Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Latest Trend in Behavior Management

A key component to a students' success in learning and reaching goals is behavior management. It's pretty close to impossible for a child to learn while they are yelling, screaming, and throwing a tantrum. Over the past 8 years I have paid close attention to fellow educators and their methods for maintaining positive behavior in their classrooms. I've spent countless hours on Pinterest perusing for the perfect method to the madness! In 2012 I became a mom and paid even more attention to strategies and ideas that I could use at home to encourage positive behavior. 
The end result has been treasure box, Brag Tags, clip charts, stickers, Class DoJo... you name it, I have tried it. They all have done the trick for a while, but the excitement eventually fades away. The one thing I have started looking for is a strategy that is highly motivating. Kids like things they can touch. They want to earn something they can hold, not just a green dot in their agenda for the day.
I recently learned about Loops Bracelets on social media and was eager to give them a try. They seemed to fit the description I was looking for: something tangible that was highly motivating and fun! If you haven't heard of Loops Bracelets, they are cool, affordable bracelets made from a soft material that is both water proof and tear resistant. I have had mine on for almost a week and it has withheld showers, giving the kids baths, and the little guy tugging on it! The bracelets come in a variety of colors and designs. How fun would these be to trade after you earned one (or 7!) for awesome behavior and meeting your goals in therapy?! 
Kenzie, my 4 year old going on 16, was super excited when my package of Loops came in the mail. I have been using them to reward positive behavior at home with her over the past week and I can tell you first hand, they are highly motivating! She even went to dance class last night excited to show off her new "paper bracelets" to all her friends! 
You can check out all the designs and learn more about Loops Bracelets by visiting their website, here. But guess what!? The amazing people from Loops want to give some of these fabulous bracelets to some of you! Go hop over to Instagram today (@simply_speech) for a chance to win! 
Contest ends Thursday, January 19, 2017!
Disclaimer: Loops Bracelets did provide me with a sample of the product in an exchange for a blog review, however, all opinions expressed in this post are my own. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Using Timers in Therapy and at Home!

Timers have been a saving grace for me as both a therapist and as a mom. I use a timer on a regular basis and for SO many reasons. In therapy I use a timer for keeping kids on track and focused on a task for a certain amount of time, for alerting me when the session is over, for alerting the students when their work time is up and they get the reward they were working for. At home I use a timer to help speed up my slow eater at dinner time when we have dance class in an hour, so my daughter will brush her teeth for more than 12 seconds, and so I don't burn dinner! It's a beautiful thing when you can use the techniques you use in therapy at home with your own children! 
I have used many different timers over the years, but I just recently learned about Outloud Timer 2 and I am in love. This timer is a visual timer. I have used a countdown timer before, but this one gives younger children that don't quite understand that concept a true understanding of time and how much time they have left on a task. 
When you open the app, it prompts you to set a time. This can be in minutes or seconds. After the timer is set, you will see an outdoor scene. You or the child can draw a path anywhere on the screen for the penguin to go. After the path is drawn, the penguin starts his journey to the circus tent!
I love this app because my daughter and students can really understand how much time they have left since they can see how fast the penguin is moving and how far away the penguin is from the tent while he/she is working. The number countdown is still available at the bottom right side of the screen, but where the penguin is on the screen is such as great visual for younger kids!
Once the timer is up, stars fly across the screen and the children will hear applause! 
The Outloud Timer2 app is available in the iTunes store. You can download it on both the iPad and your iPhone. I love having it on my phone for spontaneous needs of a timer! Check out more about this app in the iTunes store, here!
Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this app in exchange for a review, however, all opinions expressed in this review are my own. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Gone Fishin' for Good Speech!

Maybe it's just me, but I have a habit of rotating therapy games. Since I am a traveling SLP, I can't carry my entire inventory of games on me at all times (trust me, I have tried!) So I tend to carry the same game or two around with me for a few weeks before I switch it out for another. 
(This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. That means if you purchase something from Amazon using my link, I my earn a few bucks!)
Lately, this Let's Go Fishing game has been a HUGE hit and requested daily. When the kids love a game this much, my first reaction is to create an activity that will allow them to use the beloved game while working on their goals at the same time. 
So I created Gone Fishing for Articulation Mats! To play, have your students take turns fishing. When they catch a fish, have them put the fish on the mat on top of one of the target words. They can practice the word or make up a sentence for the word, depending on their skill level. But there really are a ton of ways you can use these mats, I have even used them as smash mats!
My daughter got this game for Christmas last year and loved it so much, I knew my students would too. I found the game on Amazon for $7.99! You can check it out, here.  Happy fishing!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Why I Love Smarty Symbols!

Visual supports are a huge part of my daily life. I use them with my children, my students, and even for myself. Like many of my students, I am a visual learner. Research shows that visuals help us retrieve and retain information better. Words are something that are abstract. So when we can provide a visual support for a child, they have a better chance of understanding the concept.
On a regular basis I use visual schedules and supports with my students. I enjoyed creating these to use in therapy, at school, to create activities for TpT, and visuals to use at home. The hard part has always been finding clip art that relates to the activities I need to add to the product. It's not so easy to find clipart out there for remembering to put the lid back on the peanut butter jar or going to speech therapy. Which is why I was so excited when I learned about Smarty Symbols.
Smarty Symbols is a huge library of symbols and images that teaches and therapists would use on a regular basis. And when I say huge, I mean huge. They currently have over 19,000 images available. I have used Smarty Symbols to create countless visuals for my students such as: 
-Visual reminders
-Classroom rules
-Sentence strips
-Therapy activities
-Vocabulary cards
-Step by step directions
...just to name a few
Smarty Symbols has been a great tool to have right at my fingertips. In addition to being able to create you own visuals on their website, there is an activity library where you can share and download materials other educators have created! It's a fantastic community of educators.
You can learn more about Smarty Symbols and their memberships by visiting their website, here. But guess what?! They are letting me give a 1 year personal subscription to Smarty Symbols to one of you! How exciting is that? Enter below, winners will be announced Monday!

