Krismasi Njema!

Monday, December 19, 2011
Just in case you aren't fluent in Swahili, that means Merry Christmas! I hope you all are enjoying your holiday break as much as I am!! I don't plan on posting too much over the break, but this one is important to me :) Last week I had my students write holiday cards to a student in Africa! I sponsor a little boy names Jackson through the Cheti Sponsorship program.
Meet Jackson!


The Cheti School is in Tanzania, Africa. I first learned about Jackson from a friend of mine that went to Africa to teach English. While she was there, she helped start up a sponsorship program with the school. This program helps pay for the students to be able to go to school to get a good education and learn English. This is the second year I have sponsored Jackson. I get pictures and report cards from him. My students love to hear about him and get excited learning about him.
My friend, Jessica, who taught English at Cheti with Jackson
Jackson with his classmates

I have done this with my students for the past 2 years. It is a great learning experience for them! Before we made the cards, we looked on a map and located where we live and where Jackson lives. At first, my kids didn't understand how far away Africa was from America. (One of my students asked if Africa was by Tampa!) This activity lets them be creative as well as works on their expressive written language. Each student wrote a little about themselves and asked Jackson questions about him. They got really into making these cards! One of my groups even had me look up how to say certain words in Swahili!


This program is really great and has helped the school grow. If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please contact me for more information, visit the website Sponsor Cheti or check out their Facebook page!



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There Was an Old Lady...

Thursday, December 15, 2011
This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.
Not that I am counting or anything but... there are only 2 days until Winter Break!! Which means only hours left of fun holiday activities to do with the kids. I *love* all of the Old Lady books! If you have not read them yet, they are a series of silly short stories where an old lady swallows lots of things she should not! There are books for just about every holiday or season, too. This week I used There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell!

 In my last post, I gave you a link to a website that had a printable to go along with this story. I used the printable with my preK kiddos. After we read the story, they created their own books so they could retell the story themselves. I had the pages out of order on the table. They had to put the pages in order to go along with the book (sequencing!). Here are some other ideas to do with this book:

1. Before you read, ask your students to think if they have every ate something they should not have. How did it taste?

2. Let the kids looks at the cover of the book and make predictions about what the Old Lady will swallow.

3. If you have read any of the other Old Lady books in the past, see if the students can recall what she swallowed in that story.

4. Compare and Contrast!! Use a venn diagram to compare and contrast There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell and There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow. If the students are young, use pictures instead of words. I will be doing this after the break!

Any other ideas... please share!!




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Meet the Elves of Gulfport Elementary!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011
I was feeling a little like the Grinch this year without any Christmas decorations up and all around the speech room. I came up with an idea of creating the Elves of Gulfport as a fun and colorful activity for my students.
Our Gulfport Elves bulletin board

 To make the Elves, I cut out a circle for the face, a square for the body, a triangle for the hat, a oval for the fuzzy part of the hat, and rectangles for the arms and legs. This originally was going to be an activity for my preK and kindergarten students to help them learn colors and shapes. Then I got a little more creative and figured these Elves needef some personality!! I made a half sheet of paper with fill in the blank information about the elves. The paper says:

Hi! I am an elf!
My name is ___________.
I am ______ years old.
My favorite food is _____.
My favorite book is _____.
I like to ______.

Some of my students got super creative!! Check out some of our **Celebrity Elves!**

The Hulk Elf

Nicki Minaj Elf


Even with Christmas and the holidays coming up, I wanted to do activities that are still academically relevant. This activity can target making predictions, categorization, shapes, colors, requesting ("I want a green square please"), articulation (have them read aloud their answers to share), and social language.

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It's a..... CELEBRATION!

Sunday, December 11, 2011
WARNING: This post is going to be completely un-speech related! But I just had to share anyways! This weekend was so special for our family. Kevin and I found out last Tuesday the gender of our little jellybean! So, Saturday (after 4 long days of secrecy!) we threw a revealing party for our family and friends to share the news. We filled a box with balloons to release at the party (Pinterest inspired, of course!). If pink balloons were released, it was a girl, blue balloons meant it was a boy. Here are some highlights from the big day!

Grandpa Karl taking "pink or blue" bets!

My sister, Katie, on iChat from NY joining in!

Bringing the box outside for the big reveal... what's inside? Pink or Blue?

Family and friends awaiting the news! All holding their pink or blue spoons!

Grandpa Cummings with his blue spoon!


It's a.....

Girl!!!

Pink balloons!

Hugs from MeMe!

Hugs from Grandma!



It was such a special and exciting way to share the big news with our family! So of course, today we started shopping for adorable pink outfits! Baby girl clothes are just too stinkin' cute!! I hope you had a wonderful weekend... stay tuned this week to see our Elves of Gulfport! 



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Got Fluff?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011
I have quite a few kids this year that are struggling with the L sound... especially getting their tongue to move up for production! I have heard about using peanut butter as a tactile stimulation technique, but since our school is "Nut Free" that idea went out the window! I was talking with a coworker and we decided Marshmallow Fluff would work just the same... boy did it!!


