Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How can I use that to target language? - Letter Tiles -

“How can I use THAT to target my student’s language goals?”

It’s a question I’ve thought to myself more than once going into the preschool rooms to do push-in therapy with my language students.  When I push in to the classrooms to provide therapy, I often times just follow the child’s/teacher’s lead and take whatever they are working on or playing with & figure out how to put a speech/language twist on it.  At this point, with it being my 4th year in preschool, I've become pretty good at making just about anything a language activity, but it definitely takes some creative thinking at times-- for instance, using letter tiles to target pronouns & spatial concepts!

The other day, I walked into a classroom at centers & the student I was going to work with was playing with letter tiles.  One of his language goals is for subject pronoun usage-- “he” “she” and “they.”  We started spelling out names of people who are important to him-- his brother, his mom, and his teacher.  I modeled sentences for him like, “HE starts with an A” or “SHE has ‘T.’  SHE has an ‘I’” etc… as we put each letter in the sequence.  After we were done with a couple different names, we compared.. “THEY both have an ‘A’”  “THEY start with different letters.”  After we were done, I heard his teacher modeling for him, too, emphasizing pronouns-- “Were you working with Miss Kari? SHE’S the best, isn’t she?” -- Double bonus! :)

You could also use the tiles to target spatial concepts..
-”Put the “A” on top of the “K””
-”Put the “C” next to the “D”
-”Put an ‘M’ above the ‘N’ etc...
-After putting a sequence of letters together, you could ask which letter is first/last in the row.

It’s an easy way to hit spatial concepts for your goal, while also working on letter recognition, which the ECSE teacher is likely working on, too!  If they are not at the level of letter recognition yet, you could step it down & do it by colors-- Put a blue letter under a green letter, etc… while still modeling the letter names afterwards.. “You’re right! the blue N is UNDER the green M”  

I know letter ID isn’t necessarily a goal we work on as SLPs, but my teachers try to work on language goals for me, so I try to model academic concepts for them, too!

WH questions is another potential area to target.  It depends on whether your student needs visual supports or not, but you could ask questions about what you just spelled with letter tiles-- ie, if you spelled “hat” you could ask “Where does a hat go?”   If you spell “sky” you could ask “What do you see up in the sky?” etc...

What other ways can you think of to use letter tiles to target language goals?

Monday, December 1, 2014

"What's In Your Cart?" Link-Up-- Tpt Cyber Monday Is Here!

Linking up with Speech Room News today for her "What's In Your Cart" link up! The TpT Cyber Monday sale is here & there are SO many great materials I've had my eye on-- it's hard to narrow it down! But, here are a couple of my new items I think you'll want to check out, as well as a handful of items that have found their way into my cart :)

Here's what I think you should take a look at from my store-- two new winter-themed interactive phonology units.  I have SO many phono kids on my caseload this year, so I need a lot of new materials to keep them engaged & motivated.

Up first is a Build A Snowman Phonology-- Your students will get to build a snowman by placing snowballs and snowflakes all around a large picture scene

The second new winter item in my store is Decorate the Tree Phonology-- your kids get to decorate a tree with silly lights and cute ornaments all while practicing their phonological targets!

Now, for the items in my cart from other sellers: 
1.  Positional Concepts with Sid the Kid from Maureen over at The Speech Bubble

2.  Winter Fun Pack from Mia at Putting Words In Your Mouth 

3.  AAC Starter Kit from Felice over at Thedabblingspeechie

4.  File Folder Songs for Basic Language from CC at Super Power Speech

What's in your cart that you're excited about? Be sure to click the link below the first image at the top to head over to Speech Room News to see what other SLP bloggers have in their carts! You'll probably find a lot of great items/sellers that you weren't aware of previously!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Turkey Talk- a Thanksgiving craftivity!

Need a quick, easy-prep activity to use for Thanksgiving? I've got you covered! I used this super cute craft with my articulation students this morning & it was a huge hit-- the kids were SO proud of their turkeys & were eager to show them off to everyone!

