SLP Circle Time: Room on the Broom

So many times, I’ve seen questions in Facebook groups about how to do circle time/whole class language groups as an SLP in the preschool setting.  Room on the Broom is one of my favorite Halloween books, and with lots of different characters/elements, all of the kids in the class can have their own prop to participate, making it perfect for whole group language lessons!

I’ll walk you through exactly how I run it and all the goals you can hit, below:

Props to collect or print:
-Characters: witch, cat, dog, frog, bird
-Objects: broom, witch hat, bow, wand, pine cone (I legit dug through my Christmas decoration tub in my basement storage room to get one- #dedication), a bone, flower, stick, and a bucket for your “cauldron.” I found my black jack-o-lantern bucket at Target for $1, and the witch hat was only $3!

I used a printable witch on a popsicle stick, and plush beanie baby toys for the animals (Looks like my 90s kid obsession paid off, after all… for circle time.  Totally worth the small fortune my parents spent, right?). 

I used a paint stirrer for the stick, a dog bone toy from a Pet Vet set (but you can find a cheap dog bone chew toy at Target for $1-$2), a princess wand from the Target $1 spot a few years ago, a fake flower (you can find these at any craft store or the Dollar Tree), and a pine cone from my Christmas decor! 

My broom was made out of brown construction paper taped together (::cue Iggy Azalea, “Fancy” ::(jk, I actually really hate that song)).  You can also search for clip art images for each of these items if you don’t have objects available!

Give each of the kids a prop to hold ahead of time- this method went MUCH more smoothly than trying to give out props as we read the story.  Learn from my mistakes.

The max number of kids I have in a class is 8, so 7 students held an animal or an object that the witch lost, and 1 student held the bucket/cauldron.  There are enough unique characters/objects for up to 13 kids, though, if you hand out the witch, the 4 animals, the 3 lost items, the bucket/cauldron, and the 4 items that go in the cauldron.

Actions: I always, always, always try to incorporate actions into our circle time.  One- it’s just good to be moving and keep their attention, and two- some of my kids on the spectrum have motor imitation goals!

In Room on the Broom, we do actions for…
-the part where the witch “looks around, but no (bow, wand, hat) could be found”: we put our hands above our eyes like we’re looking out, searching for the item

-tapping the broomstick

-“whoosh” they were gone

-stirring the cauldron

-flying through the air

Receptive ID: 
Give your kiddo a field of two choices, ask them to find a specific one, and that’s the prop they get to hold.

Following Directions/Social Skills:

I put the broom in front of me while I read the story, with my popsicle witch laying on it.  When we got to the parts of the story where an animal found a missing item, whoever was holding the animal had to bring the missing item to the witch on the broom. 

For example…
Me: “Who has the dog?”
Student: “I do!”
Me: “Find the hat and bring it to the witch”
…And they would then go to whoever was holding the hat to get it and bring it over. 

(The frog finds the wand and brings it to the witch.  The bird finds the bow and brings it over)

We also work on “put in” directions with the items that go in the cauldron.  When all the items are in, everyone gets to stir it up.  When their turn is done, they have to either pass it on down the line, or choose a specific friend and tell them it’s their turn.  Sharing is an important preschool skill! 🙂

Asking Questions + Core Vocabulary:
If you have kids in your group who are working on ASKING questions, make sure they are holding an animal, so they can come to the witch and say, “Is there room for me?” or “Can I get on?”

If you are modeling AAC with….
LAMP: model..
-“I get on?”
“Down!” (for each time it gets to the, “Down! Cried the witch” part)
“Go” (each time for “whoosh, they were gone”)
“In” when putting items in the cauldron

ProLoQuo: from the home screen, model, “I come?” or “I get on?”  or, in the “places” folder, you can model, “Can I come?”  Also model “go” for each time they fly away

You can also program, “Is there room for me?” or “Down!” onto a Big Mack switch, too.

-Work on pronoun “she” with the sentences,
“She dropped a…” or “She said ‘yes'” (to each of the animals when they asked to join)

Answering “yes”:
-I have some kiddos working on answering yes/no without echoing back part of the question.  I’ll ask them, “What did the witch say?” after the animals ask their question, and I give them the visual model of the ASL sign for “yes” right away to get them to say ‘yes’ instead of echoing.

This was more during individual therapy using this book, but I have one kiddo working on /w/ and /m/ sounds, so we worked on…
M: room, broom, me
W: Wet, witch, wand, whoosh, wind

This is one of my all-time favorite Halloween books, so I hope this gives you some ideas of how to use it for a whole group circle time lesson! Let me know you’ll be using this book this Halloween!

Monsters Love School Halloween Activities

Halloween is my fave when it comes to therapy activities.  So many fun books, and “Monsters Love School” by Mike Austin is no exception! I discovered it over the summer, and love how these monsters can be paired with “Back to School” themed activities AND Halloween themes!

(Please note: Some of the links below are Amazon affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I get commissions for purchases made through those links in this post)

I know this time of year gets crazy, so these book-themed activities are a BREEZE when it comes to prepping!
First up.. the book itself:
An inside look at a monster’s day at school- how can anyone resist?! The little monsters have a school supply checklist for their backpacks (object functions, anyone?), and they experience different activities like art class where they make hats and masks. 

