Progress Monitoring: A Frenzied SLP link-up!

The Frenzied SLPs are linking up today to bring you some information on progress monitoring and data collection! Truthfully, this is not my area of forte.  I never have managed to come up with a general data sheet that I have just *LOVED*, but I’ll share with you what I found worked best for me with my caseload in the schools!

I tried binders.  I tried folders.  I tried every data sheet under the sun!  Nothing really stuck with me, but I did find a system that worked well for me with regard to taking data quickly in groups, and having a way to track data in the preschool classroom without carrying around a bulky binder or stacks of folders.

Enter: Return Address Labels

Each morning before I started the day, I’d grab a new sheet of address labels (or use a partial one from the previous day) to use to take data throughout the day.

I only had to have one page out for each group, no matter how large the group was, and could take individual data on individual labels, to peel off and stick onto each of their data sheets later.  If it came down to it, you could even put a few of them on your leg to jot notes down if you’re going to be on the floor, say, in the dramatic play area, or otherwise in a situation where it’s not ideal to have a full sheet out to write on/keep track of.

At the end of the day, when it came time to do Medicaid billing, it was easy to just run down the sheet(s) from the day and enter in the system for each kiddo who required billing.

Harry Potter, anyone? πŸ˜‰

From there, the sticky labels are transferred onto their individual data sheets (kept in a binder) in the individual goal columns.  This way, even though you don’t necessarily always have their full data sheets out in front of you, you are still looking at the data sheets frequently to see how they are progressing with their goals, which goals you haven’t targeted or taken data on for a bit, etc…

(This is just a makeshift data sheet I quickly drew up by hand for the purpose of this blog post, but for my real data sheets, I printed the label template sheet from the Avery website, for the size of labels I had, and wrote goal areas at the top of each column)

It’s not a perfect system, but it’s what worked best for me, my schedule/time constraints, and my caseload!  I didn’t waste time flipping through data sheets, and the sticky labels are at least transferable, so I didn’t have to re-write data onto data sheets, or fear that the labels would lose their stickiness over time on the data sheet, like post-it notes would!

What system works for you? Have you found anything you loved? Be sure to read the other posts in this link-up for some great ideas!

15 Simple Craftivities for the Year- Using Cariboo cards!

Things I love:
1.  Cariboo
2.  Craftivities
3.  Easy therapy planning with minimal prep work involved
4.  Adapting a set of materials to use with a variety of kids
5.  Hitting “print” and walking to a nearby printer to pick up all of my papers, versus flipping through a bulky spiral-bound book to make copies of each page I need, holding up a line of fellow teachers/therapists who also need to make copies ASAP, who are also silently cursing me and hoping that the only copier in the school doesn’t break again before it’s their turn.

If you love all of these things, too, (especially #5), then you’re in luck.  Today, I’m going to show you a variety of CUTE and SIMPLE themed craftivities that you can make throughout the year by printing my Cariboo language and Cariboo phonology cards on colored printer/construction paper!

Fall Craftivities:

1.  School bus
Materials Needed: paper plate, yellow copy/construction paper for the bus, and black construction paper for the wheels

Take a paper plate and fold it in half, and glue the yellow target pictures onto the plate.  I used the “back to school” cards from my original language set, which are great for targeting school supply vocabulary and object functions.  I used 4 wheels per bus since I was using the front and back.  I also cut off the top rounded part of the plate when I was done, to have a flat edge at the top.

2.  Apple
Materials needed: paper plate, red (or green or yellow!) copy/construction paper, brown construction paper (stem), green construction paper (leaf)

Print any set of cards (two syllable words from my phonology set are featured in this one) on red, green, or yellow paper, and glue all around the plate! You can also have your kids color the plate with a crayon ahead of time so the empty spaces between the pictures are the same color as the pictures, too.  Add the stem and leaf, and voila!

3.  Farm
Materials needed: red construction paper for the barn, and red copy/construction paper for the pictures

Cut out the shape of a barn on red construction paper, and glue your pictures on! Featured here are the farm animal and initial /f/ sets of Cariboo cards.  Using the farm animal set, you could target receptive/expressive vocabulary with animal names, identify animals by the sound they make, talk about what they like to eat, how they move (galloping, running, hopping, flying…), etc…!

