I spy, dinosaur hunts, and apple picking, oh my! As pediatric therapists, we have been faced with the challenge of engaging children of varying ages and diagnoses over teletherapy. Children, families, and even therapists are still getting used to this virtual format. I want to walk through some ways I have utilized green screen technology for speech therapy during my time as a graduate student clinician at PlayWorks Therapy, Inc. I have found that using the green screen technology creates a fun and engaging way to target goals, while keeping our clients’ attentions for longer periods during our virtual telehealth sessions.
How do you use green screen technology?
Green screen technology is easily utilized over Zoom (PlayWorks’ medium of delivering teletherapy).
To set up the green screen: You need a green screen, or another brightly colored background. Mine is a plastic green tablecloth hung with command hooks. Next, log into zoom. Click the up arrow in the “stop video” button on the lower left corner of the zoom window and click “choose virtual background…”. Now, in your camera view, there is a small circle in the bottom right that has a color. Click that circle, then click your mouse on your background in the camera view. This tells Zoom what color to detect as your background, so it can transfer your given image to your green screen.
To transfer activities to Zoom backgrounds: Download/export your activity in a “.jpg” format to your computer. Follow the above directions to get to the virtual backgrounds settings. Then, click the plus sign (+) to upload the background images.
What goals can be targeted in green screen teletherapy?
I have targeted my clients’ speech and language goals using elements of the green screen. I have even used the same green screen activity for clients of varying ages and goals by modifying the way I use the activity, my language level, and my prompts. Using green screen activities is a great way to create a “theme” for each week. Being fall, my clients have enjoyed a variety of fall-themed activities from apple picking to exploring a spooky mansion for Halloween.
Articulation is easily targeted using these curated, story-like green screen activities. For example, for the apple picking activity, courtesy of “GoGo Speech”, I will have the client say their given target word 5 times, put the word in the sentence, and then we pick the apple together. You pick all the apples this way, but watch out for the worm who just might eat all our precious apples!
Language goals can be targeted as well, including expanding language to age-appropriate utterance lengths, spatial concepts, pronouns, wh- questions, and more. I have used “I Spy” to practice expanding a child’s phrase length. I have used “GoGo Speech” materials for spatial concepts, where the clients must tell me where they see the chipmunk during our picnic: “is it behind me? Is it on top of the rock? In the tree?” I have used a “fall hunt” activity, modeled off of the classic “we’re going on a bear hunt” story, to target wh- questions and expressive language. The opportunities are endless!
What are some go-to resources?
My go-to resources come from a private Facebook group, entitled “Green Screen Speech Therapy”. Speech-Language Pathologists post many resources that can be downloaded, personalized to meet your client’s speech and language goals, and then added to Zoom for use during a speech therapy session. This Facebook group also has an incredibly useful video explaining how to set up a green screen and how to use it. My other go-to has been “GoGo Speech”. If you subscribe to their services, they send activities for free (and videos on how to use them) to your email inbox.
Is green screen technology only useful for speech therapy?
Other disciplines can use green screen technology to keep their client engaged and target goals simultaneously, too! This means that physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, and developmental therapists can use green screen resources as well.
Do I have to have a green screen to use these resources?
No, you do not. You can download the resources in a PowerPoint format. Then, share your screen during your sessions to take advantage of the same resources without having a green screen.
Gwen Berglind, B.S.
Speech-Language Pathology Graduate Student Clinician
Credits: “GoGo Speech”, “Green Screen Speech Therapy” Facebook Group