Do You Want to be a Simply Speech Brand Ambassador?

Friday, July 19, 2019
I am so excited to announce that I am searching for BRAND AMBASSADORS for Simply Speech! Brand ambassadors are fellow SLPs, students, educators, and even parents that love using Simply Speech products with their students/children!

Who should apply to be a Brand Ambassador? The ideal brand ambassador is a speech language pathologist, graduate student, educator, or parent that enjoys and uses Simply Speech products with his/her students/children. Other TpT sellers are not eligible to be a brand ambassador for Simply Speech.

What will I need to do? As a brand ambassador, you will have FREE access to Simply Speech products of your choice in exchange for taking photographs of the products (staged or in use with students) and sharing them on your social media accounts.

How long will I be a brand ambassador? Each brand ambassador will be part of the Simply Speech team for 6 months. The first round will begin August 5, 2019!

How do I apply? To apply, simply send me an email with subject line: SIMPLY SPEECH BRAND AMBASSADOR and the following information:
1. Your name
2. Your email address
3. Occupation/population you work with/setting you work in
4. Why do you think you would be a great Simply Speech ambassador?
5. Your TpT username
6. Your Instagram name

Brand ambassadors will be notified July 26, 2019 of their selection. 

My June Amazon Favorites!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019
July has arrived and I cannot believe summer is more than half way over! I absolutely love summertime. I love not having to get my kids ready for school. I love working half days. I love having time to get all of those projects that have been piled up for months tackled! 
This post contains Amazon affiliate links for your convenience. This means that if you purchase something using my link, I may make a small commission. 
This month my Amazon purchases have been a little more for home than work. One of my big goals for the summer was to start de-toxing our home. In April I had a retenoid toxicity from a cream my dermatologist prescribed for me. It was a horrible experience until I figured out the retinoid was the root of my problems. I'm talking flu like symptoms, fevers, rapid heart rate, and depression. Since then, I have been very interested in how to make our lifestyle less toxic. One of the first things I did was buy an air purifier for our bedroom. My husband and I both have terrible allergies and I often wake up with a sore throat. After reading a TON of reviews, I ended up purchasing a Levoit air purifier. It has been great so far. I run it all night in our room. I haven't woke up with a sore throat in over a month!

Another item I tried to rid the house of is plastic (within reason, of course). I didn't realize how toxic plastic can be in the kitchen. I bought the kids stainless steel tumblers and straws. I also tossed all my plastic tupperwear and switched to glass storage containers. Again, after reading a bunch of reviews I went with the Bayco brand glass containers. These are so nice! Besides looking pretty, they have an airtight seal and keep our food better than the plastic ones did. I also bought wool dryer balls because I also learned that dryer sheets are like the most toxic thing in your house. How are we all still alive?! Next on my list will be tossing of all our old non-stick cookware (did you know how terrible that is for you?! I had no idea!) and switching to stainless steel cookware. If you are already in full speed with a toxic free lifestyle, I would love to hear any tips you may have!

In July, I love to use an Under the Sea/Ocean theme in therapy! (I will do an entire post on my ocean theme soon to show everything I use) A few of my items have been loved a little too hard and needed to be replaced. One was my 'Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea' book by Jan Peck. This book is awesome for preschool age students and oh so cute. I also needed to get more of the beach kinetic sand. I use this in my ocean sensory bin.

Summers in Florida require a lot of water activities. We don't have a pool but we do have a big backyard. Last year we purchased an inflatable waterslide for the kids' birthdays. We use this all the time! So this year I added an inflatable unicorn sprinkler because, why not?! This thing is amazing and under $40! Who wouldn't love a giant unicorn in their backyard?
I am about to wrap up 'Own Your Everyday' by Jordan Lee Dooley. This is another great book that encourages you to not compare yourself to others, that you can't do all the things, and to find joy in the little things that bring life to you. Clearly I have needed this reminder in 2019.

Last but not least, I ordered two of these button down tie tanks. I first ordered one in black and really loved it, so I ordered a green one as well. The quality is great and it's perfect to dress up or down this summer. And they're less than $16!

Don't forget, July 15 & 16 is Amazon Prime Day! There will be tons of good deals! Last year I bought a laptop backpack (that I love and use all the time!) and an Echo Dot speaker (Alexa) for the house. However, I have heard that a lot of therapists are using these in therapy! Do you have your eye on anything special to snag during Prime Day?