4.  Pumpkin
Materials needed: paper plate, orange copy/construction paper, brown construction paper (stem)

Print the desired set of cards on orange paper (featured here is the Halloween set) and glue all around.  Again, you can have your students color the plate orange before gluing on the pictures.

5.  Frankenstein
Materials needed: paper plate, white construction paper (eyes), black construction paper (hair, eyeballs, mouth, screws), green copy/construction paper

Print a set of cards on green paper (initial /f/ featured).  Cut the paper plate in half, and glue the green pictures all around the half plate.  Cut the hair from black construction paper and glue (I just drew “humps” for lack of a better term, across a sheet of black construction paper, and cut out several strips at a time, and just cut them down to size based on the length of the paper plate).  Glue on a small black rectangle for the mouth, white and black circles for the eyeballs, and black screws on the side of the head.

I would suggest cutting all of the extra pieces (hair, eyes, mouth, screws) ahead of time, and cutting several at a time.

6. Fire Truck
Materials needed:  paper plate, red copy/construction paper, black construction paper (wheels)

October is fire safety month! This would also be great for a transportation or community helpers unit.  This one is made the same way as the school bus listed above, just with red paper.  I used the fire safety Cariboo cards to make this one.

7.  Owl
Owls just always remind me of Fall!
Materials: yellow and black construction paper, brown copy/construction paper

Optional: Having your students color the paper plate brown before gluing.

8.  Pumpkin Pie
Materials needed: Paper plate, brown copy/construction paper, cotton ball
Optional: A real slice of pie because you’ll probably be hungry after making so many, and you should probably just #treatyoself (Any Parks & Rec fans reading this?!) after all of your hard work.

Cut the paper plate into a triangle and glue on the brown pictures (/sp/ and /st/ cards featured).  Top with a cotton ball in the middle of “whipped cream” and you have a super cute Thanksgiving craftivity! The Thanksgiving vocab cards would be perfect for this, too!

Winter/Spring Craftivities

1.  Christmas Wreath
Materials needed: Paper plate, green and red copy/construction paper
You may have seen this craft previously posted on my Instagram page, but I love it! I took a paper plate, folded it in half, and cut out the middle circle.  I printed the target pictures (in this instance, Christmas vocab cards) on green paper, and printed a black/white image of a bow onto red paper.  Glue the green pictures all around the plate edges, and glue the red bow at the bottom when you’re done!

2.  Hot Cocoa Mug
Materials needed: blue construction paper, cotton balls
This one is great to use at any point in Winter! I cut out a large rectangle from blue construction paper as the base of the mug, and then cut out a skinny half circle for the handle to glue onto the side.  Glue on the blue pictures (initial /t/ cards for ‘backing’ featured) that you printed either on blue construction paper or copy paper, and then glue the cotton balls at the top for the whipped cream.

3.  Polar Bear
Materials needed: paper plate, black/white construction paper, white construction or copy paper for pictures
This is a cute craftivity to make during an arctic animals unit!
4.  Valentine
Materials needed: pink construction/copy paper
Super simple! Just cut out a heart from pink construction paper and glue on the pink pictures of your choosing (Valentine’s card set shown here)

5.  Shamrock
Materials needed: green construction/copy paper
Again, super simple (drawing the shamrock to where the leaves came out evenly was the most challenging part- ha).  Print your pictures on green paper (I used the St Patty’s Day/”green things” set) and glue around the construction paper shamrock.
6.  Tree
Materials needed: paper plate, green paper, brown construction paper
Optional: color the paper plate green before gluing pictures on.
This craftivity is great for Earth Day, a plants/flowers unit, or any time in the Spring!  Cards featured: final /f/
7.  Flower
Materials needed: paper plate, green construction paper, pink (or any color you want your flower to be) paper
I printed the “Spring” vocab set onto pink paper for this one, and glued the pictures all around the paper plate.  I had cut out a strip of green construction paper for the stem, along with two green leaves, to glue onto the bottom of the paper plate, as well.  Another great craftivity for Earth Day, a plant/flower unit, or any time throughout Spring and Summer!
1- Use flimsier paper plates (ones with the ruffled/wavy lines around the edges) that fold easily– not ones with the raised edges.  This will make it easier to cut the plates when needed, and to stick pictures along the edges.
2- Prep the extra pieces ahead of time, and cut several at a time.  Fold construction paper into at least halves (or use a few sheets at once) when cutting pieces with scissors or with your die cut machines at school/at the clinic.  Cutting out multiples at once saves time in general, and cutting them ahead of time saves you time during your session.
I love using craftivities in speech and incorporating the targets we worked on, because it lets the parents know what we worked on, so they can reinforce at home, too.  My Pre-K kiddos always loved going back to their classroom to show their teachers, too, so that was yet another person to ask them about what they’re practicing, and get that reinforcement/generalization.  Win win! 

