My August/September Amazon Favorites!

Monday, October 14, 2019
October is here and I am so excited! This is my favorite time of the year. So many fun holiday activities and the weather is just beginning to change. With the start of the school year about 2 months behind us, I finally had time to sit down and compile a list of my recent Amazon favorites for your viewing pleasure! This month was mainly personal items but quite a few that can also be used in therapy... check it out :)
This post contains Amazon affiliate links for your convenience. This means if you purchase something using my link, I may make a small commission. 

First up is this Melissa and Doug cash register. Last week I posted about our grocery store that my kids created in their playroom. This is the cash register I bought them for their store. It works like a real calculator and comes with dollar bills, coins, and a credit card. You can check the whole post out, here.

Next up is a weighted blanket, a chewy jewelry necklace, and a visual timer. Would you believe that none of these items are for work? These 3 items were all purchased for Kenzie, my daughter. She seems to have some difficulty with sensory processing, especially lately, so I bought all of these for her. The necklace is great because it doesn't look like the traditional chewy jewelry. She isn't embarrassed to wear it because there is an adorable unicorn on it! So far it has really helped her at school. 
The Time Timer has been used in the morning when getting ready for school. It's helping both of my kids understand the concept of time better and getting them ready quicker. They know that once the red is all gone on the timer, it's time to get in the car and head to school. They always want to watch TV in the morning so now they can better independently manage their morning without me constantly giving them a countdown. 

Weighted blankets have been proven to help both kids and adults sleep better and reduce stress/anxiety because of the deep pressure it gives. I read a ton of reviews before deciding which blanket to get. I love this one because it comes with a super soft cover and at $39 the price is incredibly reasonable. Kenzie doesn't like it to sleep, but she uses it before bed when reading to calm down and relax before lights out. 
I have still been trying hard to keep my new year resolution of reading a new book a month. This month I have been reading What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst. In this book, Lysa talks about walking in faith and embracing the path He has for you. They say when you make plans, God laughs. It's so true. I am trying to release the control I have on my life and follow the path meant for me. 

Anyone else leopard obsessed right now? I am loving leopard print. Last month I added these leopard sneakers to my leopard collection! They are Dr. Scholl's brand so they are incredibly comfortable. I get compliments on them every time I wear them! 

And last but not least, who doesn't need a wristlet keychain? I was always losing my keys in my therapy bag, so this was my solution! My husband thinks it's ridiculously large but I love it! 

Thanks for reading! If you have any awesome Amazon finds, please share in the comments :)

DIY Grocery Store FUN!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

In a time where tablets, television, and video games are taking over, I love seeing my kids get creative when they play. A few weeks ago, Kenzie had a friend over and they created a grocery store in the back playroom. It was simple and consisted of a sign, some plastic food, and Kameron's tool stand. Over the past few weeks that grocery has grown leaps and bounds. I am so excited to share it with you!

Since the day that the grocery store was born, Kenzie and Kameron have been on a constant hunt for more items to add to their store. When the kids were little, we frequented a local children's museum. One of their favorite parts of the museum was the pretend Publix grocery store. The museum used recycled boxes of real grocery store items... anything from cereal boxes to laundry soap. They would wrap them in clear packing tape to give it a little more durability. That inspired me to start saving boxes of food after they were used up. I taped them up a bit and let the kids stock their own shelves! This is a great opportunity to talk to your kids about recycling and how to reuse items at home. 

As they got more and more into having their own store, I started looking for items for them. I started sharing their excitement for this mock supermarket! I found a great Melissa & Dough cash register on amazon. It works like a real calculator and comes with play money. I thought this would be a fun way to stat introducing different kinds of money, how to buy with cash (they usually see me using a debit card) and how to make change. A sweet friend of ours spotted this mini shopping cart for us (pictured above) at a local consignment shop and we snagged it right up! (Here is a link to the original one.)
What do you need after you have your grocery store all set up? Customers! The kids created a commercial and had me send it to their grandparents. Wouldn't you know that within the hour the kids had their first customers over shopping away! 
 While creating this grocery store with my kids I couldn't stop thinking about how great this would be for a speech room, a classroom, or for parents to make with their kids at home. It doesn't have to cost a thing, just save up your old food containers and set up shop on the floor or at the table. I love any opportunity I get to share with the families I work with that they don't need fancy, expensive materials to give their kids amazing language opportunities. This grocery store provides a TON of fun learning experiences through PLAY!
- Vocabulary
- Nutrition lessons
- Creating a grocery list
-Memory skills/following directions ("mommy needs cereal, oranges, and juice.")
- Asking questions ("Do you have any....?" "Where is the....?"
-Answering questions
-Social skills (greeting other, asking questions, engagement, etc)
- Food groups
-Health vs unhealthy choices

 Whitney, from WhitneySLP on TpT and the Let's Talk blog created an adorable Grocery Store Dramatic Play printable set that is perfect!! It includes name tags, coupons, signs for each food category, Employee of the Month signs (my kids quickly added their own photos to that one!), grocery lists, open signs, and more!! You can check it out, here.

Sleeping with the Fish at the Florida Aquarium!

Thursday, September 19, 2019
Last month Kenzie's Girl Scout troop got to spend the night at the Florida Aquarium! Their troop did so amazing with cookie sales that this was one of the activities they decided to spend their money on. This was an amazing experience for the girls! I am so excited to share it with you. Big thanks to my sweet friend, Erika Johnson, for these amazing photos of the girls.
We arrived at the aquarium at 7:00pm, when the aquarium closed so we could see some amazing behind the scenes peeks! We dropped off our pillows and sleeping bags and played some games while waiting on the rest of the group to arrive. 

 After a quick review of the rules, they got to go on a tour of the Wetlands. The girls got to see and learn fun facts about the bids, alligators, otters, and snakes!
Our next adventure was a sea turtle rescue! The girls got a lesson on the different types of sea turtles and what makes them all unique. I had no idea there were so many different kinds of sea turtles! After that, they got to go into another room and "rescue" a turtle. They brought it to the table, made observations, measured the turtle, looked at x-rays, and determined if their turtle was healthy to be released. The girls completed a record sheet that the actual professionals complete when doing a rescue. 
 After a pizza snack, we went back inside the aquarium to check out more behind the scenes fun. We went on a tour of the aquarium kitchen and saw all of the different foods the animals eat and how they all have unique diets. 

 By 10:30 we were all exhausted! We grabbed our belongings and headed to our location to camp out for the night. I was so excited when I saw that we were sleeping in the room with the large tank. Getting to watch fish, sharks, and turtles swim around you all night is an absolutely amazing experience! 
The weekend before the sleepover, the girls had a tie-dye party and decorated pillowcases. They were all so excited to see their finished project before they went to sleep!
 The next morning we had to be early risers to get a few more things packed in before the aquarium opened. The girls ate breakfast and headed off to learn about snakes.
Next stop was the touch tank where the girls got to feel slimy sea anemones, spikey urchins, and star fish. 
They also got a chance to touch sting rays and jellyfish!

 This was such an amazing learning and bonding opportunity for the girls. It is something Kenzie (and I) will always remember. 

Photos by Erika Johnson

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!

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