The kids had a great time with this. Now I get requests for "more marshmallows!" at every therapy session! To get my students to correctly produce the L sound, I took a tongue depressor and put some Fluff up behind their top teeth at their alveolar ridge. They were instructed to keep their mouth open and use their tongue to lick off the Fluff! The really fun part came next.... I gave them Marshmallow Mustaches they had to lick off! It was a great oral motor exercise! I would recommend this idea to anyone struggling with oral motor or sound production difficulties! Check out some pictures of us hard at work! :)

Marshmallow Mustaches!!

Using our tongue to get that mustache off!

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Short Term Memory

Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Short term memory difficulties can have a major impact on your daily life. Students that struggle with short term memory skills struggle in school as well. I have a few students this year that truly struggle with this. I was looking up some drills and activities to do with these students and thought I would share some ideas!

1. Journey Game: take the students on a little trip around the school. Make stops at the cafe, library, nurses's office, etc. Make a point of saying, "our first stop is ___," our second stop is ___" etc. After you have completed your journey, have the students retrace the steps. Depending on the age of the student and severity, maybe just start with 2-3 locations.

2. Packing Game- this is often referred to as the picnic game. Have your students take turns adding something to the suitcase. Students have to remember what was packed before their item and add one to the suitcase. Using an actual suitcase (or box) with items can be really helpful for those visual learners.
example:
"I'm going on a trip and I am bringing my swim suit."
"I am going on a trip and I am bringing my swimsuit and my dress."
"I am going on a trip and I am bringing my swimsuit, my dress, and my camera."

3. Use colored blocks and arrange them in an order. Let the student look at the blocks for a time period (minute, 30 seconds) then take them away. Have the student rebuild your block arrangement.

4. Draw a shape, letter, object in the sand. Let the student look at the drawing for a period of time before you earase the drawing in the sand. Let them draw what you drew.

5. Read a grocery list (or list of anything!) to the students. Have them repeat back what was on your list. This is good for auditory memory.

6. Good ole concentration! I play concentration with my kids all the time. If you are unfamiliar with concentration, lay out cards that have a match face down on a table. Have the students take turns flipping over 2 at a time. If it is a match,  they keep the cards, if not they put the cards back where they were. The students have to remember where the cards were to get more matches.

I hope you find this helpful... any other ideas are welcomed!

PS- today is a very exciting day.... we find out if our little one is a boy or a girl!!
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We Are Thankful Turkeys!

Monday, November 28, 2011
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!! It was a much needed break, and to think, only 3 weeks until our next one! I didn't get a chance to post our adorable Thankful Turkeys we made the week before break, so I'll do it now!

I saw this on Pinterest and almost laughed out loud... it's so true. We put our own twist on the "hand" turkeys.

I used this activity as more of a social language activity. I was going to make my articulation kids write things they are thankful for with their target sounds, but changed my mind. I let them be creative. We had some great discussions about what it means to be thankful and how you can be thankful for people, places, things, etc. 


This was my sample turkey. To make her, yes it is a her, I traced the bottom of a coffee can for the brown circle. For the turkey head, I free handed a somewhat peanut shape. I cut orange triangles for the beak and of course added googly eyes! For the feathers (and the sake of time) I traced and precut my hands in different colors. When you only have a 30 minute session, you don't want to waste valuable language time on tracing and cutting. Classroom teachers may want to let the kids trace their own hands..... OR you could collaborate with the OT and have them do the tracing and cutting during occupational therapy :) You may notice my feathers do not have what I am thankful for on them. I have a truckload of things to be thankful for this year, but I didn't want the kids to get stuck on my ideas. I wanted them to come up with their own ideas. 

 Working hard on her turkey!



I love the drawings! This little one drew his sister!

Our Thankful Turkey bulletin board!



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The Great Turkey Race!

Thursday, November 17, 2011
This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.
The Great Turkey Race by Steve Metzger is one of my favorite stories to read leading up to Thanksgiving Break (2 more days, but who is counting?) This story is about three turkeys who all want to be Farmer Joe's special turkey. They come up with the idea of a field day to show Farmer Joe who the most special turkey is. They all want to win until they find out what really happens to the Thanksgiving turkey!!



**Spolier Alert!!** At the end of the story, the three turkeys escape the farm leaving Farmer Joe and Farmer Kate to eat delicious vegetable soup for Thanksgiving dinner. Wanting my students to use their imagination and prediction skills, I created a worksheet where the students can draw a picture of where they think the turkeys ran away to (I cannot figure out for the life of me how to upload it!).  I had some drawings of turkeys at the beach, some that ran away to a different farm, etc. Have fun with it and encourage creativity!
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When Do Speech Sounds Develop?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Many times parents or teachers come to me concerned about their child's speech, but do not know if they should be. I came across this chart on the Mommy Speech Therapy blog, that is easy to read and parent friendly. These norms are based on the Goldman Fristoe Test of Articulation. I keep this up in my room and handy to give to teachers and or parents with speech concerns.