What’s In Your Cart Link-Up

The big Back to School TpT Sale is just about here, and I am SO excited! I love getting to stock up on great materials from my other blogger friends to kick-start the new year! I’m linking up with Jenna at Speech Room News to share some materials from both my store, and materials from others’ TpT stores that I have either purchased in the past and love, or ones that I plan to purchase this upcoming sale!

From my store…
1- All About Me/Back to School Dot & Dough:
Get your first week of baseline data using these fun playdough and dot marker pages that your students will LOVE! If you use 3-ring page protectors rather than laminating, this pack is essentially no-prep (other than sliding pages into the page protectors!)- even better!

You can target vocabulary, object functions, WH questions, categories, pronouns, -ing verbs, and basic concepts with these pages, as well as open-ended pages for targeting other goals. 

2.  Woof! A dog-themed unit
Pictured: Category sorting, open-ended playdough page, and Cariboo spatial concepts
This unit has helped me through a jam with super shy kiddos more than once– I was able to get those kiddos to warm up and feel comfortable talking to me during evaluations much more quickly with puppies, because who doesn’t love puppies, #amiright?! Ha.
With this unit, you’ll have activities to target SO MANY goals- receptive/expressive category sorting, pronouns/’be’ verbs/-ing verbs with dogs doing different actions, spatial/qualitative/quantitative basic concepts with graphing pages and adorable Cariboo cards, interactive WH question books, and dot marker pages to target WH questions about dogs!  There are even several open-ended activities to use with any goal.

My own two dogs, Molly and Bruce, approve of this unit, and the interactive books based on them (and how do you disagree with two sweet faces like those?! ;-))
From my other blogger friends’ TpT stores!

These look SO cute, and I am all about making my organizational materials look pretty! It helps keep me motivated to be organized if I can be organized with #alltheprettythings
I haven’t purchased any of these yet, but plan on it this go around.  I love the unique-ness of her interactive books, and that you can target a variety of goals with the books.
I own the “what” and “where” books, and plan to pick up the “who” book, as well! These are great for teaching the concept of those tricky WH questions, and I love that I can target pronouns, ‘be’ verbs, and action words with the “what doing” book to meet the needs of other kids on my caseload, as well.
Never have I ever used an interactive book so frequently as I have this summer with my new caseload πŸ™‚ Music is the way to many of their hearts, so we’ve done quite a few renditions of Wheels on the Bus.  I’ve been able to target some core vocabulary with AAC devices by having something tangible paired with the song, too!

This. Is. Amazing.  I can’t even tell you how much use I’ve gotten out of this.  There are enough icons in here to be able to put together a PECS book, and I love the core/fringe vocabulary file folder sets.  You’ll also get visuals for some different “snacktivities” along with visual schedules, a couple social stories, and “I am working for” templates.  If you have kiddos with Autism on your caseload, you NEED this!

What are you looking forward to purchasing this sale? Click the image below to find others who have linked up to Speech Room News to share what they are purchasing this sale!

Cariboo: The game that keeps on giving!

I’m sure if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, or have ventured to my TpT store, you know that I love Cariboo (I even made a new, additional vocabulary set this summer!).  I previously wrote a post on how I use Cariboo cards and also how I store my different card sets.  Cariboo was always my go-to game with my preschool population at my school job, but I left my school job and started a new job this summer where my caseload has been all Autism, at a Center that provides services for ages birth-6 years, in a classroom/outpatient therapy combo model.  The kiddos I’m seeing and the service delivery model are pretty different from what I was used to at my school job so I’ve had to change up my therapy a bit!

However, Cariboo is still one of my go-to activities. It’s the game that just keeps on giving to me πŸ™‚ So, in this post, I wanted to share how I’ve been using it with my new caseload!