Trace a large circle onto brown construction paper (I used a paper plate as a template), as well as a small one (I used the inner circle of a paper plate that I cut out).  Use multiple pieces of paper at once to cut out multiple circles, noses, and legs ahead of time.  You'll have to wait on tracing the hands, obviously, until your students are with you, but you can cut out multiple hands at the same time, too, once they're traced, to save time!

You'll also need some construction paper in other colors (I used Fall colors) for the "feathers", orange triangles for the nose, and googly eyes.  Just glue the head and legs onto the body, and the feathers anywhere around the body you'd like! This one pictured was totally student-driven; he apparently had a VERY clear idea of where he wanted his feathers to go.. and it turned out so cute! I love it!

You could easily write speech words on the feathers (which I did on another one) or glue pictures of their words onto the feathers (think Jumbo Articulation Book pictures).  I'm sure all of you creative SLPs can think of other things to do with it, too-- how else would you use this fun craft?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Staying Positive

As SLPs, we have one of the BEST jobs in the world.  Seriously.  We help people communicate--what could be cooler than that?!  We teach vocabulary to children in school so they can access the curriculum and collaborate with their peers.  We give alternative methods to verbal communication by teaching a child with Autism how to use a communication device.  We help retrain a stroke patient's brain in order to learn how to speak again.  We teach correct articulation production so that a child can be understood by those around him.

We are making positive changes in our students'/patients' lives every single day.  Every. Single. Day.  However... it is really easy to get wrapped up in all the downsides of our job.. as a school-based therapist, maybe it's the 4 new students that just got added to your already-too-large caseload.. or the 7 annual IEPs that are due next week, or the meeting that got changed that no one told you about, or the 65 progress notes that need to be completed... or all of the above!! With so many demands placed on us, it's easy to get discouraged.  But, in spite of all that, we have one of the most amazing and rewarding jobs you could ask for.  I really, truly, believe that.  Those little breakthrough moments where your students/patients have those "aha!" moments are what makes all those not-so-great things about our job bearable.

Today, I decided to make myself reminders of why I do what I do to keep me going and keep me inspired on the days that are harder than others.  I started writing down all the positives I could think of that had happened with my students over the last week or two.

One of my little guys on the spectrum said my name for the very first time, and then wouldn't stop turning around, looking at me, saying my name, and giggling! :)  My little one with Down Syndrome used a few words spontaneously at center time with no modeling!

A couple kids I'm doing Cycles with got their L sound in isolation & in syllables.  Another one who's been working on the /f/ sound for forever said "four" and "five" with a BEAUTIFUL /f/ at the beginning, independently while he was counting!  Another one of my students who is suspected to be on the Spectrum came over to me at centers and made lots of eye contact showing me her toys, and kept touching me if I turned away, to get me to turn back and interact with her.  She didn't even acknowledge that I was right in front of her at the start of the school year.

My goal is to write down at least one positive thing that happens each day and place it in a box, so when I'm feeling stressed out & like a failure SLP (because let's face it, we ALL have those frustrating days where it feels like no one is making progress!), I can open the box, read through the positives, and remind myself of the big smiles those kids had on their face when I was so excited about their breakthrough moments.  And, to remind myself that the work I'm doing with my students is too important to be bogged down by all the other things.

Helping people is the reason we all got into this profession... And a daily reminder of that never hurts :)

What's something positive that happened to YOU today?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pumpkin Strips Craftivity

I love incorporating crafts into speech therapy sessions! I love crafting, period, but making a craft with articulation words is an easy way for parents to know what we were working on in speech that day (and hopefully do a little carryover practice at home, too!).

I saw a cute pumpkin craft on Pinterest from NurtureStore and decided to adapt it for therapy this week!

You can have the kids cut the strips out (could be a good activity if you cotreat with your OT!), or, utilize a paper cutter at school to have it prepped beforehand!

As we practiced the students' target words, I wrote 1 word per strip and then gave them the strip so they could draw a picture representation of their target words.   (I didn't attempt to draw pictures on my own example, but if I did, they'd probably look similar to my preschool students' drawings ;-))

If they were able to do some independent practice, I had them practice quietly to themselves while they were drawing.  Having them draw pictures let them be able to take some creative direction with this craft! (And, it kept them occupied in a group when it was the other student's turn! Win-win!)

