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August 30, 2012 / the speech monster

Colorful (Colourful) semantics


I’ve been using Colorful Semantics quite a bit in therapy and want to share it with people who haven’t used it or don’t know about it. This program was devised by a Speech and Language Therapist from the UK, and it is free. There has also been some research done on its efficacy (Search Google Scholar “Colorful Semantics”). One of them by Susan Ebbels is available here.

What it is: 

A program that color codes different parts of speech in a sentence (The Noun/Subject – Who; The Verb – What is doing; The Object – What; The prepositional phrase – Where, etc.). In doing so, children are taught to create sentences first by sorting out colors. By doing that, they learn that there are these different parts that make up the sentence.

You can start from ground zero, which entails going through every color and elaborating on it. E.g., “Who” (Orange) – talk about the answers that can go under the “Who” category. Or, for higher functioning kids, move quickly through the colors and start creating sentences.


It’s colorful and kids we work with, who are mostly visual learners, grasp on to the concept relatively quickly. Even the ones who are severely delayed/disordered in language learn to sort colors and follow the “rules” of simple sentences. Of course, we don’t always speak using just one sentence structure, but if these kids who are severely disordered can learn to correctly produce a few simple sentence structures, I take that as a victory!

The kids I’ve used this with also very quickly learn the grammar of sentences.

There is also a program called Alien Talk that has its roots in this program. Created by a Speechie in Australia, Alien Talk takes Colorful Semantics to a crazier level by tagging different parts of speech to different colored aliens. There are also more colors introduced such as the brown alien, which asks “Why?”. I use this program as well, and the kids LOVE the aliens. Retailing at about $95 bucks, it also comes with a ton of pictures and worksheets to use in therapy.

This program can also be adapted for writing tasks, although I have only used it for expressive language therapy.


Kids might be restricted to producing only a limited type of sentence structure. Other than that, can’t think of any dislikes at the moment!

There are a few websites/SLPs who have added on more resources/picture cards to the Colorful Semantics program, be sure to check them out if interested. Chris Wade, a Speech and Language Therapist (SALT) in the UK has also added extra, free resources to the program. Click here for more. (Thanks, Chris!!)

Have you used this program? What are your thoughts? 



Leave a Comment
  1. LG / Aug 30 2012 6:23 pm

    Very much like Fokes Sentence Builder!

    • the speech monster / Aug 30 2012 11:25 pm

      Ah, I just looked up the Fokes Sentence Builder and, yes, it’s very much like it! The only difference seems to be the colors used to code the sentence parts. From my minimal research, the Fokes Sentence Builder looks like it’s been around for awhile now. For those interested in checking out this resource it’s available for purchase here (for USD$20).

      Thanks for your comment!

      • Sharon / Oct 5 2012 4:45 am

        Hi! I have been trying to get my hands on an old Fokes Sentence Builder kit, with no luck. Colorful Semantics sounds very much like it! Is it also a kit? How can I order one, and how much does it cost? Thanks so much!

      • the speech monster / Oct 5 2012 8:10 pm

        Hi Sharon, the program/concept is very similar to the Fokes Sentence Builder. So far all the Colorful Semantics picture sets I’ve seen online are free. There is a program that uses the concept of Colorful Semantics, called Alien Talk, that costs about AUD$80.

        I recommend you read the rest of my post as I’ve included links to the Colorful Semantics free freebies online!

        There has been another recent SLP post on this topic that you might like to check out:

        Good luck.

  2. Sharon / Oct 25 2012 12:41 am

    Thanks so much for this information! I will definitely check out these leads! I’m an “old-timer” and used the Fokes way back in the 80’s with great success…and the best part is…the kids loved it!!! Looking forward to finding something similar!!!

  3. Moo's Pantry / Feb 19 2013 2:50 pm

    I use Colourful Semantics all the time in my class of SLI children – we make all of our own colour coded cards, depending on the story/topic we are reading/doing. I can email resources I have made if this helps anybody?