Why, thanks, Mike Austin, for basically planning my therapy for me.  Genius, I tell you. (More on the costume part later!)

The monsters also swing, read books, eat lunch, write, walk, and sing… so you can work on some simple action verbs and pronouns, too!

Click here to check out the book!
Play dough Monsters

I love this activity for following directions and basic concepts/prepositions.  All you need is play dough, some pipe cleaners, googly eyes, and beads (or fruit loops.. or anything else you could slide onto pipe cleaners!) I’ve also used small pieces of cut straws, too.

Some examples of how to target concepts and following directions:
“Put 2 beads on the tall pipe cleaner” 
“Get 1 big eye and 2 little eyes”
“Put 2 beads under the eyes”

OR, use them for articulation/phonology/apraxia therapy, and get an eye or a bead for each sound or word production!

Sensory Bin

Make a monster theme sensory bin! Toss some googly eyes into a bin of black beans, stick in some stimulus cards, and you’re good to go! I used school supply Cariboo cards (part of my year-round vocabulary set) to work on object functions.  Click here to find them in my TPT store.

Make a paper plate monster! Print off any stimulus cards on colored printer paper (I used my school supply Cariboo cards again), and glue them onto a paper plate, along with a giant eyeball and a mouth. Voila- their very own monster!

I do crafts like this with speech sound Cariboo cards, too, so that the kids have something to take home to show what sounds/words we’ve been working on!

Another craft activity you could do is make a mask, just like the monsters made in art class! Perfect activity for Halloween!

You can work on following directions and basic concepts with this activity with different art materials like construction paper shapes, stickers, dot markers, sequins, etc… Or, just use it as a reinforcer activity to keep your kids’ hands busy while waiting their turn in a group!

If you have an iPad, take pictures of the students wearing their masks.  Show them the photos, and see if they can guess WHO it is in the group that’s wearing that mask.  I did this as a whole group activity for Little Blue Truck’s Halloween, and the kids had fun guessing which classmate was under the mask! (And it was great for working on simple “who” questions!)

Which one of these activities is your favorite? Be sure to let me know if you’re using any of these!

Preschool Circle Time Language Groups: PUMPKINS

Fall is in full swing, and with trips to the pumpkin patch likely on the horizon for many of our preschool kiddos!  I’ve seen questions come up often enough in the Facebook groups about whole group circle time language lessons in the preschool setting, so I wanted to start a series of posts to share fun and easy ideas in this area based on common preschool themes.  First up… pumpkins!

Materials needed:
-Book (“Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin”)
-Die cut pumpkins with 1, 2, or 3 step directions written on them OR
-Printable pumpkin pages with directions on them (see further down for the link to download)

-Yes/No questions
-Where questions
-Following directions
-Social interaction

Book: Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin

I love this book because it’s short enough and simple enough for those groups of kids that have realllly short attention spans, and you can target yes/no questions and “where” questions throughout the book.

“Where is Goose?”
“Is the pumpkin in the apple tree?”

Follow-up Activity: Following Directions Pumpkin Patch

Note: While you are reading the book, have the classroom teacher or a para hide the paper pumpkins around the room in places the kids can easily see and access.  After reading the book, tell your kids that they’re going to all take turns to go to the “pumpkin patch” to find a pumpkin, just like Duck and Goose!

Activity targets: “where” questions, prepositions, following directions

Have your students one by one go find a pumpkin and bring it back to the circle. Ask them where they found it (under the table, on the chair, next to the bookshelf, on the table, on the floor, etc…) to target “where” questions and prepositions.

Next, read the directions and have them follow the two-step direction (or, modify as needed and give only one of the directions) on the pumpkin.  Afterwards, that student picks a peer, says their name, and tells them it’s their turn.  If you have nonverbal kids, give them pictures of two peers to choose from.  If that child is mobile, help them give the photo to the peer they chose.  Go around until everyone has had a turn to “drive” to the pumpkin patch and get a pumpkin.

The other day, I heard one of the preschool teachers I work with use a song in her classroom that is perfect for this activity! The kids pretend they’re driving a tractor while you sing this song:

(to the tune of “Hurry, Hurry, Drive the Firetruck”): “My friend (name) is driving to the pumpkin patch, my friend (name) is driving to the pumpkin patch, my friend (name) is driving to the pumpkin patch, let’s see what (s)he finds!”

Some additional thoughts:
You can have just the child who found the pumpkin follow the direction once they get back to the circle, or have all of the students follow the direction– I think it really depends on the size of the group and how difficult transitions are.  If you have a lot of kids who have a really difficult time with transitions, following directions with steps where they get up from their chair or spot on the rug, such as “stand up” “turn around”/”spin around” or “take a bow” on repeated opportunities may be more than they can handle at this point in time.

On the other hand, having all of the students follow the directions keeps them involved with the activity throughout the whole duration, and if you’re counting this time as therapy minutes, you may be able to take data for following directions for multiple students at once.  Maybe mix and match– some directions only the “finder” follows, and others you have the whole group follow.

