Spice Up That Speech Homework!

Thursday, February 28, 2013
Anyone else counting down the days to Spring Break? I know I am and  lately I have been in a major speech homework rut! I was not sending home my homework folders because I had nothing new to send home. Once the kids started asking me for homework (say, what?!) I knew I needed to do something quick! I was on a search for new homework ideas and found a whole binder full! So here are some new ideas that have spiced up my homework folders!

Natalie Snyders has created some really awesome articulation homework packets- in fact her store is filled with them! She has created some general articulation packets that could go home daily or weekly with your students. What I really like about Natalie's packets is that they include activities, not just a list of drill words. Below are a few examples of her homework activities.
  • Being a speech detective: finding words that contain a target sound to put in their Detective Notebook.
  • Visiting the Zoo: drawing pictures of animals that contain a target sound. 
  • Describing Detective: students have to use descriptive words to describe a word that contains the target.
  • Word Search Puzzles
  • Crossword Puzzles
In addition to the everyday homework packets, Natalie has also created monthly themed homework packets. I loved her February packet filled with adorable artic worksheets covered in cupcakes, hearts, and lovebugs! To check out Natalie's Teachers Pay Teachers Store, click here!

CC from the If Only I Had Superpowers blog has some pretty amazing homework packets as well. She has created homework packets for a year! When I saw this I thought, "A year? A year of not planning homework? Count me in!" CC has a worksheet for every week of the year filled with speech and language activities. No excuse for not sending home speech homework now! CC even has a whole packet of social language homework. Here is an example of one of her October homework sheets: 
Check out CC's Teachers Pay Teachers store here!

Shannon from Speechy Musings has also created some great articulation packets. Her packets are separated by sounds and are age appropriate for students 3-12. She includes a variety of activities for each sound. Below are some examples of her homework activities.
  • Circle the picture
  • Decorate the.....
  • Write a sentence
  • Fill in the blank
  • Tic Tac Toe
  • Cut and Glue

 Here is another homework packet that will make you "smile!" It comes from Teach Speech 365. She has created two homework packets that address articulation and grammar. The idea with this packet, is that the students color in the smiley faces as they practice their target. Here is a screen shot of one of her pages:

You can visit Teach Speech 365's Teachers Pay Teachers Store here!

One last resource for some great homework materials.... and this one is FREE!
Have you visited Ms. Lane's SLP Materials yet? She has got some great free materials. My favorite are her story activities. Students cut out pictures at the bottom of the page and have to put them in the story where it is fit. The pictures all contain target speech sounds. Below is a picture of an "ar" story:

I hope you all have found this helpful, I know I did. These are some great homework ideas that will get you through the rest of the school year.... and then some!


Welcome Home Wednesday: Maria Del Duca!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Good morning and happy Wednesday! I am super excited to Welcome Home Maria Del Duca from the Communication Station: Speech Therapy PLLC blog! Maria always has fabulous ideas and tips for therapists. You are going to love her post today. It is filled with great new ideas for keeping the little ones active and attentive during therapy (I am SO glad I just bought a new Twister!) Have a great Wednesday!

Let’s Get Physical:  Keeping PK kiddos attentive during therapy!

So here is my biggest secret to success with preschoolers:  Movement!  It is NOT developmental to expect a PK age child to sit and attend to an activity for 30 or 50 minute sessions.  Children are constantly learning, exploring, and problem solving.  They, like us all, need proprioceptive feedback.  I provide that by adding movement to almost ALL of my therapy activities.  When I add movement to any activity, I have learned that my PK students attend longer to one single activity and will participate in more trials during the therapy session than if I would expect them to sit the entire time.  The movement does not have to be big or elaborate.  Here some simple examples of how I incorporate movement into some everyday activities we SLPs LOVE:

  • Bingo:  We SLPs love our bingo don't we? Articulation bingo?  Grammar bingo? Vocab bingo? I simply place the stimulus cards (or bingo chips) in another area (all over the floor, along the walls, hidden the room, on another table, etc.) so that every time we need to use them, the children get to walk over and get one (or several depending on the number of trials I am attempting that day).