1.  Speech Generating Devices
I’ve been trialing the iPad as a communication device for 2 of my kids, and one of them LOVES Cariboo.  With his device, we’ve been able to use core words such as “I” “you” “go” “want” “in” “out” “turn” “more” and “finished”/”all done.”  I’ve also been modeling two word utterances on the device; for example, the Cariboo balls “go+in,”  we “take+out,” “put+in,” “I+go” “you+go” “want+turn” etc…

One day, I didn’t have Cariboo out, but the day before, we had been practicing “I go” “you go” and “want.”  My little guy looked around and spotted Cariboo on the back counter, then used his device to say “want” “go” “want” “go” “want” “go” and then looked at me.  I said, “Oh, we practiced those words yesterday when we played Cariboo– is that what you want to play?” and he nodded his head yes! #proudSLPmoment

2.  Picture exchange 
A couple of my kiddos are using a picture exchange system to communicate, and using an icon of the Cariboo key is a way we can practice requesting an object while playing this game.

3.  Verbs
One of my more verbal kiddos is working on using 2-3 word verb phrases, so we’ve been working on verbs that are more core-word based, like “put” “take” “go” “see” “want” “turn” and “open” (ie “put in” “put ball in” “take out” “take ball out” “I go” “you go” “see ball” “I see ball” “my turn” “open box” “I want”).

In a few weeks, we’re going to start working on labeling verbs, as well, and my new add-on set for Cariboo includes 90 different verb cards that we’ll be able to mix and match as needed! This one below is from the camping-themed verbs set.

4.  Social Communication

One of my kiddos is verbal, but isn’t yet using language spontaneously (and consistently) for purposes other than protesting, requesting, or labeling.  We’re working on making comments to others and acknowledging others’ comments, and a turn-taking game like Cariboo is perfect! We’ve been working on making comments like, “Look!” “I got one!” “I found it!” “It’s a (color) ball” “It’s my turn” “It’s your turn” “Good job”  “You got one!”  etc…  (For the freebie communication board seen in this picture, check out this post from Speech Room News)

Do you love Cariboo as much as I do? What’s your favorite way to use the game?

Teddy Talker: A Review

I had the pleasure of meeting Linda Siciliano, the author of Creative Speech Products and creator of the Teddy Talker toolkit, at the ASHA convention last November.  Linda is one of the nicest people I’ve spoken to, and she was gracious enough to send me a Teddy Talker starter kit to review! I was super excited about it, not only because it seemed perfect for preschool with the teddy and all of the visuals that my little guys often needed, but because she was so passionate about her product, as well!

The Teddy Talker foundational kit comes with an instructional booklet that gives you a quick introduction of the kit, and also gives a step-by-step example of how to introduce and use Teddy Talker.  

It starts with…
1.  Introducing the letter/sound relationship
2.  Articulating the sound
3.  Describing the movement of the sound (The example they gave for /s/ was “Let’s teach Teddy to smile as air tickles down his tongue”)
4.  The adult modeling the “construction” of the articulators using the felt pieces (first using the pieces and making the sound in the air, and then secondly placing them on Teddy’s mouth on the board while making the sound again)
5.  Guiding the child to teach Teddy him/herself
6.  Letting the child teach Teddy him/herself
7.  Review the letter-sound relationship
8.  Give concrete feedback (ie describing what the child did to help Teddy learn his sound)

The kit comes with the following materials: Teddy Talker board, puppet tongue, felt mouth pieces, cues, speech bubbles, letters, carrying tote, and instructional manual.

Mouth Pieces:
Visual cues are helpful for everyone, but especially our kiddos with delays.  Teddy Talker comes with mouth visuals for every phoneme, and the instruction manual that comes with the kit includes a chart of which pieces are used for which sound(s).  You manipulate these to show the positioning of your lips and teeth for each phoneme, and have the child manipulate these on the Teddy board, too, to “teach” Teddy how to make the sounds.

Some of the pieces are whole pieces while some sounds are separate with top/bottom lips, as the tops and bottoms are used for several different sounds. I sometimes had a hard time remembering exactly which pieces were paired with each phoneme, without having the book on hand.  However, I just put scotch tape on the backs of the pieces, went through the chart, and wrote down all the phonemes that corresponded to each piece– problem solved!