Free download:

If you don’t have access to a die-cut machine, or just want pre-made pumpkins, here are a couple options for you– blank pumpkins, pumpkins with directions, and pumpkins with QR codes if you want to incorporate technology.

If you use the QR codes, you can tell your kids that the pumpkins all have a “secret message” on it, which they are sure to love!  These are text-only, so you don’t need wifi to access the message.  I prefer the “QR Reader” free app.

Also included in the download are visuals for prepositions to help your kids describe where they found their pumpkin, as well as visuals for yes/no to go along with the book.

These also come in handy for your nonverbal kids to describe where they found the pumpkin– you can give them two choices, and, if they have a communication device, model the words on their device as applicable (such as “in” or “on”) afterwards (“You found it “ON” the table!”).

Grab the download here!

Apple Speech and Language Ideas

Fall is my jam.  I love apple everything, cooler temps (though it’s still been upper 80s and 90s here.. gross), boots, scarves.. the list goes on! Most preschool classrooms do an apple theme, and if you’re following along with their themes, you probably want some fun and easy apple activities that specifically target your kids’ goals!

My apple speech and language unit includes…

File folder activities that are great for kids with Autism who are using workbox-type tasks, or even those who aren’t! Target size concepts /big, little/, as well as some additional core vocabulary words like “on” “off” “want” and “more” (want more, put on, take off, etc..)

Feed the boy/girl WH questions:

Questions are on apple cards you can feed the boy or girl (both are included) as you answer– preschoolers love to force feed people and animals (ha) attached to various boxes/containers, and this is no exception!  Questions are a mix of apple-related and general WH questions.  12 apple-related what/where questions are included, as well as 12 each of general who/what/where questions (48 total questions).  Blank apples are also included, making this activity an open-ended option for any other goal, too!  To target core vocabulary words, model “eat” “in” “want” and “more.”
This activity also works well in targeting pronouns— “He is eating a yellow apple” “He is eating a green apple.”  OR, use the category cards (pictured below) to feed the boy or girl different objects (“He is eating a cookie” or “She is eating a boat”)

Associations and Go Togethers:

For this activity above, you will use the spinner to see which color apple to pick from the tree.  Once you pick an apple, name the item and something that goes with it.  For example, if your student spins and lands on yellow and chooses the yellow apple with the glue bottle on it, have them name the picture (“glue”) and ask, “What’s something that goes with glue?” (“paper”) etc… Afterwards, they can smash a ball of playdough on that apple.
A blank apple tree is included, as well, so you can also use this activity to work on naming an item based on color (ie land on green, name something that’s green, cover a green apple).
Also included are pairs of cards used to target associations/go togethers. The way I play is by lining up rows of apples and baskets (all apples in one row and baskets in another row), and play Memory by flipping one card over in the top row and one in the bottom row to see if the two items go together, and if so, how they go together.  You could also play by placing the apple cards in a sensory bin and leaving the basket cards out.  When you pull out an apple card from the bin, try to find the corresponding basket of an item that goes with it!


Sort the apples into the correct baskets based on category! 10 sets of categories are included, with four being basic categories (food, animals, clothing, transportation), and six being more specific categories (farm animals vs jungle animals rather than “animals,”  and “fruits” vs “vegetables” rather than “food.”


Apple-themed Bingo cards to talk about parts of an apple, things you can make from an apple, and other apple-related vocabulary

“Parts of an Apple” interactive book with Velcro pieces to learn about the different parts of an apple.  Each page has visuals for a two-word phrase: the apple part + “on” . (for example, “seed on” “leaf on” etc…) to also work on the core vocab word “on” with your kids using AAC.

Playdough and Dot Marker Pages:
Several fun playdough and dot marker pages are included with this so you can use materials from this unit with any other goals you’re targeting.

I adore these cute apples, and they make me smile each time I pull these pages out to use with kids!

I hope these activities will help make your apple theme planning a little easier! You can find the activities in my TeachersPayTeachers store here.

7 ways to use Zingo in therapy as MORE than just a general reinforcer

I love using games in therapy because a) they’re easy, and b) they lend themselves naturally to a variety of different skills, such as following directions, turn-taking, and learning how to handle a loss.

Often times, we might be using games as just a general reinforcer while we do drill with other skills, but today I wanted to share with you how I’ve used the game Zingo on its own to target a variety of communication skills, without needing any additional materials! 

Social Skills/Social Phrases:

Learning social phrases (“bummer” “aw man” “cool!” “good try” etc…) and how to handle it when a game isn’t going your way are more great skills to target with this, or really any turn-taking game!  


I have some little friends who have a REALLY hard time waiting their turns.  We’re talking meltdown city if waiting is involved. Turn-taking in Zingo is simple, with concrete beginnings and ends of your turn, which is one of the things I L-O-V-E about using it to target waiting your turn.

