using Whoosh! in speech therapy

Frequent Speech Sounds:

/l/ initial


Black History Month

Book Details:

Diverse Characters: Yes
Age Recommendation: Elementary, Late Elementary, Middle School


By Chris Barton

Celebrate the inventor of the Super Soaker in this inspiring picture book biography about Lonnie Johnson, the maker behind one of the world's favorite toys. You know the Super Soaker. It’s one of top twenty toys of all time. And it was invented entirely by accident. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, impressive inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy. A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity began early in Lonnie Johnson’s life. Growing up in a house full of brothers and sisters, persistence and a passion for problem solving became the cornerstone for a career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is his invention of the Super Soaker water gun that has made his most memorable splash with kids and adults.

This inventive Black History Month and summer-themed book can be used in speech therapy to address social/emotional issues like perseverance and self-confidence. It is also great for illustration study and for targeting character analysis as well as for inferencing and the /l/ initial sound! Discover more of the speech and language teaching concepts for using Whoosh! in speech therapy below: 

Key Teaching concepts

Narrative Structure:

complete episode
expository text

Narrative Concepts:

character analysis
figurative language
text features
verbs (action)
complex sentence structure
illustration study


order of events that led to Lonnie’s invention of the Super Soaker


workshop, bamboo shooter, erector set, spare, hauled, inventions, scratch, engineer, inspired, compressed-air cylinders, valves, jukebox, tape recorder, reel, transmitter, commands, orbiter, probe, prototype

Character Analysis:

Lonnie kept believing in himself even when the cards were stacked against him.


believing in yourself
treatment of blacks vs. whites

Figurative Language:



verbs (action)
complex sentence structure

Text Features:

change in font
change in text color
moving text
exclamation marks


How do you think Lonnie felt living with no room for a workshop?
What did the other kids think about Lonnie’s inventions?
How do you think Lonnie’s mom felt about Lonnie and his inventions?
How do you think he felt when he got the results of the test?
How did the African Americans feel about Lonnie’s robot winning first place vs. the white attendees?
What did it mean if the competition was a challenge with a capital C?
Why do you think Lonnie stood out as a self-confident, insightful, creative thinker at Tuskegee Institute?
What was Lonnie thinking when he saw the water come out of the pump?
Why do you think the toy companies said no to his idea?
How do you think Lonnie felt when his plans didn’t work?
How do you think Lonnie felt about himself for not giving up?


What do you think he will make with all of those supplies?
What do you think Lonnie will do after he gets the test results?
What do you think Lonnie did after graduation?
What do you think will happen when he goes to Philadelphia?
What other ideas do you think he had?