Memory/Concentration:  We love this game for the problem solving, reasoning, visual memory, task that it truly is while targeting articulation or other language tasks!  How do I add movement into memory?  Place the cards farther apart all over the floor.  That's it!  So simple and so effective.  Below you see I added tossing the bean bags to choose a card, but many times I will use little balls (bounce on the card and it’s yours), or nerf guns/disc slingers (hit a card and it’s yours) just to mix it up a bit!    

  • Fishing:  We love to have our kids "fish" those stimulus cards!  I usually place the "pond" of fish (with stimulus cards attached) on one end of the room, while I am seated at the other end.  After the child "catches" his number of fish, he walks over to give me cards and we practice those stimulus cards together.

  • Board games:  Teaching a child rules to board games, taking turns, being a good sport, etc. are invaluable.  So it is a MUST that we work on them in therapy.  How in the world do you add movement to board games you ask?  Well the biggest thing I do for activities that are AT a table is I allow the children to stand!  Yes they will move around, they will squirm, and maybe even find themselves on the floor a few times during therapy, but the sensory feedback they get from standing and squirming results in more practice trials...so...I'll take it!  (As the children grow in age and development I will expect longer periods of sitting in order to prepare them for Kindergarten of course.)
  • Bean Bag or Ball Toss games:  I love me some bean bag toss games...throwing stimulus cards all over the floor and having the child throw the bean bag or ball onto a card (or with a ball it may roll/bounce on several cards), the child quickly picks up card, brings back to me, we practice...and do it all over again!

  • Hide N Seek:  Great game for teaching pronouns!  Also great with use of a ball, nerf gun (or "dart slinger" if you aren't allowed to use the word gun in your work environment) or any other object that is soft and can be "thrown" at stimulus cards.  Hide the cards, child finds the cards, throws/rolls ball or shoots dart at card...practices card and finds another.

  • Crafts:  We love our crafts...great receptive language tasks focusing on following directions.  So place all craft materials somewhere OTHER than the table you are doing the craft and have the child retrieve the objects you need (BEFORE giving a complex command so they can focus on the language of that command after the materials are in front of them).

  • Other things I love to do:  games that incorporate hopping or jumping, crab crawling, and yes even dancing.  You know I love my music!  When in a school, you have some really great resources with your PE teacher.  Grab a scooter, hula hoops, a dodge ball or a parachute and have some fun. 
Don’t have access to those things?  How about simple game of Twister?  I love to use my twister mat for this...and add color identification as a side preacademic concept for kids while using the spinner.  On the spinner I will place words “jump, hop, crawl, dance, frog hop, etc. over the areas that label left vs. right hand/foot so the students can follow a gross motor direction while grabbing their stimulus card.

You’ve done twister?  How about a point’s game?  I make points cards (+/- points) and use our disc slingers after several trials of stimulus cards.  Where ever our discs land is how many points we get after each round.  Below you can see that this game was a family affair during one of my home sessions!  It’s always nice to get siblings involved for support!

Think of all the ways you can add movement into your therapy!  I promise you it won't take away from your therapy or goals.  Allowing a child to perform within his/her developmental expectations is NEVER out of sync with our goals as SLPs.  And most importantly, remember to have fun!

Happy Talking!


In My APPinion [Language Empires by Smarty Ears]

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
I am very excited to share this new app with you all, Language Empires by Smarty Ears! This app allows you and your students to explore the Roman Empire while working on their language skills.  
The different skill areas are broken down into 8 empires: 
  • figurative language
  • how
  • vocabulary
  • predicting
  • inferencing
  • sequencing
  • which
  • why

 To use this app, you first select your players. You are able to either use a photo or an avitar for your students' photos. My student LOVE when they can use anything with their photo or their name on it. 

 After you set up your players, you choose which empire each student will be working in. The great thing about this app is that each student can be working in a different empire while playing the same game together. For example, Elizabeth can be working on figurative language, while Kevin is working on sequencing, and Kenzie is working on answering why questions. This is a dream come true for us school based SLP's because we all know how diverse our groups can be. 

Once you begin the game, one by one the students are prompted with a question  based on which empire they are in. The photo above is an example of a sequencing question. Here, the student has to put the events in the correct order of how to take a message for someone who isn't home. 

The photo above is an example of a how question. The question is, "How can you tell if someone is a bully?" The student is prompted with multiple choice answers for them to choose from. 