Common Object Vocabulary/Functions/WH Questions:

The picture tiles depict common objects such as “car” “apple” “boat” “tree” “train” “cake” etc… You can work on labeling these pictures, describing their function (when applicable), and answering WH questions about the items (“What do you do with a car?” “Where do you see a boat?” “Who drives a train?” etc…)


You slide the top (aka the “Zinger”) OUT, picture tiles come OUT, and then you either put the tiles ON your board, or back IN the Zinger.  Lots of opportunities for repetition with these prepositions within the game.

Answering Yes/No:

Target yes/no by asking, “Is it a match?” or “Do you have a __?” Also a great opportunity to work on the concept of negation … “not a match” or “I don’t have a ___”


VC words: I used this with one of my little guys with Apraxia who is working on words that start with vowel sounds.  I was able to target the words “out” and “in” with tons of repetitions in a functional way, without it feeling like drill.

/SL/:  Do you have any kids working on s-blends? (#justkidding. I know you do.).  Practice the word “SLide” each time you slide the Zinger out.

“CH”: I’ve used this game to target final “ch” with “match” and “no match.”

/V/: Work on word final /v/ within the phrases/sentences “I have…” or “I don’t have…”

/G/: Your kiddos can practice “go” with “It GOES on my board” or “It GOES back in.”  Or, I’ve also simplified it to “go on” and “go back in”/”go in”)


My turn, your turn, I got, you got, you have (#) left, I have (#) left, He has, She has… I go, you go… plenty of ways to target pronouns in a more natural setting/manner versus, say, using a card deck of pronouns.

Zingo is one of my favorite games to use in therapy because it’s so easy to target a variety of skills! 

Looking for more ways to use games to target your communication goals without just using them as a reinforcer? You’ll love this post on my favorite games for final consonant deletion! 

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round…

If you are following The Frenzied SLPs on Facebook, you may have seen our series of one-item therapy activities.  In case you missed it, I shared ideas for how to use one activity (I know, I strayed a little bit from the one “item” theme) to target a variety of goals for your EI and preschool caseload using a school bus and farm animals while you sing!

First up– articulation goals!

You can target a mix of earlier-emerging sounds /p, t, d, h, k g/ just by naming the farm animals as you sing the song, “Who stole the bus from school today?” “Pig!”  “Pig stole the bus from school today….” etc…
I actually got the idea for this song while working with one of my 5 year olds on SH and CH.  We sang this song, and used the carrier phrase, “I choose….” for each verse when he had to choose which animal we’d sing about next.
The same little friend was responsible for helping me create this play scheme with the farm animals.  We talked about who stole the school bus, how they woke up late and chased after the bus (“Stop the school bus!”), how they had to follow rules like standing in line to get on the bus, encouraging some of the shy animals to get on the bus and “come to school”, etc…  
These materials are great for working on CV and CVCV syllables with your kids with Apraxia using mostly the animal sounds.  We sang about the farm animals and their sounds to the tune of Wheels on the Bus, and pushed the bus back and forth to each other!
I changed jobs/settings this year, and part of my caseload is early intervention.  I have several toddlers with Down Syndrome on my caseload who are working on imitating early sounds, babbling reduplicated syllables, saying first words, and imitating environmental/animal sounds.  They LOVE singing, and love pushing the bus back and forth! I can hit lots of their early speech and language goals with animals and their sounds.
Have students working on prepositions? Have them place the animals in different places on/around the bus, or have the animals form a line to get on the bus and have your student place each animal in front of/between/behind another animal.
A lot of core vocabulary words can be targeted with this activity if you have AAC users on a device that is core-word based, like Words for Life or ProLoQuo.  The images above gives you some ideas for words and phrases to target while you’re playing/singing.
You can use this activity with your kids who are at varying levels of PECS stages.  If they are at the single icon level, they can request a specific animal, or request to make the bus “go.”  At the two-word level, they can request/comment “animal+go” and “animal+in” and at the three-icon level, they can use the combination “animal”+”go”+”in.”
I love the EI/preschool population! They are so much fun, and they are typically entertained by the simplest of things; hence, how I entertained the majority of my caseload with just farm animals, a school bus, and my (awful) singing (Adam Levine, if you’re reading this, I am in definite need of a voice coach. Call me.).
What other ideas do you have for using a bus and animals to target speech and language goals? Let me know in the comments below!

Target Dollar Spot Finds for Therapy- February 2017!

Well, it’s a good thing I struck out on everything I tried on at Loft over the weekend because I went to Target on my way home to pick up 3 things (bananas, milk, and peppermint extract) and proceeded to spend all the money on all the things non food-related:  Target clothes (because I obviously need more than the 8 cardigans already in my closet) and therapy materials in the Dollar Spot (I mean, it’s for the kids, right? Right.)  I wanted to share the things I found in hopes that you can find them at your Target Dollar Spot, too!

First up.. These felt boards! *swoon* (pretend there are several heart eye emojis here) I love the transportation one for labeling transportation vocabulary, answering WH questions, concepts/following directions (“Put the blue plane under the sun” etc..), and sorting into categories.  It comes with 11 felt pieces to sort into 4 different locations.