When you have all the strips, you'll want to arrange them all face-down, in a snowflake-like arrangement (see examples here) and secure at both ends.  We used staples to hold the pieces together, but you could use either brads or maybe even glue to keep all the ends together if you preferred something else.

Easy peasy!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Basic Concepts: Dinosaurs, Apples, Pete the Cat, and Toy Story!

I'm pretty much living and breathing basic concepts (and phonology while we're at it!) this school year, so  I've been gathering lots of ideas and materials to teach concepts while still going along with each weekly theme in the preschool classrooms.  I always try to incorporate the weekly themes as much as possible into therapy, because I feel like it is much more meaningful and memorable to them when it involves the same topic they're being immersed in all week in the classroom!

Here are some fun things we've been doing as of late:

1.  Fronts/Backs and Tops/Bottoms: Dinosaur style!
What kids don't like dinosaurs?! I downloaded this *FREE* printable tot pack from 3dinosaurs for Dino week last week, and used the 2-part puzzle pieces on pages 10-15.  I cut them in half, put all the strips face down in a pile, and the kids took turns flipping over a strip, telling me whether they found the front, back, top, or bottom of a dinosaur.  As we found the counterparts, the kids matched up the dino halves in their piles and their peers' piles.  We talk about how when you see the feet, that's the clue that it's the bottom!

2.  Where in the world do these dinosaurs go? Dino Spatial Concepts!

I used this activity without a barrier because most of my kids still need a lot of support and assistance with spatial concepts. They were given directions like "Put the dinosaur next to the volcano" and "Put an egg under the volcano"...

You can increase the difficulty level by giving details (ie" find a SPOTTED egg" or "Put the dinosaur with the LONG neck...") and using more difficult concepts like above/below/beside/bottom corner, etc.. Find it for free HERE (Pack #3)

Doing something tangible (moving pieces around) keeps them engaged! I used this for my small group rotation lessons in the classroom because it allowed all the kids to be doing something at once, rather than sitting idly waiting for their turn. When you have 4-5 kids in a group and less than 10 minutes to work on a skill... having each student actively participating and learning is key!!

3. Dinosaur Stomp
-Check out my blog post from last year's dinosaur week to see my dinosaur gross motor activity. The basic concept cards I made mention of are no longer on TpT, but the kids had to find a particular dino card and then stomp it with their dino foot (ie "Stomp the dinosaur that's UNDER the chair"). You could do this with any basic concepts cards you have!

4. Playdoh Apples

We used this Apple picking scene from Speech Sprouts' "Apple, Apple, Where Can You Be?" packet. Give your kids a ball of red Playdoh and put the "apples" in various places (above the crow, in the tree, in the basket, on top of the girl's head, etc...)-- trust me, they will L-O-V-E it!!

Increase the difficulty level by making it an expressive task and have the kids take turns telling everyone in the group where to put the apples! The Playdoh aspect of this was what kept their little hands occupied and kept them engaged in what we were doing. Who doesn't love Playdoh?! (other than the maintenance staff who has to get all the playdoh slivers off the floor at night! They probably have nightmares...)

5. Pete the Cat: All Around The School Bus

This is another activity I used for my small group rotation in the classroom. We used this emergent reader book from Kinder Blossoms and read each page aloud, one at a time, without showing the picture at first.

Photo courtesy of Kinder Blossoms

Just like in the photo above from Kinder Blossoms, the kids then had to use their Pete & bus pictures to put Pete in the correct spot. After the kids all put their Pete in the given spatial location, we'd look at the page and see if we were correct! Again.. the kids were all moving their Pete the Cat at the same time, so they were all getting hands-on practice simultaneously throughout the activity. They LOVE Pete the Cat!

This activity also worked for concepts front/middle/back of the bus, based on the animals in the windows, on each page.

One of my coworkers also thought it'd be funny to put my picture in a book.. so she found my TpT profile picture and glued it onto the pages for my very own book.. ha. I have to admit, I laughed pretty hard when I saw it on my desk!