Friday, October 28, 2016

My Favorite Therapy Game, KAPOW!

I am constantly on the hunt for any fun ways to get my students excited about therapy, especially articulation. I have a love/hate relationship with articulation therapy. There is so much room for creativity when planning your sessions, but the games and crafts can get old quick. 
(This post contains Amazon Affiliate links which means if you purchase something from my link, I may get a few bucks!)
For years I have been playing a game called Kaboom! If you haven't heard of it, it is simply a game that requires popsicle sticks and a container. Target words are written on the popsicle sticks. Students take turns choosing a stick out of the container (I use a recycled 32oz yogurt container.) If they say their word correctly, they keep the stick. If they don't they put it back. (Now here comes the fun part!) If they pick a stick that says KABOOM on it, they have to yell KABOOM and put all their sticks back. So simple, right? But I swear the kids LOVE this game and you can elicit SO many good speech sounds in a short amount of time... data win!! I did not come up with this game, another fabulously creative teacher did, but I have seen this game used for letters, sight words, addition facts... anything!
The best part about this game is that it can be used for SO many goals. The bad part about this game was that I was purchasing way too many sticks and running out of room to store them. You can check out my blog post about this game from 2013 here. This was when I first started using the game and my baggie method of organizing the popsicle sticks were working. Throw in some mixed articulation groups and 7 different Kaboom game versions and that method quickly failed me.
So flash forward to 3 years later and I finally came up with a way to organize my sticks. In fact, the new and improved game I now call, KAPOW! Only requires 25-30 sticks. I created target pictures/cards that I organize in a binder and attach to the sticks with velcro. (I bought a giant roll of velcro dots on Amazon for under $15)The game can be changed in a snap depending on what goal you are addressing.
I am so excited to have this new and improved version of the game and I am very excited to share it with you! You can download KAPOW from my TpT store by clicking, here! 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Earn CEU's From Your Couch with the Hanen Center

Raise your hand if the thought of earning enough CEU's by your deadline gives you a headache. Finding time to go to courses to earn credits needed can be challenging these days. I love being able to go and meet with other SLPs as we learn together, but that's not always possible. I am alway looking online for CEUs that are engaging and affordable. I am very excited to partner up with The Hanen Center again to share some great e-seminars they offer as a way to get CEU's!
If you have not heard of The Hanen Center, they are a non-profit organization who's mission is to provide parents, caregivers, and educators the training and knowledge to help children with language, social, and literacy skills.
Over the last few weeks I have been reviewing two of Hanen's online e-seminars:
Making Book Reading a Time for Interaction & Conversation and Making Words Sparkle for Preschool & Kindergarten Children: Bringing Vocabulary to Life During Book Reading and Daily Interactions.  I have been incredibly impressed with the seminars. One thing I really love when being in live seminars or watching online, is when the speaker shows video clips from therapy sessions of the techniques they refer to in action. There have been plenty of video clips in the two seminars I viewed. These seminars are presented by an SLP so they are full of valuable information that will benefit our field. It was so nice being able to sit down on the couch with a cup of coffee while the baby napped and earn continuing education credits.
If you visit the online training portion of the website, you can check out the entire list of e-seminars available that address language delay, autism spectrum disorder, and language & literacy. Each seminar is worth 0.2 CEU's. You have the option to view them live or recorded. As a working mom, finding recorded options is always a plus! 
Go check out their amazing resources, I would love to hear what you think of them. 
As an added bonus, use the code: SIMPLYSPEECH30 until to get 30% off the following seminars:
(Offer ends October 7, 2016)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Data Tracking Made Easy for the Traveling SLP!

Being a private SLP that travels to see children in their homes and schools definitely has it's perks. I love the one on one attention I can give each child. I also love being able to see them in their environment and really work on language experiences that are important to them. Plus, no car duty!
But like any good thing, there are also drawbacks. For example, today we are expecting a tropical storm and the roads are flooded. So I am home with a cup of coffee blogging... well I guess that's not such a bad day. But in all honesty, one thing that has been difficult for me is keeping good data records while being in a new place every hour. I really love when students can keep track of their own data. It gives them a sense of ownership and motivation towards their goals. When I was working in the schools I had data charts that the students worked on weekly displayed on the walls.  I can't really wallpaper my car with those. So after brainstorming ideas, I came up with mini goal tracking books!
 These goal books are small and kept together on a binder ring. But they pack all the punch of what I was missing from my classroom. On each data ring I have a graph for each individual goal I set for them as well as a written goal set by the student. The student set goal is probably my favorite page of the book. It gives me a really clear picture of why each child thinks that he/she is in speech and what is important to them to work on. Maybe it's working hard on their /r/ sound when they read out loud in class or maybe it's using good social skills at lunch. If it's important to them, it's important to me!
 The individual goal graphs have been a total timesaver when it comes time for re-evaluations. It's so convenient take out that particular student's goal book to report on goals. I have been guilty of falling into a rut of working on the same goals for a long time and neglecting others. Since each goal page has it's own page on the ring, it's very easy to see which goals still need to be addressed. Win, win!
Since these goal books are small, I have been able to keep them in a small container with a lid. That way they don't get messed up and don't take up much space while being stored in my car. 
You can download you own copy of these books in my TpT store, here!