I also used this with one of my AAC users who is using ProLoQuo, and I modeled transportation vocab, as well as phrases using core vocabulary like “go up there” “in there” “up here” “go on” etc…
Here’s a closeup of the pieces included: a submarine, ship, sailboat, two rockets, a jet, an airplane, a bulldozer, racecar, train, and police car
One of the other things I LOVE about it is that the back of the board has a pouch for storing all the pieces, and it folds into fourths and ties with a ribbon to hold it together, so it’s super easy to store!
The dollhouse felt board set is amazing, too! I love it for household/clothing vocabulary, and following directions.  It had several “lift-the-flap” components to it, too.
It includes 14 manipulative pieces: 4 girls, 8 clothing pieces, a pie, and a cat…
…and folds out to several different rooms.  Here in the kitchen, you can pretend to cook a pie in the oven (the oven opens up), eat/drink various items from the fridge, wash hands at the sink, sit down at the table, etc…
In the closet, you can give directions to hang certain clothing items on the hangers, put the cat on the chair, talk about the clothing items on the background and where they would go, and try on different clothes (“Give her a blue dress”) 
You can also have the dolls (and the cat!) take a nap/go to bed.
There are also some outdoor scenes, with the front of the house, and this nature background:
Also found in the Dollar Spot: these reusable sticker clings with background scenes! I picked up the dinosaur and woodland creature ones, but they also had a king/queen/castle/dragon sticker scene, too! 
These are great for targeting following directions with basic concepts.  

You can find the short mountain, tall mountain, put dinosaurs on top of the mountain, in the water, next to the rock, above the tree, below the volcano, etc….

I think the dinosaur one in particular is great for describing.. since they’re all dinosaurs, you have to be descriptive/specific in which one to get!

For example, “the blue dinosaur with green spikes” “the blue dinosaur with a long neck and glasses” “the green dinosaur with a yellow belly” etc…  Have your students give you, or each other, the description of which dinosaur to get and where to put it– with two sets, you could play it as a barrier game.

The forest friends set below was too cute to pass up:

And the dinosaur fingers… oh, the dinosaur fingers.  

 You basically put these on your finger, pull back, and fling with your finger and they go FLYING. I tried to sneakily hit my unsuspecting husband while he was on his computer, but grossly underestimated how far they’d fly.. ha.

This could probably get out of control really quickly, and I’m definitely only planning on using this with kids who I think could handle this and not get out-of-control revved up from the excitement.  I’m thinking we’re going to fling these at artic cards propped up against the wall.  I’ll report back and let you know how it goes. These would probably make awesome reinforcers, though, if you have older artic kids that aren’t motivated to come to speech.

Lastly, there was this super cute, couldn’t-pass-up, bug catcher with a frog on it.  I’m not 100% sure what I want to do with this yet, but I think it would be cute to use my “spring” and “bug” themed Cariboo vocabulary cards with this.

Happy shopping, friends!!

Work-Team Relationships

Building relationships is important in all facets of life, and work-team relationships are no different! These are the people you see and work closely with, day in and day out.  During the week, you spend more waking hours at work than you probably do at home.  Not only is it important to just “get along” with them, but when you can really grow close as a team, it makes your job that much more enjoyable.  Having at least 1 or 2 close friends at work that you can go to to vent, laugh, cry, etc… in my experience, is priceless.

I just started a new job last summer and had to start all over again at ground zero in building my work-team relationships after being at my previous job for 5 years.  That being said, I have had wonderful work team relationships in both places I’ve been, so I want to share with you some things I think have made it work as well as it has (and a huge thank you to my work friends who helped me brainstorm ideas for this post!).

I’m writing about building relationships both from the perspective of being a fellow team member on the therapist/teacher team, and also from the perspective of building a relationship with someone you are supervising.  This is a long post, but stay with me.  I have some valuable input for you!

First up.. building relationships with fellow teacher/therapist colleagues!

Be open-minded and don’t take offense.  I just had this chat last week with the BCBA I work with.  No one on our team gets offended if she (or anyone else) asks if we need help or steps in when a kid’s meltdown is escalating and she/they have a strategy to try.  The reverse applies, too- she has told me multiple times that if I want her to be using a different communication method/strategy with a kid, to please tell her and she will not be offended.  I think a big part of being on a successful team is knowing that you are knowledgeable in your specific area, but that because our professions all overlap in so many ways, we all have things we can learn from each other.  As long as no one oversteps boundaries (e.g. making decisions about another professional’s area without consulting them), it can be a wonderful learning experience.  I am always eager to learn more behavior strategies from our BCBA and more about sensory processing from our OTs.  Keep an open mind.  You might just learn something that completely changes the way you view a particular student or situation!

Pitch in.  The other day at work, during my therapy time with one of our kids being potty trained, there was a “misfire” all over the bathroom.  One of my team members got me some towels while another one wiped up the floor, while I was cleaning up the kiddo and getting him changed.  I cannot tell you how much I appreciated the help! At my last job, there were a few times where I helped with administering language-based tasks of G-3 testing (our PreK testing in the school district that happened 3x a year) for kids on my caseload if the teacher was getting really backlogged.  My therapy schedule was shot during testing week, anyway– pitching in a few minutes here and there doesn’t take a ton of effort, and lets your team members know you’re a team player.  A small gesture often times goes a long way!