6. To infinity... and beyond!

Ok, remember when I said I try to stick to the weekly themes as much as possible? Well... sometimes I stray to get some extra motivation! I picked up this Toy Story book with a mat & figurines at a yard sale for $3 with two little boys in particular in mind!

I gave them a figurine and tell them to place the characters in different spots (ie "Put Woody in the box" "Put Buzz next to the bed" etc... VERY hands-on and interactive! If your students are obsessed with Disney Princesses or Superheros, or anything of the sort (like all of mine are!), you can find little toys like these all the time at yard sales & thrift stores for cheap. Collect a bunch, and then have them put figurines in different places around the room if you don't have a picture scene to use!

What are some of your favorite activities for basic concepts?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Back to School Week! If You Take A Mouse to School

It’s that time of year again.. Back to School! Last week was the first full week with kids, so I began seeing my caseload & working out all the kinks in the scheduling (you know, a school-based therapist’s favorite thing to do!!)

For the first week, I used the book, “If You Take A Mouse To School” by Laura Numeroff to base my therapy sessions around.

I had a big book, too, which made it even more fun!

Building A Mouse House:
At one point in the story, the mouse builds a “Mouse House” out of building blocks.  I adapted this, and used my Jenga blocks as the building blocks.  

My artic kids got to roll a die and the number they landed on was the number of productions they had to give me and the number of Jenga pieces they could pick out to build their Mouse House. You could also work on following directions by giving them instructions on how to build their mouse house!

Roll & Cover/Stamp:

I also made these diy cover-all/stamper pages to go along with the book.  Easy as a general reinforcer activity for a variety of goals! See below for the link to download for free!

Lunch Box Craftivity:

You can use whatever arts/crafts supplies you have on hand.  I happened to have dino stickers I picked up on clearance at Michaels a while back, so it kind of matched the lunch box in the book.  

You can download the lunchbox page along with the roll & cover pages for FREE right HERE

Cariboo for vocabulary:

I am L-O-V-I-N-G that I took the time this summer to make Cariboo card sets for all of my themes throughout the year.  It's making life easier already! My school supply cards were perfect to incorporate with this book.  I can adapt Cariboo for a lot of different things, but I use it mostly for vocabulary and answering questions.  

You can find the Cariboo cards HERE & read about how I use the game HERE. Jenna at Speech Room News also has a post with a great idea on how she organized these cards-- you can read that HERE

Mouse Speak: Articulation

Last Spring, I made a universal articulation companion pack to go along with all the "If You Give A Mouse/If You Take A Mouse" books. It features all of the earlier-developing sounds in all positions of words & can be used with any of the Laura Numeroff "Mouse" books (or any other cute Mouse book, such as "Mouse Paint"). Sounds /p, b, m, n, w, h, t, d, y, k, g, f/ are included.
We had run out of lamination at school, so I didn't get a chance to prep them in the Spring, and forgot they never got prepped until I went to look for them on that Monday morning-- whoops! But I definitely plan to have them ready before I use "If You Take A Mouse to the Movies" this winter! If you want to check them out, you can do so HERE.

What do you do for the first week of school?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Cariboo Cards- How I use them, How I store them, and a compilation of cards with a free download!

The school-based SLP Facebook group has been all abuzz lately with therapists finding Cariboo left and right at thrift stores and yard sales, and wondering how others use the game for therapy purposes.
I've been using Cariboo since I first started at my job a few years ago. I work with preschool kids, but elementary kids love this game, too! There's just something about the suspense of whether a ball lies underneath the door being opened, and that final reward of the treasure box popping open!

 The game is frequently requested and highly motivating, so I use it all the time. I have Cariboo cards to go along with each theme I use in therapy, and wanted to make them available to you, too!

My latest TpT creation is a compilation of of 28 themed sets of Cariboo cards, for a total of 450 cards to use with your Cariboo game!! You'll be set on Cariboo cards for the whole year!