I also love the additional “breath” visual, as it helps distinguish between /p, b/ sounds vs /m/, for example, where the lip positions are the same for all 3 sounds.


Oh how I love bowties!

The green and red bowties are both fun AND functional visuals for the concept of voiced/voiceless sounds!  The green represents voiced consonants, while red represents turning your voice “off” to produce a voiceless consonant.

I’ve had several kids on my caseload over the years who couldn’t produce voiceless consonants like /p, t, k/, but could produce the voiced cognates of these sounds.  When this is the case, I typically would have them first start with the voiced cognate, and then tell them to turn their voice off and whisper it, so that they would produce the voiceless phoneme.  I love having the red/green visuals of the bowtie right at the throat area as a visual of what you’re supposed to do with your voice. Great visual for a sometimes tricky concept!

The preschool teachers at the school I worked at always did a great job of giving the kids a lot of exposure to letters and letter sounds.  With the links between speech sound disorders and potential early literacy delays, having a visual of the corresponding grapheme is great for additional exposure while you’re teaching speech sounds! The kit comes with a speech bubble on which to place the phoneme you’re teaching, and the speech bubble then goes on the Teddy Talker board.


Tongue Puppet:


While the felt pieces allow you to manipulate the lips/teeth combinations, the tongue puppet allows you to have a visual/kinesthetic cue of what the tongue does inside of the mouth for each phoneme. This component was really helpful at the preschool level for showing the difference between /k, g/ and /t,d/.

Mouth Position Rhyme Cards:

I just love these rhyme cards! The depictions of articulator placements are clear and easy to understand for both parent and child, while they’re also visually appealing!


The front of the cards depict oral placement for the sound, paired with the grapheme, while the back has a short rhyme about the sound! These would be great for parents to use in a home practice program.  The digital version of the mouth pieces, rhyme cards, and grapheme cards are available on the Creative Speech Products website, too, which makes using these in a home program a piece of cake!

Applications to Therapy:
Whole Group: Although I didn’t run any whole group times at my school, I definitely see Teddy Talker as a great tool to use if you are doing an in-class whole group literacy lesson! Most preschool classrooms have a “letter of the week” that they are teaching.  I envision starting the lesson by talking about that letter, the sound it makes, and using Teddy Talker as a visual while introducing those concepts and how to make the sound.  You could then read a sound-loaded storybook that focuses on that particular sound (Speech Sprouts and Speechy Musings both have lists to help you find some!).  I’d follow that up with a hands-on activity related to the book and letter/sound, and end with a quick review of the letter name and sound it makes using the Teddy Talker visuals!

Small Group:  If you are a school-based SLP fortunate enough to have a group of kiddos all working on the same sound(s), Teddy Talker is a great tool to use in your therapy sessions! I didn’t use it as frequently with my groups of 3-4 preschoolers, because I only had 15 minutes with them and many times, my groups were mixed with kids working on different targets- I’d have one kiddo who was only working on /k, g/, another working on 2 syllable words from the Kaufman Kit, and another working on s-blends.

However, given additional time (like my 30 minute sessions with only 2 itinerant students at a time), Teddy Talker worked out great.  I just felt like when I only had 15 minutes (10 realistically, by the time I hit each classroom and got them out to the pod area and sitting down, and introduced what we were working on), with those very mixed groups, switching out pieces 3 times didn’t feel like an efficient use of our brief time.  So, it’s not something I could use all day with every group, but definitely a tool to utilize in parts throughout the day!

Centers/Stations/One-on-One:  If you have your groups set up as centers/stations around the room, where they rotate every x amount of minutes and one of those stations is one on one work with you, you could definitely use this kit even with different sounds, as you would only be potentially switching out the mouth pieces once each rotation, rather than every turn like in a traditional artic group.  

Final Thoughts:
With a caseload of 65+ and having mostly 15 minute sessions, realistically, I just couldn’t follow every component–namely, guiding the child to teach Teddy and then letting the child teach Teddy him/herself.  When working with kids one on one like in private practice or clinic/outpatient setting, this component is a great teaching tool, though.  I’ve been using Teddy Talker with one of the kiddos I’m seeing for private therapy this summer and have had him “teaching” Teddy with the felt pieces, too!  He loves the hands-on learning involved in this portion! However, when I was using it at school, in order to maximize our time, I was the one who did most of the articulatory placements with the felt pieces (the exception being my itinerant kiddos who would come for 30 minute sessions). I still feel like my students benefited from the visuals this kit provided, though, even if most of them weren’t manipulating the pieces themselves.

