I relate to speech. I use the Magic Coloring Book I found at a local magic shop, but Amazon has the same one listed here:
Depending on where you flip through this book, students either see blank pages, pages with black and white drawings, or pages with full colored pictures. I tell them that when they first work on a speech goal, they are often unsure of where to start (and I flip the book to show the blank pages). As we work together, they begin to learn ways to accomplish the goal (I flip the book to show the black and white drawings), until they are able to do the goals well on their own (final flip shows them the colorful pictures). They love the trick, and I promise them I will show them how to do it after we read the book and they practice their speech goals! They are all ears when they hear that!
After the book, I also share two more tricks. Exploding Dice is super simple- just Google that or "Dice Bomb" to find on-line. Toy superstores and magic shops often have this in stock.
A giant black dice when shaken turns in to eight small white dice. I relate this to articulation: You don't start out knowing how to make a sound. You have to learn each step: where do you put your tongue? How tense is your tongue? You work on the sound by itself, then in syllables, words, phrases, and so on. There are lots of steps to accomplish the goal. I even let them take turns making this trick happen (great speech practice- especially if you have them use a magical word with their sound- "Alakazam" and "Abracadabra", anyone?).
The last trick is just a fun one using a product called "Slush Powder".
Pour a little slush powder in a styrofoam cup before your kids come to speech. Use another empty Styrofoam cup to show them the cup and then pour in water. Take a pencil and poke holes in the cup and have your students predict what will happen when the cup is poked ("Water will pour out"). Then ask them if they think a little magical speech phrase can keep water from coming out (They always say YESSS!). Take the cup with the slush powder and pour water in to it at your eye level where they see water go in but don't see it turn instantly to a solid. Have them say their magic words, and then poke the cup. Nothing spills out, and the kids get very excited. I let them touch the solid after I tell them the secret and it is a great way to tie in a little science terminology as well about states of matter. Win-Win! :-)
This activity is great for a beginning of the year activity. I also like to use the magic-themed game board from Kristine Lamb's Magically Predicting set available at Teachers Pay Teachers. You can even find magician hats at toy stores that kids could pull articulation cards from (or in to) to add more speech practice in to the session. So many fun ways to make speech magical!