The SLP Guide to Black Friday

I’m pretty sure a love of shopping was programmed into my genetic makeup at birth. I get it from my dad, who probably enjoys shopping more than I do… My parents always used to go out at 4am on Black Friday when all of us kids were younger, in order to get the best deals on toys and games. I haven’t done a ton of Black Friday shopping (mostly because I love sleep), but I have gone out the last two years.

Last year, my first stop was Walmart to get some nice sheets on sale, thinking everyone would be in electronics and it’d be easy to get them. False. I got elbowed in the face when they opened up the pallet, so I decided to just walk away.. An ER visit was not worth it for bed sheets!! My husband had gone with me to get some Coke, so we ended up checking out, on Black Friday, with only a 2 liter of soda.. Ha!

In most other places besides Walmart, the check out lines were the worst part of the stores.. I haven’t had any bad encounters at any other store, but I’ve been to Walmarts in less populated areas that weren’t crazy, either, so I guess it just depends on your area!

That being said, I think I might just stick to trying to do most of my Black Friday shopping online this time around.. But for those who are going out to the stores to shop, I saw a lot of good deals in the ads this year that could be useful for SLPs. I thought I’d highlight some of the most relevant deals being advertised at various stores this year!

1. Michaels:
-30 percent off die cut machines and accessories, plus $20-$25 Cricut cartridges–good for the crafty SLPs!

-50 percent off Creatology crafts, including sticker buckets – – could be used for some winter/Christmas-themed crafts you’re making in the speech room! I love the sticker buckets!

-Photo boxes 5/$7 (regularly $4 each) – – Could be used as organization / storage for printable TpT materials!

Combine these deals with a 30 percent off your entire purchase coupon from their ad (or get it from the Michaels app on your phone) for even more savings!

2. Target
-$299 16gb iPad Mini, plus $75 Target gift card with any iPad mini purchase

-$100 Target gift card with any regular size iPad purchase

-$50 for $60 worth of iTunes cards (pack of four $15 cards)

-$5 Games: Hedbanz, Jenga, Connect 4

3. Toys R Us
-$3.99 Game: Chutes and Ladders

-$5 Games: Angry Birds Outer Space, Cooties, Connect 4 Launchers

-$8 Game: Hedbandz

-Playdoh 4-pk: $1 each

-Save $10 on iTunes gift card purchases of $50 or more

4. Walmart
-$4.88 Games: Don’t Break The Ice, Chutes and Ladders, Candyland

-$14.77 for Apples to Apples (regularly $21.88)

5. KMart
-50 percent off Apples to Apples to go and Angry Birds

-$229 (39 percent off) for a Silhouette Cameo die cut machine + Vinyl Starter Kit + $25 + $10 download card

7. Walgreens
-$4.99 high heel tape dispenser–what girl doesn’t need one of these?! 🙂

-$15 Walgreens gift card with the purchase of two $25 iTunes card

Are you braving the crowds this black Friday, or are you sticking to Cyber Monday?? Post some of your finds if you’re shopping – – I love to hear about good deals!!

Apraxia Treatment (2nd in a 4 Part Series): Using Pivot Phrases in Therapy

Pivot phrases (or carrier phrases, depending on your preferred terminology) can be *so* beneficial in working with kids not only with apraxia, but with a lot of young language-delayed kids in general.  Pivot/carrier phrases are phrases where the one part of the phrase (i.e. the first two words) stay the same throughout the activity, but the last word changes.  Some examples are…
*I want ….
*I like ….
*I see ….
*Put on ….
*Take out ….
*Open …

Carrier phrases are typically 2-3 words, and are great to implement when a child has obtained some consistent single word approximations, but isn’t yet combining multiple words together.  Using pivot/carrier phrases gives the child the opportunity for lots of repetitive practice in sequencing sounds and words together, which is key for motor learning! Carrier phrases allow you to work on the expressive language piece of communication (by combining multiple words together) while still working on successive approximations on the accuracy/clarity of the words produced.  

Let’s take the carrier phrase, “open ___,” as an example.  If a child is only producing single consonant or vowel sounds for words (i.e. produces “o” for “open”), you could facilitate a step up by working on VCV and CV approximations such as “o-pih” or “o-puh” while using it in a carrier phrase (i.e. “o-pih bah” for “open box” or “o-pih du” for “open juice.”).  This way, you’re still facilitating a higher level of motor speech production than what they are doing spontaneously (but not too high a level where they can’t be successful), while still encouraging and facilitating the use of multiple word combinations.  

Carrier phrases are also great because they’re predictable.  They reduce the “linguistic load,” so the child doesn’t have to think as much about what they are going to say.  Sequencing is such a challenge for kids with apraxia, especially those just starting their journey in speech therapy, so anything that can help it become more automatic, from my experience, seems to help a ton!

In addition to kids with apraxia, I’ve found that carrier phrases work really well with preschoolers who have language delays and aren’t combining many words together.  Carrier phrases are predictable, making it easier for the kids to “catch on” to what I’m expecting them to do, and they start using the 2-3 word combinations more consistently with less cuing/modeling from me!

Some of the ways I incorporate these into activities in speech:

*Playing “Memory” with speech cards (“I got ___” or “I see __”)- I typically have two sets of words they’re working on (i.e. VCV or CVCV words, etc…) and use those as the target words.

*Go Fish with speech cards (“You have ___?”)

*Looking at books:  Books with repetitive, predictable text like Eric Carle’s “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” are great for using carrier phrases (“I see a…”), but really, any book can work! You can flip through the pages and use the carrier phrase “I see ___”) to point out different pictures you see on each page.  