As a whole, though, I have LOVED using Teddy Talker! I love all of the visuals and the rhymes that go with them, and that it includes components that are really useful in home programs.  Especially at the preschool level, parents typically want to be really involved, so I really appreciate having cards available that provide parents with the same visuals and verbiage that is being used in therapy.  I think Teddy Talker would get the most use from private practice/clinic/outpatient therapists, but it definitely still has applications to school-based therapists, especially those doing whole group literacy lessons or those who have their therapy room set up as rotating centers!

You can find all of the Teddy Talker materials on the Creative Speech Products website, along with a video demonstrating use of Teddy here!

Outer Space Speech & Language

Towards the end of the school year, we did an Outer Space theme in some of the preschool classrooms.  With it being the end of the school year AND testing week for the classroom teachers, it was a crazy week so I opted for activities that kept it simple!

With my speech kids, we made aliens with paper plates and target words printed on green paper.

I used pictures from my Cariboo phonology set, as well as from Primary Punch’s No-Prep Apraxia set, so that I had a variety of pictures for all of my artic, phono, and apraxic kiddos!  I printed these on green printer paper to make the base of the alien face.

If you have a die-cut machine at your school/clinic, making the eyeballs are super easy, too!

Our space-themed sensory bin was a huge hit, too! (You can find the free printables here)

It was great for my articulation/phono kids working on blends, using words like star, space, sky, fly, planet, gravity, and blast, but was also really engaging for my language kids, too! We talked in simple terms about what gravity is/does, how planets rotate around the sun, what was special about certain planets (like the rings of Saturn), where/when you see the moon and stars, how astronauts get to outer space, etc…

My favorite conversation all week went like this:
Me: How do you know so much about outer space?!
5 year old: Because I’ve been to outer space!
Me: Oh yeah? How did you get there?!
5 year old: With a rocket ship
Me: (laughing) Where did you get a rocket ship?!
5 year old: From the rocket store

..I mean, I feel like that’s a pretty legitimate answer for his story πŸ™‚

As much as I loved the sensory bin, though, the alien sensory bags were my FAVORITE!

I was fortunate in that one of my prek teachers had green hair gel in her cabinet, so we used that up first (by the way, Tina, I still owe you 4 or 5 bottles of hair gel!).  Once we ran out of that, we used clear hair gel with a couple drops of green food coloring.

We sorted googly eyes by small/medium/large sizes, and also targeted following directions by having students pick a certain number of a certain size eye to put in their bag each turn (ie “Put 3 small eyes in the bag”).  After their hair gel and eyes are in the bag, they can squish the hair gel to move the eyes around.  Be sure to use duct tape or packing tape to seal off the opening of the bag when you’re done so nothing accidentally explodes in their backpacks!

What are some of your favorite things to do for outer space week?

April Showers: Using water in speech/language therapy

I am excited to be linking up again with The Frenzied SLPs group today to bring you a series of posts on using water activities in therapy! I think you will really enjoy the wide range of ideas we have for you πŸ™‚

I just recently tried out a new activity with one of my little guys with Autism who is working on requesting. He really likes art activities, so we used some coffee filters and dot markers to stamp all around the filter.  The color bleeds through, so be sure to have something underneath the filter, like a tray of sorts!  I had him request different color dot markers using a color strip from Felice’s (The Dabbling Speechie) AAC Starter Pack (which I use all. the. time.  Worth every penny!).   I love seeing him being able to verbalize things like “I want blue!” and “Green marker!” with some visual supports in front of him πŸ™‚

After you stamp the coffee filter, you take a spray bottle with water, and spray the filter several times.

The colors should all bleed together when wet.  Ours didn’t come out *quite* how I anticipated (we didn’t fill up enough of the filter with color, I think), but 3 year olds don’t really care about the end result- just the process!