Using a Farm Theme in Therapy!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019
June has come to an end and we have just wrapped up our month long farm theme! 'On the Farm' may be one of my favorite themes. There is so much vocabulary and fun activities that you can do with farm animals! The kids have been so engaged this month and I am excited to show you what we have been up to!
This post contains Amazon affiliate links for your convenience. This means that if you purchase something using my link, I may make a small commission. 
First I wanted to share the books we have been reading. Some of my favorites are:
Ten Chirpy Chicks (this one must be out of print because it's listed for a crazy amount of money on Amazon. I linked a similar story instead)

What is a fun theme without a fun sensory bin?! For this one I used popcorn kernels and some squishy farm animals (that are actual bath toys!) This was great for imaginative, sensory play! These animals were also fun to use as characters in the stories we were reading. We used them with story retell and sequencing.  The are also perfect for working on prepositions (put the cow under the chair, on top of the box, etc) 
 I found this Farm Bingo game at Home Goods a few years back. This is a fun game that reinforces vocabulary as well as the opportunity to work on turn taking and social skills. I have also used the cards from the game for other activities. I found a newer version on Amazon for around $10. Check it out here!
 I had been on a hunt for a fun, interactive farm app. I downloaded a few different ones, puzzles, animal sounds, etc. but I really enjoyed the Peekaboo Barn app! I had used their Peekaboo Trick or Treat app in the past, so I knew my students would like this one, too. It was fun to use with the squishy farm animals and the String-A-Farm activity (which was a fun way to also work on fine motor skills) The wooden animals were also great for the sensory bin. 
Last but not least, we used My Little Farm so much over the past few weeks. I wrote an entire blog post about My Little Farm in May. You can check it out, here! This felt farm house is so much fun and so engaging. It's great for vocabulary, following directions, expressive language, receptive language, prepositions, sorting, etc. So much F U N ! 

I keep all of my thematic units in clear plastic bins for easy access and organization! I purchased my bins from Target and the labels I use are free in my TpT store. You can download them, here!
 Next up is our summer Under the Sea unit! 

My May Amazon Favorites!

Friday, June 21, 2019
It is no surprise that I have an incredible love for Amazon. 99% of my purchases are made from Amazon because it's just so convenient! I typically share my fun finds in my Instagram stories but figured I would start a monthly round up of them here on the blog, too. I am a little late with my May favorites list, but it was worth the wait because I now have an amazing graphic for these posts by the incredibly talented, Amanda Newsome of A Perfect Blend!
This post contains Amazon Affiliate links for your convenience. If you purchase something using my link, I may make a small commission. 
I used to use Amazon strictly for academic, work related, and therapy purchases. But recently I have found a love for their clothing items. Be sure to read the reviews for quality and sizing information, but they really have a great selection of clothing! My latest clothing purchase is this  twist knot waffle tank!  I bought it in the red color but I think I may need a few more colors!

I also bought these Blue Light Blocking glasses. I spend a lot of time at my computer writing reports, blog posts, and creating TpT products. My days were often ending with bad headaches. I heard about these glasses from another blogger and thought I would give them a try! I bought them in the leopard print. They are super cute (and nerdy in the best kind of way!) and have really helped with my headaches. 
I typically use a Farm Theme in therapy in June so in May I stocked up on a few extra farm toys! One activity I bought was the String-A-Farm toy. This is great for sequencing, following directions, and fine motor skills. 

I also bought some Squirting Farm Animal Bath Toys. These are fun to use for vocabulary, following directions (especially spatial concepts), and in sensory bins. 
I have been dying for an apple pen for my iPad but not willing to spend the money. After I recently saw one of Rachael's (from Texas Speech Mom) posts about her fine motor speech activity, I knew I needed one. So of course, I went to Amazon and found a great Stylus Pen for a quarter of the price of an apple pen. (My iPad case was also an amazon purchase, I know, shocker!) It comes in a ton of different color options. 

I have a lot of students this summer that are going into kindergarten or just wrapped it up. I wanted to find a fun way to work on letters and sight words so I snagged this bucket of Magnetic Letters and Numbers. Here are a few ideas on how I am using them this summer:
1. Matching letters/spelling articulation words/sight words with a magnetic cookie sheet.
2. Putting them in Easter eggs and hiding them.
3. Putting the letters in a sensory bin for the kids to search for and pull out.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know my love for books is deep. I recently just wrapped up, Brave Love. This is an inspiring story by Lisa Leonard. Lisa is a jewelry designer, a wife, and mother. One of her sons has special needs (if you follow her on Instagram you will learn lot about her sweet David). This is a very real, raw, and inspiring story of love and strength. Of the toll that is taken on your life when you don't make time for yourself and your own needs to be met. Lisa encourages us to learn how to love yourself for exactly who you are and who you were meant to be!