Co-teach! I know this is a lot easier in the early childhood setting, but I always LOVED doing in-class services in our preschool classrooms.  It gives the teachers a chance to see what you do, what you’re working on, cuing strategies you use, etc… so they can carry out the same things throughout the rest of our students’ days.  The early childhood teachers I worked with loved having SLPs and OTs come in and do a small group rotation.  The reverse is true, too– I would see an activity the teacher was doing and would be inspired in how I could spin it into a language activity! Buy-in is way higher if the teachers can SEE what you’re doing and see it implemented successfully!

If you’re in an elementary school setting where in-class lessons are a little trickier, and the buy-in is much lower.. pick 1 teacher you get along with who is open to you coming into their classroom.  Start with that one classroom, and when things go well, inevitably they’ll tell their other grade-level teammates, and they’ll start to get interested, which may open up doors for you to work with other classroom teachers, too!

Celebrate! Celebrate the funny stories and little successes with your team members.  Even if you have nothing else in common, you have your students in common, and that is something you can bond over.  We all need encouragement to keep going sometimes– sharing a breakthrough is sometimes the confirmation that “I AM doing it right and we ARE making progress!”  Sharing successes also allows your teammates to see your passion for the kids you are working with!  Additionally, a funny story to make your teammates laugh is sometimes just what they need after a stressful morning/day!

Take an interest in their lives.  Ask about how their weekends went when you see them on Monday.  If they mention their significant other, ask how long they’ve been dating/married.  Ask how they met.  Ask about their kids.  They have a dog and you’re a dog lover, too? Share a funny story about your dog! They did something really cool over the weekend that you love to do or have been dying to try, too? Share that! Take an interest in their lives and make connections.  If there’s really no common ground you can talk about… See “Celebrate” above 😉

Understand that each role on the team has their own set of stressors.  Maybe you’re stressed because you have 8 IEP meetings next week and you’re the case manager for 5 of them.  Maybe your OT is stressed because all of a sudden there’s 10 new kids in K-5 who need sensory supports and she has to find a time to get in and observe them.  Maybe one of the ECSE teachers is stressed because she just got 2 new kids added to her already-too-full classroom.  Maybe your PT who is only there once a week found out that an IEP meeting was rescheduled for that same day and the case manager forgot to tell her.  Everyone is stressed.  Respect that.  It is never okay to play the “one-up” game and make others feel like their stressors aren’t as valid as yours.

From a supervisory/assistant relationship standpoint…

When I had my school job, I had my own para for the last 3 out of 5 years.  We had a wonderful relationship and by the end of my time there, I (only half)-jokingly referred to her as my life coach because I frequently asked for her input/advice.  I told her I was writing this post, and asked her what she felt like made our kind of supervisory/assistant relationship work as well as it did.  Here’s what she said:

1.  Respect: “You always acknowledged me (and others) and never made us feel inferior for having a different job title.”  It’s not hard to greet people and respond when they greet you.  Not everyone at my last job did that, but it’s something SO simple and makes a world of difference.  When people feel acknowledged and welcomed, they’re happier and perform better at their jobs.

2.  “You gave me areas of responsibility so I could keep busy, grow in ability, and feel accomplished.  That made me better and made me more valuable to the group as a whole.”   Play to your assistant’s strengths and interests.  My para became excellent at running small group rotations in the classrooms.  She learned how to adapt my activities to different levels of kids and could run these without needing much guidance from me.  This was a win for me, too, because I often used this time to pull kids for IEP/eval data, or to sit down and work on reports for a little bit.  Sometimes, we would both come in if a classroom had a kid that needed more support during a group or a rotation in general that needed two sets of hands to keep things running smoothly.  I could let her run it while I focused more on specific kids.

My para was also really great with the language kids, too, and I felt like that was her strength more than articulation.  Articulation therapy was also less of an interest to her, so when I scheduled her with kids, I tried to have her seeing the language kids more than articulation kids.  Our elementary SLP saw the opposite in her para- she thought articulation was a great strength for her para, so her para saw a lot of artic kids.  Figure out a way to use their strengths to your (and the kids’!) advantage!

3.  “You always complimented when you saw good methods and teaching, but took in stride things that didn’t work by trying something else.  It was never a big deal.”   Positive feedback is so important! Even if you know you’re doing a good job, it’s always nice to hear it from someone else, too.  When you’re supervising a para or SLPA, they need to know what they’re doing well (increased confidence = increased job performance, which benefits you and your students, too!) as well as ideas for strategies they might try to change things up next time if something didn’t go well.  They’re not trained SLPs, and don’t have the same extensive background as us.  We can’t expect them to just know how to do things.  It’s our responsibility to give feedback and gradually shape them into effective therapy providers under our supervision.