With kiddos working on requesting, you can request with the spray bottle, in addition to colors, too.  Have them either choose the spray bottle icon to request it each time, or, for those who are a little higher level, you can have them choose a number for the number of sprays they get each time (options of just 1 or 2 is probably ideal so you get more trials in!)
For more coffee filter art ideas, do a quick search on Pinterest!
What ways do you use water in therapy? Be sure to read through the other Frenzied SLPs posts, and link up if you have a blog! We would love to hear your ideas, too!
PS- For another water-themed activity, pop over to this post to see my rain/cloud/rainbow sensory bin with a free activity download!

Rainbow Sensory Bin

Thanks to Felice at Thedabblingspeechie, I’ve been inspired to create some new sensory bins for my kiddos.  This past week at school, we’ve been doing a weather theme with the A.M. classrooms and my preschoolers LOVED feeling the materials in this weather-themed sensory bin while working on basic concepts, as well!

I bought some blue glass stones from the floral section of Dollar Tree and put those on the bottom as “rain drops.”  I bought one bag, but probably could have used another to fill out the bottom a little more! I placed cotton balls on top of the stones as the “clouds,” and then put my cut-in-half rainbow cards in the bin, dispersed among the clouds.

I had my students pull out one card at a time and we identified the concept (β€œIs coffee hot or cold?”) and then placed it on the table. As students took turns, if an opposite was pulled from the bin that matched a previously-chosen opposite card, I had them find the friend who had a matching card (β€œDoes anyone have the opposite of β€˜big?’ Big and….” They would then match up each side of the rainbow to make a full rainbow, and we left the rainbow sets in the middle of the table. 

The activity was a hit so I wanted to share it with all of you! I made a set with clouds instead of rainbows, as well, in case you need cards with less visual stimuli.  Download it for FREE here in my TpT store!  Happy Spring! πŸ™‚

“Sweet” Activities for Speech and Language

Valentine’s Day always falls around the week of parent/teacher conferences in my district, so I don’t typically get to do much therapy around the theme of this holiday.  The week leading up to Valentine’s Day only has one full day of therapy for prek, with the second day including the classroom Valentine’s party for the last hour of each half day session.  We then have parent/teacher conferences and inservices all day Wednesday/Thursday, so I essentially only have a day and a half of therapy to squeeze in Valentine activities.  We did manage to squeeze in a couple fun activities, though, so I wanted to share them with you!

First up is an articulation activity we used to target blends.  We used the conversation hearts and “STacked” them to practice ST blends.
The kids would say “stack a blue” or “stack a green” etc.. with whatever color they were adding to the tower.  I have quite a few phono kids working on marking /l,r/ blends, as well, so “green” and “blue” were great target words, too!  You could also target /k, g/ sounds with “stack” “pink” and “green.”  Another fun way to target /g/ would be to have a little competition where the student(s) working on /g/ say “GO” and you see who can stack the most hearts in 1 minute.  
Seasonal erasers are the best! I bought these at Target in the $1 bin, and they have so many uses! I typically use them for Bingo or for roll & cover pages (Mindy at The Speech Bucket has great freebie packs of seasonal roll & cover/color page- click here for the Valentine edition, and Meredith at Peachie Speechie also has fun seasonal roll and cover/color “100” challenge pages that you can use these with- click here for her Valentine edition.
For my in-class small group rotations, I did a science experiment called “Dancing Hearts” that uses the conversation candy hearts.   I followed instructions from Playdough to Plato’s post, using a glass, candy hearts, alka seltzer, and sparkling water.  The combination of Alka Seltzer and sparkling water creates gas bubbles that make the hearts float up and then sink back down when the gas bubbles pop.  The bubbles are constantly forming and popping, so it looks like the hearts are “dancing” as they move up and down.  
Before we started, we made a graph of our predictions re: which color hearts would stay at the bottom and which would float and move to the top.  Afterwards, we got started with the experiment.  I brought the crushed alka seltzer tablets to the classroom in a baggie and the kids each took turns pouring some of it in.  They each picked a color heart to put in, and then each poured a little bit of sparkling water into the glass.  It takes a minute for the hearts to start moving, but the fizzing up of the glass keeps them entertained enough and talking in the meantime πŸ˜‰ 
I had various results with this experiment in each classroom (though the pink ones consistently floated!), but the kids ooh-ed and ahh-ed over it regardless of how many candies actually moved. When you pour the sparkling water in, it fizzes up and the glass is FULL of bubbles, which got them SO excited about the experiment! One of my kids turned around and was shouting at his friends across the room at a different table because he was beside himself with excitement! Haha.
TIP: I would suggest crushing up the alka seltzer tablets ahead of time at home (putting them in a plastic baggie and crushing with a hammer would probably be easiest).  My para and I crushed them at school and it looked like an episode of “Breaking Bad”  all over my therapy table in my room when we were done! Ha ha.  
What fun activities did/do you use for Valentine’s-themed therapy?