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Picture This!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011
This week I did an activity with my first grade language students on visualizing using the fable, The Hen and the Apple Tree by Arnold Lobel. This story is about a wolf that disguises himself as an apple tree in hopes of luring a hen out of her home. I really wanted the kids to understand the importance of incorporating details into a story. So... I read them the story without showing them any pictures. I had the kids close their eyes as I read the story and told them to take pictures in their brain of what they were seeing! When the story was over, we completed a worksheet to help us organize the details as a whole group.

The first section says: "Clues from the story. The apple tree has....."
The second part says: "I think it looks like:"

The first part of the worksheet was to write down the clues about the apple tree we were given by the author (explicit information). The students recalled what they heard in the story and wrote down the clues:
1. 10 furry toes
2. sharp teeth
3. long pointy ears.

The second part of the worksheet was to draw the picture they saw in their brain. They had to use the explicit information given as well as infer what the rest of their drawing should look like. The kids actually did a really great job with this! Here are a few samples:

He even added labels to his picture!


After they were done, the kids shared their drawings with the group. Then I shared the picture the author used in the story. (It was so funny how they were in such suspense waiting for me to share the picture. They kept trying to sneak a peek while I wasn't looking!) At the end of the lesson, we had a discussion about how each drawing is different, but all are correct visualizations as long as they all contained the details the author gave us. 


I created this worksheet on word. This would be a great activity you could use with almost any book, just adapt the worksheet. Have a wonderful evening!! 9 days until Thanksgiving!!!




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You don't know Ned?

Thursday, November 10, 2011
For those of you that do not know Ned, you need to meet him! Ned is anything but adorable, but is always very popular! Ned's Head is a game that includes a giant plush head. To play the game, you first pick a card that has a picture of an object on it. You then reach into Ned's head (through his ears or nose) and try to find the object. Now, these objects are not pleasant. You have to find ear wax, vomit, a dirty diaper, a rat, etc!



You may be wondering why on Earth do I love Ned? The reason is because Ned can be used 1,000 different ways. I rarely ever use Ned the way he was designed to be used. Below are some ideas that I came up with to use this little guy!

1. I created my own shoe box of objects. Inside my box I put objects such as a toothbrush, a calculator, a cotton ball, a small football, a McDonald's toy.... things that don't make you want to lose your lunch! How I use Ned with this version of the game is I put the objects in Ned's Head before the students come into the room. Then, one at a time, the kids reach in Ned's head to find 1 object. They do not take the object out of his head. Instead, they give characteristics of the object (hard, soft, small, round, squishy) and they and their friends have to guess what it is. After they all guess, the object is removed from the head.

2. Having trouble getting your kids to drill speech words? Simply put the words in Ned's Head and let them draw a word card out. They practice the word after the draw the card. Simple, and no whining! :)

3. I created a sentence template on Boardmaker. My sentence says "I found a ______ in Ned's Head." The students draw out an object or word card (depending on the target goal) and fill in the blank. This is good for working on complete sentences and articulation.

4. Working on letter names and sounds? Place plastic letters in Ned's Head and have your kids draw out letters one at a time. They can find the match on a separate sheet, tell you the letter name and sound, or find an object that goes with the letter.

5. Working on initial sound identification? Place objects in Ned's Head with specific sounds you are working on. For example, if you are working on the letter S and the letter M, have objects that begin with S and M inside Ned's Head. Then, have a S and M box. As the students take objects out of Ned, they decide what box to sort the objects into.

The possibilities are endless with Ned. I believe I purchased Ned from Toys R Us. Have a wonderful weekend... I am off to Atlanta in the morning to see my beautiful friend, Francesca get married!!!





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M&M's plus Math? Yes, please!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011
I hope everyone had a WONDERFUL Halloween!! If you're like me and didn't have very many trick or treaters come to collect this year.... you have lots of leftover candy! So instead of me eating all the leftovers while watching my new favorite show Long Island Medium, (because believe me, I would have!) I decided to use my left over treats for a language activity!

I downloaded this worksheet a few years ago from the Read.Write.Think. website (www.readwritethink.org). This activity is best for first grade and up. I tried it with few kindergarten students, who did surprisingly well, but as a whole I would stick with first grade and above. This activity teaches new math vocabulary (estimate, more than, less than, most, least, compare, graph, etc) as well as reinforces following directions. I of course tied speech in here as well! One of my students that has the "th" sound as a goal, had to use the correct sound in the words "three, " "thirteen," and in the sentence, "I think my bag has _____ M&M's inside."

Each student was given a bag of M&M's or Skittles, a pencil, and a worksheet. I'm sure you cannot read this worksheet from the photo. The first sections says My Estimate _____. None of my students knew the word estimate, so I let them use their detective skills and try to figure out the meaning from my clue, "I want you to estimate how many M&M's are in your bag. You cannot open the bag or touch the bag." The next section says The Amount ______. This is where they open the bag and count their candy. From there, the students had to decide if their estimate was more than, less than, or equal to the actual amount in the bag. 
Counting and sorting candy!


Next, the kids sort their candy into color groups and graph their results! At the bottom of the page, the students fill out which color had the most and which color had the lease amount in the bag. The last step (and most important!) is to eat their candy!

Graphing our results.

Completed graph!

"Check out our graphs!"


Our bulletin board outside the speech room: "This week we learned to estimate!"





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