*Mr Potato Head: I might have them use “I want” to tell me the different parts they want, i.e. “I want hat” or “I want eyes.”  I might also use “put on” to have them tell me they want to “put on hat” or “put on feet.”  Another one you could use is “___ go on” like “hat go on” or “nose go on.”

*Beanbags! I’m not sure if I’ve professed my love of beanbags enough, but they are seriously amazing.  Bubbles and beanbags are two of my kids’ favorite things!  With beanbags, we might throw them onto pictures of their speech words and use the phrase “Bag on ___” to name and practice the word their beanbags land on.

*Candyland– A lot of my little ones are working on learning their colors in the classroom.  With Candyland, I can reinforce those concepts, use some color words as targeted words for motor speech practice, and use pivot phrases like “I got (color)” for every card they draw.

*Putting toys in or on something…anything, really! For instance, using a farm set and saying “(farm animal) go in” when they’re going in the barn… or cooking pretend food with a kitchen set (“(food) in pan” or “(food) on plate”)… so many possibilities in play!  “In” “On” and “Out” are easy words to incorporate into carrier phrases, and are great for targeting final consonants, too! 🙂

*Any sort of “I Spy,” Flashlight game, or sensory tub activity where pictures or objects are hidden in a tub of sand/corn/etc…  “I found” or “I see” are great carrier phrases to use with these types of activities!

What are some of your go-to activities in using pivot phrases during your therapy sessions? I’d love to hear your ideas!!

Gobble Till Ya Wobble! Paint Chip Turkeys in the speech room!

There’s tons of paint chip crafts all over Pinterest.. You can do SO many things with paint samples, and the best part– they’re F-R-E-E at your local hardware store! 

One of the crafts I’ve done with them the last few years is make paint chip turkeys in the speech room. It’s super simple but super cute!
I use this with my artic kiddos mostly, but you could adapt it to work on a lot of other goals! I went to Lowe’s and grabbed a bunch of fall-colored paint chip samples and cut them in half vertically to make the feathers.  The turkey bodies are just brown construction paper cut into circles via large and small circle die cuts from our teacher workroom.  
For every word they practice, I write it down on a paint chip and they get to glue it onto the turkey’s body.  Simple as that!
Some other ways to use the turkeys…
*Have each turkey body be a category, and then as students name items in that category, write each one down on a feather.  Glue feathers on the body, and voila! Category turkeys!
*Use longer paint chip sample strips and glue on pictures of their speech or vocab words as they practice
*Use with EET- Write down the item you want your students to describe (i.e. “turkey” or “Thanksgiving”) on the turkey body.  Have your students describe the item, and each part they describe gets written on a feather for them to glue on.
Have you made any crafts with paint chips? How else could you use these paint chip turkeys? I’d love to hear your ideas!

The Dinosaur Stomp!

If nothing else, I know my preschool boys.  I know they like zombies.  I know they like trains.  I know they like robots.  And I know they like dinosaurs! So, we’ve kept the dinosaur fun going for an extra week in preschool.

We’ve been acting like dinosaurs and stomping our speech words this week! The kids got to attach a “dinosaur foot” to one of their feet, and walk around the room stomping on their speech cards as they practiced their words! My boys L-O-V-E-D it.  They begged me to let them take the feet so they could keep the fun going at home.  I haven’t tried this with my girls yet, but I’m sure they’ll love it, too! 
The dinosaur stomp worked well at the single word, phrase level (“stomp a ___”), and sentence levels (“I stomped a ____” or “I’m stomping ___”) for articulation practice.  You could easily adapt it for a lot of other goals, too.  Just as an example, I have concept cards from this free Dinosaur language packet by Let’s Talk Speech Language Pathology that I plan on using with the dino feet for my kids working on basic concepts.  I’ll tell them to stomp the dinosaur that’s under the table, next to the desk, etc…
These dinosaur feet were just cut out from two sides of a cardboard box, and outlined with brown marker to give it a little something extra.  Make 4 holes in the middle and string ribbon through to tie around their feet, and you’re done! Easy peasy.
What do you think? Think you could use this with your students? What other ways would you use the feet?

Dino Describing! A DIY activity

It’s Dinosaur week here in preschool.. one of my favorite weeks!  I wanted to share a DIY I did this week to use for small group rotations in the classrooms.. Describing Dinos!

This is pretty much just a DIY version of the “Hedbandz” game.. I took 3 strips of black construction paper, laminated them, and then stapled them together to fit around my head.  I put a Velcro dot on the front center of the “headband”, and attached Velcro to the bottom of each laminated dinosaur picture I was using to be able to easily interchange the pictures.  I just found these images from Google searches and Graphics Factory!
For the activity, I had groups of 3-4 kids at a time, and each one had to take a turn describing one aspect of the dinosaur on my head to help me guess which one it was.  I had made two sets of pictures– one to go on my head (laminated with Velcro) and another set to lay out on the table as my choices when I was guessing.
 It was a great way to expressively target some basic concepts like long/short/tall, etc.. I created this visual to help them learn different ways to describe a dinosaur:
I used this with my afternoon kids because they’re older and most are at a higher level than my morning kids (many are turning 5 and going to kindergarten next year, whereas my morning is full of lots of little 3 year olds!), and it worked really well for them! Challenging enough, but not too challenging, and they LOVED it.  They thought it was *hilarious* to see one of their “teachers” wear something silly like this. 
I also happened to be doing this activity in a classroom when the principal walked in to do her observation of the teacher… My timing is impeccable… ha.  I turned around in my chair and there was the principal, while I’ve got a big dinosaur smack dab on my forehead! I think she appreciated it, though.. 🙂
You can download the dinosaur pictures and describing visual here if you’d like to use it!