A personal buy I decided to treat myself with last month was this Jade Roller Massage Tool. A jade roller is used to tighten and de-puff your skin. I keep mine in the freezer and it feels amazing on my face and neck after a long day. They are under $14.00 and I highly recommend one of these for a little self care!

Why I Left My Job as a School Based SLP

Wednesday, June 19, 2019
A picture recently showed up in my Facebook memories of my old classroom cleaned out and empty with the caption that I was 'ready for the next chapter!' I can't believe that it's been 6 years since I left my job as an SLP in the school setting. I've mentioned that I left the schools many times over the years, but I've never really talked about why. I am often asked by graduate students why I chose to work in private therapy and or why my first job was in the schools. There are pros and cons to both job settings, and any job setting to be honest. But I wanted to share my story and why this path is the one I chose.

I graduated with my master's from USF in 2009. Before I even graduated high school I had decided on speech language pathology as my career choice. Growing up, I always wanted to be a teacher. When a close friend of the family was diagnosed with childhood apraxia of speech, his mother invited me to watch his therapy sessions at a local children's hospital. I fell in love with the field. It was still educational and with children but more specialized. I felt that working as an SLP in the schools was the perfect balance of my desire to be a teacher and an SLP.

I started working in the schools immediately after graduation. I was at a local elementary school. I shared an office with another amazing SLP who taught me so much. Things were great. I was loving my holiday breaks and summers off. I was also a big fan of being in the school setting and being able to collaborate with teachers and other professionals on a daily basis.

During my time in the schools I got married and we had our first child, Kenzie. At the time, Kevin was working nights. He was "daddy daycare" all day while I was at work then off to his paying job as soon as I got home until after midnight. I was the one up most of the night with the baby and then off to work in the morning. We were like ships passing in the night, giving high-fives to each other as we passed off the baby. We were both both burning the candle at both ends. Extremely exhausted and resenting each other because we each felt that we were more stressed and working harder than the other. It was time for a change.

During my time in the schools, I also started working for Elodie, another SLP who didn't quite have a a full blown company yet, but she was working on it. I saw a few kids after school for her a few days a week. One day she came over to bring me an evaluation that I needed for the next day and we got to chatting about life. How stressful things were and how I was in need of a change. She offered me to come work with her full time. My immediate response was no. I always wanted to be in the schools, why would I leave? But after a few more sleepless nights and stressful days, I decided to take her up on the offer. It was almost the end of the school year at this point and I gave my resignation. Actually, I gave a leave of absence because I was honestly a little afraid that private practice may not work out. I needed a back up plan. To be completely honest, I was sick to my stomach for weeks. I felt extreme guilt and fear. However, they say if your dreams don't scare you, they aren't big enough!

It's now been 6 years and I can confidently say I have never looked back or even considered going back to the school setting. The past 6 years have been such a growing and learning experience both personally and professionally. I was the first employee of a company which is now, TheraChoice. Elodie and I have grown TheraChoice into a company with over 20 SLPs and Occupational therapists. And after 5 years of only seeing children in their homes, preschools, and daycares, we just opened a clinic last summer. I love the flexibility of making my own schedule. Being able to rearrange my week so I can go on a field trip with Kenzie or stay home when Kameron is sick. I am able to work with a much smaller caseload because each child is seen one on one. I have made such amazing connections with families. I don't have to attend IEP meetings, do hours of paperwork each week, or be at car duty. That time is spent with my kids and with my family.

We are so lucky to be in a field that has so many options. Schools, homes, hospitals, private practice.... the list goes on. This was definitely the right option for me and my family. And I am so thankful for taking that leap of faith!

Summer Reading List!

Monday, June 17, 2019
This year I set a goal for myself to read one book a month. I have always loved reading but for some reason I always had trouble carving out time to read. When I tried to read at night, I fell asleep. I could never squeeze much time in the day to pick up a book either. So in January I decided I was going to wake up an hour earlier than my family, make some coffee, and cozy up with a book to get my day started. I have to tell you that it has been an amazing blessing to my life. I look forward to my quiet, slow time in the mornings. Since summer is upon us, and many of us look to summer to settle down with a good book, I wanted to share what I have read this year!
This post contains amazon affiliate links for your convenience. This means that if you purchase something using my link, I may make a small commission. 
January kicked off with the The Warner Boys. This book was written by professional football player, Curt Warner, and his wife, Ana. Many people don't know that of their 4 children, two of them are twins with autism. This is their incredible story of  raising the boys in a time when not many people knew much about autism and how to help them overcome their obstacles. It is truly a story of a family's love and dedication. 