    • the speech monster / Feb 20 2013 10:35 am

      hi there. thanks so much for offering to email resources! that would be totally lovely. would you like to send me at yemartians at yahoo dot com ? i can upload them here if you like to share with others and definitely attribute it to you! (and i’d like a copy for myself, too!!)

    • Estelle Torok / Oct 23 2013 5:51 pm

      I would love to have your resourses for Colourful Semantics!!

      Thank You

    • Kymm Nesheim / Jan 12 2014 2:29 am

      I would love this resource! Please email me at:
      Thank you!

    • Sarah Shamsi / Apr 2 2014 8:21 pm

      I am an SLT myself, and I would love to have the resources 🙂
      Thank you

  4. chriswade332767315Chris / Mar 2 2013 9:51 pm

    Our Colourful Semantics app is due to be released on the 16th March – would you like to review it for us?? Chris @

    Ps since the 30th Jan your website has referred 268 people to our free Colourful Semantics pack 🙂

    • the speech monster / Mar 4 2013 10:40 am

      hello! sorry for the delayed response – yes, i’d be sooo honored to do that! that sounds like an awesome app. in fact, i was wondering *when* someone was going to make one!! 🙂

      • chriswade332767315 / Mar 4 2013 10:46 am

        Fab! I’ll send you a code once its ready 🙂

      • the speech monster / Mar 4 2013 10:56 am

        Great! Really looking forward to it! DM me on Twitter? @originalcherbie

    • Shelley Watson / Mar 7 2013 9:26 pm

      If you are looking for any other reviewers for the Colorful Semantics App, I would LOVE to do it. I’ve been waiting for this app!

    • the speech monster / Mar 4 2013 10:56 am

      Thanks, I’ll change the URL soon!

  5. chriswade332767315 / Mar 24 2013 2:38 pm

    Hi all, our fully-customisable app is now available in the App Store!

    • the speech monster / Mar 26 2013 12:18 am

      Yay! Totally eggcited.

  6. Sarah Shamsi / Apr 2 2014 8:24 pm

    I have added a few more verbs: brushing teeth, swimming, kicking, blowing bubbles, waving, pulling, throwing, crying, singing, swinging, talking.. If anyone needs them.. Let me know your email address..
    I added them for my own personal use (according to my patients needs) but yes they are similarly color coded

  7. Barbara / May 25 2014 11:02 pm

    How can I get the free colour semantics download, I have followed all the links and they take me no where. I am in the U.S. and cannot buy the app 😦

    • the speech monster / May 26 2014 5:13 am

      hi there! you can try the following:

      i think the londonspeechtherapy website which hosts some other free things is down at the moment (i’ve just tried myself). i’ll try to contact them to ask what’s up!

      • chriswade332767315 / May 26 2014 5:36 am
      • the speech monster / May 27 2014 7:13 am

        Hi Chris thanks so much for the reply!!

      • Kymm Nesheim / May 27 2014 8:00 pm

        Can you see the messages that I am receiving? Since I signed up, they all come across like this and it won’t let me unsubscribe. 😦 I’d love to figure out how to actually read them, though! Thanks, Kymm Nesheim

      • the speech monster / May 28 2014 2:08 am

        Hi there, I’m not sure what messages and subscription you’re referring to.

        Re: Colorful Semantics resources on the new website that Chris posted, I tried and don’t seem to be able to work it. Just sent a message to Chris to feedback. In the meantime, do check out the other website I linked in my earlier reply as I’m sure that one is working and also contains useful Colorful Semantics resources. Best of luck!

  8. Sharon / Jan 5 2015 6:15 pm

    Hi would love more info and resources if available please I’m a TA working one to one with a child. Thanks Sharon Pawley xxx

  9. SLTStudent / Mar 17 2015 8:38 pm

    Hi, I’m having difficulty getting access to the free printable resource- none of the links work. Is this program still available on a paper copy does anyone know? If so where can I find it? or do I have to create all of the ‘who’ etc cards myself?

  10. Sandi G / May 9 2015 7:40 am

    I too would love a copy of the free printable resources but can’t seem to get any of the links to work 😦


  1. Colorful Semantics II « The Speechie Speaks
  2. App review: Colourful Semantics | The Speechie Speaks

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