Thinking vs. Saying Therapy Ideas

Today's topic of thinking vs. saying is one in which I have used for many years.  I can still remember a little guy verbalizing the definition on a video created for a board of education meeting highlighting some of the unique programs offered at our elementary.  He explained to the camera that sometimes there are thoughts you might have that are very different from what you might say.  Some thoughts are better kept in our thought bubble rather than enter our talking bubble.  Often times these thoughts might be perceived as rude or impulsive and they need to be filtered.  It seems to go back to the old saying, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

We all have thoughts.  Our thoughts combine with our feelings about a topic or discussion.  Imagine if everything you thought just spouted right out into words.  For some of my dear friends, that is exactly the case.  Many times it's their teachers or other adults nearby that give "the look" or hand out the consequence.  Rightfully so, some of the information that enters the talking bubble bypasses the social filter and creates a jaw dropping, odd looking moment.  Enter the need for thinking vs. saying explicit instruction {for the student and an explanation for the adults too}!

I'm working with an older elementary student currently that has been learning this strategy within the speech room.  Both his parent and teachers absolutely bought into it right away as the student shared the information with them {how awesome is that}!  His intervention specialist asked if I could provide a visual so she could refer to the thought bubble when an unexpected thought enters the talking bubble.  Wait a minute, could that be carryover?  {applause, applause, applause}

While I've always just drawn my thinking and talking bubbles on a dry erase board or sticky notes, with a little help from others, you can have a complete lesson and carryover materials!

Start here with great visuals for describing the thinking and talking bubbles.

Think it or Say it Worksheet {I adapted this with my own student.}

Then, click on the Dabbling Speechie's preview for a freebie activity to practice thinking vs. saying.

Another great idea from Speech Room News perfect for this holiday season when targeting thinking vs. saying.

Some of our students need explicit instruction on this topic with review, reinforcement, reminders, and follow up problem/perspective logs, thinking vs. saying is a topic many can use, social skill deficit or not!

Happy thoughts to you all and may everything that enters your talking bubble be positive!


  1. Great suggestions! I call it O.T.M. which stands for "On the mind, not out the mouth." A colleague of mine came up with that acronym in the early 90s, clearly ahead of her time! We paired it with a gesture so if we were supporting in class, we could "sign" it rather than drawing attention to the student.

  2. I LOVE it! I will definitely add that to my lessons! Did you have a specific gesture? That would be perfect!


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