It includes a set of each of the following themes: 
Getting To Know You, Back to School/School Supplies, Sports, Brown Bear Brown Bear, Farm, Fall, Fire Safety, Halloween, Dinosaurs, Winter, Christmas, Arctic Animals, Polar Bear Polar Bear, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Spring, Insects/Bugs, Circus, Summer/Beach. Ocean Animals, Transportation, Jungle/Zoo, and THREE sets of cards for Community Helpers (45 cards in all for Community Helpers! includes community helpers, their vehicles, and their tools/items associated with them)

Each themed set has a different color border, making it easy to differentiate which cards belong with each other.


FREE DOWNLOAD: Check out the Cariboo cards and see if it's something you may like. While you're there, download the preview for a Getting To Know You FREEBIE set of Cariboo cards to use during the first week of school, or anytime you get a new student!!

In addition to SLPs all over the country finding Cariboo, another topic as of late in some of the Facebook groups is "How the heck does everyone store all their TpT materials?!"  Well, let me show you how I store all of my Cariboo cards!


I keep a binder that stores all of my cards.  I hole-punched cardstock and put Velcro on both the Cardstock and the laminated Cariboo cards.  I keep all the cards for a theme on the same page.  I like the binder method because I can put the pages in the order of my themes for the year, and it's easily accessible from either a desk drawer or a bookshelf.

I also keep Velcro on my actual game.  For me, it just makes it easier to swap pictures in and out quickly, because I don't have to slide them in just right-- I just slap them on and go (because let's be honest, I'm pretty much *always* in a hurry!)  This way, I also don't have to worry about the pictures sliding off, either.

So, I have all the cards, and I have a way of organizing and storing the cards.. Now what? How do I USE all those cards?  Of course, everyone's caseloads are comprised of different needs, but here's a few ways I use Cariboo:

 *Listening for Details/Basic Inferences: I describe a picture on one of the boxes, and they guess which one I'm talking about-- When they find the correct one, they open the box to see if a ball is underneath.

 *WH Questions: This ties in to the basic inferences-- after they name the item, often times, I'll ask them a question about it to get in some extra practice with WH questions-- something almost all my students need! I like to use Cariboo to work on story comprehension questions, as well. I'll have pictures of items or characters from the story and they use those pictures to help answer my questions about the story.  Cariboo makes it SO easy to incorporate those much-needed visuals for my students!

 *Describing: I have worked on some early, simple describing with some of the older preschool students (going to kindergarten) in mixed groups with peer models within the classroom. One of the students describes a picture to their peers, and the peer whose turn it is has to find the correct picture and then open that box.

*Concepts:  I've made a couple Cariboo sets depicting basic concepts (ie find the snowman with a tall hat, find the boy standing in front of the tree, behind the tree, etc..), but you could also work on top/middle/bottom with any pictures.  For example, if you had the dinosaur set on there, you could "Pick a dinosaur in the top row" or talk about what's on top vs under the door-- Are the pictures on top of the door or under the door? Are the balls hiding on top of the door or under/below the door?  Was there a ball under there or was it empty?

 *Vocabulary: As I said earlier in the post, I swap out pictures almost every week to go along with our theme. Cariboo makes it super easy to work on picture naming skills (which, again, many of my students struggle with!) and to do rechecks of themed vocabulary words.

If I were to be told I could only use ONE therapy tool for the rest of my career, it would be Cariboo.  The kids never get tired of it, and as you can see, I can target a variety of different goals with just this one game!  Do you use Cariboo in any ways I haven't listed here? Tell me your ideas!

UPDATE: An expansion pack has now been created to target additional vocabulary, including pronouns and verbs

A phonology set to target phonological processing errors has been created, as well!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Happy Campers! Camping-themed ideas for therapy

Confession: I love s'mores. Like, really love them. I used to make indoor s'mores in the microwave as a kid all the time! I'd stick a marshmallow in there and watch it expand like crazy as it heated up, juuust to the brink of explosion, before quickly opening the microwave door and watching it shrink back to a normal size. Quite honestly, I'm surprised I never blew one up in the microwave! (You're welcome for that, mom)

Anyway, I thought a camping theme would be a great way to incorporate the fun of summertime s'mores into the speech room during ESY (extended school year, aka summer school).