I love that this app is so versatile. It is a language app that targets so many areas of language. My students love playing games in therapy and with this app they can have fun playing while secretly working on their language goals! This app also allows you to keep track of how the student does. I love paperless data tracking. You can email the results which is great for communication between teachers and parents. 

Language Empires Sells for $20.99 in the iTunes store.  Before you buy, try to win a copy below!


Making Therapy Meaningful!

Monday, February 18, 2013
Happy Monday everyone. I hope you all had a relaxing day off... if you had one. I was in a Common Core training all morning! I wanted to write this post today because it is something we all can relate to. This year I had a wake up call when talking with a parent about her child and her child's progress in speech over the year. Let's call her, "Miranda." Miranda had been in speech for about a year. We were working on the same sounds for the entire year and she had made very little progress during this time. I knew she had made little progress, but when you hear those words come out of a parent's mouth, it stings a little. Miranda had goals for the "sh" "ch" and "dz" sounds. In all honesty, I had given up on the "dz" sound for the time being because I could barely get Miranda to even imitate the sound. That was until speaking with Miranda's mother! When speaking with the parent, I learned that Miranda's family included: Jay, Javarian, Janiya, RJ, and Jackie. Oh boy! I had no idea how important working on those "dz" sounds were. No wonder her mother saw no progress when she is hearing these names produced wrong all day, everyday!

So this very inspiring conversation with mom had me realize that I need to get away from the traditional "wish, wash, ship, shake" drill words with some students. If these words have no real meaning to the student, they have no motivation for correcting their speech. This motivated me to create a student interest survey (to be filled out by the parent or student depending on age or ability.) Use this survey at the beginning of the year or when you get a new student anytime during the school year. Knowing this information can shape your therapy sessions. Below is a copy of my student interest survey:

Now during my Table Talking Center, I work on "dz" words with her, making sure I  include her family members' names in my drill list! I am happy to share that "Miranda" is now correctly producing her "dz" sounds correctly! 

Welcome Home Wednesday: Jen from Speech Universe!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Good morning and happy Wednesday! Today I would like to Welcome Home Jen from Speech Universe. Jen has a great post about tools you can use with students who have Autism. I find that every year I have more and more students on my caseload with Autism. I love learning about new materials and ideas to use with these students. Thanks Jen! (PS- look for a FREEBIE!)

Hi, I’m Jen from Speech Universe, and I am so excited to be doing a guest post for Kristin! 
I work at a school that has three self-contained Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) classrooms.  The school social worker and I were looking at ways to consolidate 18 students who typically were seen one on one twice a week.  We knew that we wanted to start some groups to work on social language.  We have quite a range of students.  They are K-5th grade, and range from completely non-verbal, to verbal (lots of PECS, devices, and phrase speech in between).  The first year we started working together, we began doing “Fun Fridays” in one of the classrooms.  We would typically bring in a game and a snack to make.  We worked with the whole class (six students), the paraprofessionals, and the classroom teacher.  Some days it got a little noisy and crazy!  The kids were having fun, but we realized quickly that there were too many cooks, and not enough learning going on.  The following year, we decided to stray from our original plan of working with everyone at one time, and broke down the classrooms a bit by ability.   We also started to use a repetitive “formula” for our sessions.  Both of these ideas have worked out really well.
We have broken our classes up into “higher level” groups, and “lower level” groups.  Each group contains 3-4 students.  The “higher level” students are verbal, however struggle with answering questions, and participating in conversational exchanges.  The “lower level” students are typically non-verbal or minimally verbal.  Most of them have either a PECS book, or a high tech communication device.  We do not currently have any students on a high tech communication device that fall into our “higher level”; however we have in the past.
A typical group for our “higher level” students looks like this:
1.        Feelings Check-In:  The social worker created a visual choice board for feelings.  The students pick how they are feeling at that time and put it onto the sentence strip.  Students are able to pick from 10 different feelings and create sentences.  They have all started to state their feelings quickly and sometimes without the visuals now!  Please see the end of this post for a FREEBIE!
 Conversation : This year, we have decided to really focus on conversations, or asking questions of peers.   We have been using visuals I made for conversations.  These have been really great with our students.  The activity consists of five visual boards that have all of their favorite items in categories.  The categories we have really focused on are: toys, food, animals, colors, and tv shows.  They have started to ask each other questions about their favorite things and waiting for the answers.  We have really encouraged them to get their peers attention by using their names and orienting their bodies toward each other.
 I apologize that I cannot give the conversation board away as a freebie.  We often use Boardmaker symbols, and they do not allow people to give away products that include their images.  You can find the conversation activity that we use  HERE
 Turn Taking Game: We have had a lot of fun playing turn taking games.  We play any kind of turn taking game that we can find (or that I steal from my kids at home).  Some examples of games we have played are: Gone Fishing, Zingo, Don’t Break the Ice, Go Fish, and a touch and feel box.  They also LOVE a Marble Castle game that the social worker has.  During these games, we focus on orienting toward each other, requesting turns, requesting parts of the game, and sharing.  Another big part that we focus on is WAITING!  We always have visuals on hand for our games.  We can usually print out the visuals pretty quickly on Boardmaker.  The biggest visual we use is the WAIT card.