Next up was The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner. This book gives you permission  to slow down and  to say, "no." (definitely something I struggle with) Jessica encourages you to stop the glorification of busy and find those "fringe hours" in your day to do things that fill your cup!

I loved The Fringe Hours so much, that I decided to read another one of Jessica Turner's books. Stretched Too Thin is a fantastic book for all working moms to read. We are constantly pulled in 536 different directions while managing a home, work, the kids, a marriage, friendships, and possibly a few minutes of self care. Jessica reminds us to not feel the "mom guilt" and instead gives us tips on working smarter! 
Ghost Boy is the incredible, true story of Martin Pistorus. In 1988 Martin came home from school and felt ill. His health continued to worsen until he eventually became a "hollow shell" that spent his days in a daycare center. Until one day, years later, when his mind woke up. He couldn't communicate that he was aware of what was going on around him because his body was still unresponsive. Martin has come a long way. His journey is definitely worth reading about. Reading Martin's story and how he learned to communicate was fascinating from an SLPs perspective!

Since April was Autism Awareness month, I decided to pick up Uniquely Human by Dr. Barry Prizant. I absolutely love Dr. Prizant's view on autism. He sees autism in a different way than most people do, in a positive way. He encourages us to work with their differences instead of trying to stop or to hide them. I highly recommend this book to any therapist, educator, student, or parent of a child with autism. Heck, anyone could benefit from his views!
"The best way to help a person with autism change for the better, is to change ourselves, our attitudes, our behavior, and the types of support we provide."-Dr. Barry M. Prizant

Present Over Perfect may be my most favorite book I have read this year. Maybe even ever. Have you ever read a book and thought, "Oh wow. She's taking about me. This is ME!" Present Over Perfect was that book for me. This is something I NEEDED to read. Needed to hear. I needed a reminder to stop running around a million miles an hour everyday to make others happy. Constantly people pleasing and allowing others to put more on my already overflowing plate because they know I won't say no (I told you earlier I had a problem with that!) I am very thankful for this book and the reminder to be present over perfect. 
If this sounds like a book you would like to read with a book club, Shauna has created a great study guide to go with the book. You can check it out here.
So if you haven't noticed yet, I have had a strong theme in books this year. Books that support inner peace, wanting less, being present, and being me.  Brave Love is another inspiring story by Lisa Leonard. Lisa is a jewelry designer, a wife, and mother. One of her sons has special needs (if you follow her on Instagram you will learn lot about her sweet David). This is a very real, raw, and inspiring story of love and strength. Of the toll that is taken on your life when you don't make time for yourself and your own needs to be met. Lisa encourages us to learn how to love yourself for exactly who you are and who you were meant to be. 
Last but not least is, Own Your Everyday. I have not yet read this one, it just arrived in the mail yesterday but I cannot wait to dig in! 
I would love to hear what you're reading this summer. What are some of your favorites?

Creative Craft Boxes!

Friday, June 7, 2019
 Summer has arrived! I am so excited to be working less and with my kids more. Summer time is such a sweet time of year for me and the kids. But, it's often difficult to keep them busy and entertained all summer. I was so excited when I learned about Creative Craft Boxes. Creative Craft Boxes were created and designed by a teacher and mom, Cristina. 
Cristina hand picks activities for these themed craft boxes, and you all know I love a good theme! The box we received was a spring theme but her July craft boxes are being released today! They are so stinking cute! You can check them out, here!
 These boxes come fully packed with all the instructions and materials needed for some creative play. My kids had so much fun creating rainbows, kites, a cloud necklace, and a spring scene.

 These activities allow for so many fun language opportunities. Since this was a spring theme box, there were lots of new spring vocabulary words we were able to talk about. In addition, you could work on requesting, descriptive words (the PlayDoh feels squishy!), following directions, sensory play, fine motor skills, and more. After all, learning through P L A Y is the best way to learn.
 These boxes would be so much fun for parents and therapists. And what a fun birthday gift would one of these boxes be?!

Make sure you follow Cristina to keep up with her new creative additions to her Etsy shop. You can find her on Instagram @creativecraftboxes!  
 Thank you Creative Craft Boxes for sponsoring this post!

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