Photo illustrated by: Howard McWilliam, book written by Jodi Moore, published by Flashlight Press.

We know children thrive when they are given freedom to create their own made up worlds and ideas. With imagination and creativity, anything is possible! With imagination and creativity, a cardboard box can become a car, a bedsheet can become a secret fort, and a paper plate can become a dragon! One of my favorite books, When a Dragon Moves In, explores one boy’s imaginary world in which he befriends a dragon. I love to use this book in speech and language therapy, and pair it with an exciting craft in which children create their own dragon friends. Below, I’ve outlined the ways in which therapists may target speech and language and occupational therapy goals while encouraging children to use their imaginations by reading the story and completing the craft.


Online Story:

When a Dragon Moves In:


Examples of speech and language goals targeted:

  • Story retell: use a graphic organizer to identify the characters, setting, and events in the plot.
  • Answering wh- questions: target story comprehension by asking wh-questions such as “who built a sandcastle?”
  • Identifying emotions based on verbal and nonverbal cues: pause the story to talk about the character’s facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice to infer how the character is feeling!


Paper Plate Dragon Craft:

What you’ll need:

  • Paper plate
  • Scissors
  • Stapler
  • Paint, markers, crayons, or colored pencils


Instructions and examples:


Examples of how to use this craft to target speech and language and occupational therapy goals:

  • Following directions: crafts are a great way to be flexible with goals addressing following single or multi-step directions. We are able to adapt the directions to make them more or less complex by changing the number of steps in the direction or adding modifiers.
    • Examples of a 1-step direction: Fold the plate.
    • Examples of a 2-step direction: Draw the tail and cut it out.
    • Examples of a 2-step direction with modifiers: First cut out the tail then staple it to the front.
  • Bilateral coordination: holding the pieces with one hand while stapling with the other.
  • Visual motor: following a line to cut, lining up the shapes, and drawing.
  • Executive functioning: following the directions, sequencing the steps, and monitoring performance as you go.
  • Pressure modulation: knowing how hard to do something.
  • Fine motor manipulation skills: using utensils (scissors and pencils, pens, paints, etc.) to cut, fold, staple, and color.
  • Story generation: encourage the child to use their imagination to create their own story about a dragon; you can use the same graphic organizer you used for story retell to help the child organize and tell their own narrative!


With imagination and creativity, the possibilities for targeting speech and language and occupational therapy goals through books, crafts, games, and more are endless! These are just some of the examples of targets to think about while reading stories and completing crafts. Additionally, giving children opportunities to use their imaginations will enhance their experience learning and growing!

Written By: Asha Fredrick, MS, CF-SLP