Popper Toys

You guys. How have I gone so long without popper toys in therapy?!  I am in love with the pig and penguin poppers I got for Christmas, and so are my students. We had to set some ground rules at first– you know, things like “We don’t aim the ball at teachers or our friends” and discussions of, “No, the animals are not “farting” or “pooping” but are just blowing out of their mouth.” (Sigh.. little boys and their early obsessions with bodily functions.. ha ha).  Once the ground rules were set, though, the poppers have been a HUGE hit in therapy over the last few weeks!

Initially, I just thought they’d be fun as a reinforcer.  Turns out, they’re good for a lot more than that! Below, I’ll share some different ways I’ve used the poppers!

1.  Articulation
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw this recent post:

One of the first activities I did with the popper was put some artic cards up on my door and have kids aim the popper at a card of their choosing.  For mixed groups, I designated each student a color and they had to aim for their color when it was their turn.  My particular poppers also work great for /p, b/– ball, pop, penguin, and pig! You can use a carrier phrase like “Hit the ___” or “Pop the ___” when you aim at cards, too.  Carrier phrases are a great strategy to use with apraxic kids or your artic kids working at the phrase level.

(PS– Lisette from Speech Sprouts had an AWESOME idea to practice the /p/ sound with her poppers- check it out on Instagram!)

2.  Pronouns
I’ve stuck pronoun cards on the door, too, to work on “he,” “she,” and “they.”  BUT, I’ve also worked on that pesky “I” (If you gave me a dollar for every time I heard “my” or “me” instead of “I” in preschool… Well, I’d have enough to buy myself a couple Starbucks beverages on a daily basis ;-)).  You can have students aim at cards on the door, or, depending on the room setup, you can aim at different objects around the room- posters, the door, cabinets, a chair, etc…. and have them say “I’m aiming at ___”

OR, you can decide to designate your popper animal as a female or male, and practice using he/she.  For instance, “He hit the ___”  This would be an easy way to work on pronouns in a mixed group with artic students without having to get out extra materials (because, in the words of Sweet Brown.. “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”)

3.  Increasing MLU
There are so many short 2-3 word phrases that you can incorporate while using the poppers with your late-talkers that may only be using single words…
“My turn” / “Your turn”
“Ball please” “Pig (or whatever your popper is) please”
“Ball in” “Put ball in” “Pop out” “Pop ball out”
“Green ball” “Black ball” (or whatever color balls come with your popper)
“Pop pig” “Pop penguin” “Pop ball”
“Hit ___”

4.  AAC- Core vocabulary
You may have seen this idea on my Instagram, too– I used the poppers in conjunction with AAC with one of my nonverbal kids, and oh man, did he LOVE it! We targeted “in” to put the ball in the mouth, but you could also target core words such as: out, my/my turn, want/want turn, go, put/put in, more, and play.  My one little guy kept verbally saying “ooooh!” and “whoah!” when we played– it was the most verbal I had heard him all school year!

I’ve also used the poppers with students using PECS.  They had to exchange a picture of the ball in order to get one to place in the popper’s mouth.  It’s a highly motivating activity, trust me!

Which one is your favorite popper animal? Have you used them any other ways besides the ones I’ve listed? Let me know in the comments below!

PS- An exclusive, behind-the-scenes shot (I know- you’re really hitting the jackpot with this one- ha!) of trying to take a photo of the poppers at home, with Bruce, one of my dogs, who just wants to play with them SO badly but was already told “no.”  Hilarious!  #puppylife #rufflife

PPS- A couple days after I had to tell my dog not to play with them, my husband came upstairs with one of them and shot it at me while I was working on this post– Popper toys are fun for both dogs and humans…kids and adults.. a multi-faceted toy anyone can enjoy! πŸ˜‰