4. “You asked for my input and you always included everyone when the breakthroughs happened so we could celebrate!”  I feel like part of why my para enjoyed her job was because I frequently shared new ideas I was excited to try and shared mini milestones of success.  Your passion for your career is contagious and rubs off on people.  Your assistant is doing therapy, too– asking for their input and including him/her in the excitement shows them you value them and their efforts, as well.

Whew! Are you still with me? I know that was a long one.  But, building relationships at work is so, so, SO important in job satisfaction, and I hope you felt like these tips were useful.  For other bloggers’ tips on building relationships at work, check out the link-up below!

Halloween Speech and Language Therapy Ideas

Ah, October…. Colorful leaves, cute boots, scarves, pumpkin-flavored everything…. 🙂 Just a few of my favorite things! Halloween is just on the horizon, and if you need some fun, easy ideas to fill in some holes in your therapy plans for the next week, check out these activities I’ve been using!

1.  Alien sensory bag

I used this last Spring for an Outer Space unit, but what better time for a #TBT activity like this than in a Halloween post? 😉 I used green hair gel, but recently read about making sensory bags with colored water instead of hair gel.  I haven’t tried that yet, so if you do- let me know how it works! You can buy cheap hair gel at the Dollar Store.  Be sure to tape up the opening of the bag with some heavy duty packing tape or duct tape so it doesn’t accidentally open and spill everywhere!

Goal areas targeted: 
-sorting googly eyes by size (small/medium/large) to target size concepts
-following directions: “Put X amount of sm/med/lg eyes in the bag” (e.g. “Put 2 small eyes in the bag” “Move a big eye above a little eye” “Make a row of 3 eyeballs”)

2.  Craftivities
I love using my Cariboo vocabulary and phonology cards as the base for crafts– you can read my post on using them here.  Printing them on colored computer or construction paper makes these crafts super easy! (Note: the Alien craft features pictures from Primary Punch’s No Prep Apraxia set, while Frankenstein and the pumpkin feature my Cariboo cards)

Goal areas targeted: articulation/phonology, vocabulary, WH questions, object functions

3.  Playdough Monsters for Speech AND Language!


I first tried this out last year in my small group lessons in the ECSE classrooms, and the kids LOVED it! I cut some straws and gathered playdough, fruit loops, googly eyes, beads and some super skinny dowel rods that I happened to have on hand.  BUT, this year, I used pipe cleaners instead of dowel rods when I did this in therapy and it was WAY better.  I also only used beads instead of fruit loops, which still let me incorporate colors, but was easier than the fruit loops which sometimes crumbled.

Goal areas targeted:
-basic concepts/following directions (“Put two straws under the eyes” “Put 3 purple fruit loops on the tall stick” etc…)
-fine motor skills (Maybe if you ask your OT or ECSE teachers nicely, they’ll even have kids cut straws as a fine motor activity ahead of time to give you ;-))
-articulation (as a speech activity, each production gave them a piece to make a monster of their own.  5 productions = 5 fruit loops, 5 beads, etc…!)

4.  Print and GO Craftivities –Haunted House + Pumpkin Patch
I have two print and go Halloween craftivities in my TpT store that are perfect for when you’re short on time (aka ALL. THE. TIME. #SLPLIFE) and can’t laminate/prep in advance.

“Spooky Speech” features early sounds /p, b, m, n, w, h, t, d, y, k, g, f/ and s-blends
There IS an option to laminate and assemble to make a large haunted house and get your kids up and away from the table, but if you’re short on time, just use the craftivity option!

Print out the single page haunted house, glue onto black construction paper, and glue on the ghosts as you practice.  If you’re using it in a group (which, let’s be real- if you’re working in the schools, you’re definitely using it in a group) and need to keep little hands busy, let them color the target word pictures as they wait their turn!
Goal areas targeted: 
-Pronouns (using the sentence, “He swallowed a…”)
-Spatial concepts (“Glue the apple at the bottom of the house” “Put the paint at the top of the house”)

“Pumpkin Patch Articulation” is a no-prep articulation activity that covers earlier AND later-developing sounds.  Pumpkins are a great alternative to ghosts/witches etc… if you’re not allowed to use “Halloween” in therapy.  There is a lot to color on the background scene page, which, again, is great to keep your kiddos busy when it’s not their turn in a group.

Goal areas targeted:
-Spatial concepts (giving specific directives about where to place pumpkins– “Glue the slide next to slash” “Glue the scale under the slide” etc…)

5.  Halloween Wind-Up Toys

Grab these at Michaels for $2 a piece!

If you have kids working on combining two icons together with PECS, you can use wind-up toys to target this goal by having icons of the wind-up toys (either an actual photo or clipart of “pumpkin” “skull” or “ghost,” as an example using the toys above).

Combine the wind up toy icons with the icon for “go” (e.g. “go pumpkin” or, with the ‘I want’ sentence strip, “I want …’pumpkin go.’ ”  You can also bring in some color concepts, and use icons “orange” + “pumpkin” or “white” + “ghost” to model expanded language, as well!

Hallie at Speech Time Fun wrote a post about using Wind Up toys with sheets she made based on language goals, while I’ve seen posts from Speech Room News and Crazy Speech World about using them with articulation sheets!