Since we couldn't use a real campfire (or a microwave, for that matter), we made these indoor s'mores from Pre-K Pages (it's a great, very simple 3-step visual to use with younger kids and students who are just beginning to learn the concept of sequencing) using graham crackers, chocolate spread, and marshmallow fluff. I used this activity to work on concepts and sequencing (top, middle, bottom, first, last).

We also read the book, Curious George Goes Camping (yard sale find for 25 cents! hey-o! But you can purchase here on Amazon for $2.50 if you don't have it!) We answered questions about the story as we went along, and I discussed camping-related vocabulary with the little ones (tents, flashlights, sleeping bags, logs, etc...), as well! I printed out some pictures of camping vocabulary words and we played Memory with them to reinforce the words. You can find some free printables here at Homeschool Creations

To get the kids moving, I taped up some articulation cards around the room. They had to use their camping binoculars while walking around the room to spot a target word (you could play "I Spy" with this activity, too, and work on describing!). This was everyone's favorite!


The last thing we did was make these little campfire crafts for artic words and for categories. Jenn's sand castle craft was the inspiration for the fire one on the right! (although it's not complete-- I forgot to take a picture after day 2 when the student finished it with more "flames.") My love of s'mores was the inspiration for the marshmallow categories on the left :) Each stick represented a category and they had to name items in that category to get marshmallows to "roast" in their fire.

Do you do a camping unit in your therapy sessions? What are some of your favorite things to do with your camping theme? This was the first year that I implemented camping, so I haven't built up my materials & ideas as much as other thematic units.  Share your faves-- I would love to hear them!!

And, if you love s'mores, check out this link to "39 S'mores Hacks That Will Change Your Life" ... You're welcome.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Yard Sale Speech Goodies: Linking up with Speech Room News

*Cue "Fancy" song*

I'm so thrifty
You already know
I'm at the yard sales
Every Friday and Saturday

I'm back! It's been 2 months since I've blogged... TWO MONTHS! Yikes.  You know that song by Scorpions, "Rock You Like a Hurricane?"  Well, if you don't, the refrain goes, "Here I am.. Rock you like a hurricane!" -- That's what the end of the school year said to me-- Here I am & I'm going to rock you like a hurricane! I was in a swirling vortex of never-ending paperwork and IEP meetings... It was all I could do to make it out alive, with 11 meetings just during the last week alone! I'm sure everyone who works in a school setting feels my pain.

Once the school year ended, I started working ESY for my district and got caught up in lots of house projects, prepping for our housewarming party, and then planning a vacation to Denver-- I've been busy busy!

In the midst of all that, though, I've been doing *lots* of yard sale-ing this summer! My in-laws are yard sale pros and have gotten me hooked.  I'm linking up with Speech Room News today to show you some of my favorite thrifty yard sale finds!

Up first... Books!
These are just a handful of my favorite books I've picked up (or that my mother in law has picked up for me!) while yard sale-ing.  None of these cost me more than 50 cents a piece.

Up second... Potato Heads!
Working with the littles in preschool, Potato Heads are a must-have! I can work on body parts/items you wear vocabulary, requesting, combining words into short phrases, colors, concepts (top/bottom, big/little, etc..).  I paid $4 total, I think, for all of these potato head pieces!

Lastly... My Honey Bee Tree game and my bowling set.

Every game I've bought for therapy has been from Goodwill or a yard sale.  These are a couple of my most recent finds! I think these were only $1 a piece.  The Honey Bee Tree game is just like Kerplunk (one of my all-time favorites as a kid, myself!), but with "leaves" and bees instead of sticks and marbles.  My kids love it!  I bring out the bowling pins when it's a day I can see we need to be a little more active! I'll usually stick their artic cards underneath the pins.  I've also used it to work on basic concepts-- who knocked over more pins/fewer pins, or if I set them up in two rows, we can work on how many pins in the front row vs back row were knocked over.

I love bargain shopping!! Head on over to Speech Room News to read about her favorite thrifty finds, along with some other bloggers' favorite finds, too.

PS- I've gotten quite a bit of new-to-me things for my new house while yard sale-ing, too! (So much so that it's really hard for me to pay retail prices on anything anymore!)-- I'll be doing another post on those soon if you're interested in reading about some non-speech thrifty finds, as well :)
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