6.  Halloween Erasers

I found these in the Target $1 spot about a month ago! These are perfect to use with a Halloween bingo game, or instead of Chipper Chat tokens on a token board. Danielle over at Sublime Speech also had a great idea to use the candy erasers for the Granny’s Candy game!

7.  “The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything” book

Goal areas targeted:
-Body parts/clothing items
-Action words
-Following directions

One of my super smart ECSE teachers gave me the inspiration for this activity! I used this book for one of my kids working on following 2 step related directions.  I cut out the printable props from Toddler Approved but didn’t have time to color them, so I left them as is.  Confession: My therapy materials aren’t always pretty 😉 I also used a die where you can insert your own pictures, and cut out the printables from 3Dinosaurs to put in it.

The kiddo I was working with rolled the die, and then I’d give him a directive to act out from the story.  For example, if he rolled the pants, I’d tell him “Get the pants and make them wiggle” or “Find the gloves and make them clap” if he rolled the gloves, etc…

8.  “Spookley” book

This book is great for talking about attributes (colors + shapes of the pumpkins) with your little ones! Round pumpkins, square pumpkins, rectangular and triangular pumpkins, blue pumpkins, purple pumpkins, etc…! It’s also FULL of s-blends, which is great practice for your artic kids working on those blends.  We also made our OWN Spookley with pictures of target words from my Cariboo phonology set printed on orange paper.  You could print on blue, purple, or pink paper, too, to make the other types of pumpkins that grew at the end of the book!
Goal areas targeted:
-Attributes (colors + shapes)
-Expanding utterances with attributes

Which one of these activities is your favorite? What are some of your most favorite go-to activities around this time of year? Share them with me in the comment section below!

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Pirates always give me a flashback to my college days. My husband and I went as pirates together one Halloween when we were dating in college, so pirates always make me think of him! (Also, I probably always associate him and pirates because he defaulted to going as a pirate for 3 out of 4 years we were dating.. and also maybe also because when he ordered a pirate costume the first year, the company accidentally sent him a women’s pirate costume, so he could only wear the eye patch and head wrap for Halloween…  ha.  Still cracks me up to this day!)

Anyway, I also love incorporating fun pirate activities into speech, and wanted to share with you a few of my favorites for a link-up by Ashley over at Sweet Southern Speech!

1. “Ahoy, Pirate Pete” is one of my favorite books to use in therapy.  I love how interactive it is, so it keeps my little guys engaged throughout the entirety of the book.  They get to choose how the story reads on each page, and I get to hit multiple language targets! They never get tired of it because they can change the way the story reads each time.  For a video to see examples of the pages, click here (I have been searching my house high and low for my Pirate Pete book, and can’t find it anywhere to take an example picture of one of the pages! Womp womp)

Easy targets:
1.  Pronouns- On each page, they can describe what’s happening on the page starting with “He is…”
2.  WH questions- ask WH questions about the objects on the page (“Where would an pig REALLY live?”)
3.  Absurdities- The perfect book for describing how/why something could not be used for a specific function or be in that location
2. To go along with the book, I created a pirate-themed articulation sensory bin.

Sidenote: If you are transporting your sensory bin in a vehicle, make sure it’s in a bin with a lid.  I made this novice mistake, and when someone cut me off and I had to slam on my brakes, my bin FULL of beans went flying EV-ER-Y-WHERE!  I’m still finding beans randomly in my car! When I took my car in for an oil change to Jiffy Lube recently, I felt like I should explain to the mechanics why they might find randomly find beans while they were vacuuming the inside of my car.. ha. #totallynormal #slpproblems

I bought the gold coins from Michaels around St. Patty’s Day one year, but you can find some at your local party supply store (like Party City) or on Amazon (note: the link is an add-on item, but I’m sure you can find something else you need to purchase on Amazon!).  I put scotch tape on the gold coins and wrote numbers 1-5 with a sharpie on the tape, so I could take the numbers off and reuse the coins for other purposes if I so desired.  No- cost alternative: Cut out some “coins” with yellow construction paper– super easy, but even easier with a circle die-cut, or the craft circle punchers if you have one!

I did this activity over the summer for a kiddo I was seeing for private therapy, and forgot to print off some target word pictures before I left, so I (very poorly) drew some on a sheet of paper.  When he found a coin with #1 on it, he practiced the word under the 1 column (“spider”).  When he found a #2 coin, he practiced the word under the #2 column (“spoon”), so on and so forth.  If you have picture cards, I’d lay them under each number in a column (however many you can fit on a page) for a more visually appealing setup ;-).

With a mixed group, you could lay different target cards below each other, and each one of your kiddos can have a dedicated color (think Webber artic cards– whoever is working on their /k/ sound always knows to use the pink card in each column, whoever is working on /f/ knows to use the red card in each column, etc…).

3.  Another pirate-themed activity I used was a pirate game board from the phonological process palooza pack from Mia at Putting Words in Your Mouth.  It’s super cute and an easy thing to pull out and use with any target!

What are some of your favorite pirate activities to do in therapy?