A typical session for our “lower level” students looks like this:
1.        Feelings check-in.  For these guys we usually offer a choice of two or three feelings words.  Typically we offer ‘happy, sad, and hungry.’  They love picking ‘hungry’ because then that usually leads to them requesting a snack with their communication book or device (and us playing grandma and giving in to the request).
2.       Simple turn taking game.  We are just starting to introduce these with these groups.  We usually make it around about two times in the group before they get really restless and we need to switch activities.  We use the same games as above, but may adapt them a bit more.
3.       Requesting!  We usually have a third person with us who can act as a silent prompter.  We focus a lot on the PECS model of requesting.  We have been so excited with the results!  I bring in my big box of reinforcing toys with all of the visual icons printed out for each one.  Students are then able to pick what they want to play with, and then we start making them request the items.  Our students range from requesting one item on the front of the book, to requesting using the three word sentence “I want ____.”

It has been such a rewarding experience working closely with the school social worker.  I think we both learn things from each other every day.  Our groups continue to be a work in progress, but I think the students are really benefitting from all of our experimenting.
Here is my FREEBIE! It is an example of a feelings check-in sheet you could use.  This one does not contain Boardmaker pictures, the graphics are from mycutegraphics.com and  graphics factory.com.  You can find the feelings check-in sheet HERE at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Thank you so much for reading my really long post!  I am so excited to share what I have been doing, and really feel like I didn’t even share everything!  If you have any questions, please contact me at: speechuniverse@gmail.com or go to my Facebook page- https://www.facebook.com/speechuniverse
Thank you, Kristin for allowing me to share on your blog!

New Year, New Data Sheets!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Yes, here we go again! I feel like I am constantly trying to reinvent the wheel with data sheets that are functional and useful for me. At last, I think  I may have done it this time! I have found that I don't use the data sheets that have the spaces for +/- or tally marks like they show you how to use in grad school. I have tried, but it doesn't always work out. In all honesty, I print out a new copy of my schedule/lesson plans each week and mark them up

That kind of madness works well for me.... until it comes time for IEP updates, progress notes, etc. So I have created two new data sheets that are really working for me. Maybe they will work for you too... check them out:
The first one I created is a Speech Running Record. I use this sheet for my articulation kids. Since I was keeping my +/- on my lesson plans, I figured what's the point of transferring all the +'s and -'s to a new data sheet? I wanted all my articulation data in one place where I could see progress. With this running record I can see Jacob's /s/ sounds go from 40% January 4th to 80% on February 4th (hey, a girl can dream, right?)
Below is a picture of my Running Record put to use!

I call this little gem my IEP Friendly Data Sheet! I know all IEP's are different in each county, but in ours, you are required to fill out the student's strengths and present levels before you list your goal. The idea for this sheet came to me one day while taking observational notes in my preK class. I was noting ideas for future goals for a student and then thinking to myself, will I remember this when his IEP is due? Viola! The birth of the IEP Friendly Data Sheet! This can be used as daily progress notes, but a little more organized.  Click here to download a copy for yourself!

Let me know your thoughts on these sheets. Anyone else as crazy as me and try to revamp everything half way through the year?

In My APPinion Monday: Mneemo

Monday, February 11, 2013
Happy Monday! I am back with another fabulous app review and giveaway. Mneemo is an app created by a fellow SLP and her husband. My kids had a great time playing with this app the last few weeks.
When you open Mneemo, you are brought to 4 boards that come with the app: Letter, Numbers, Animals, and Shapes.
After you choose the board you want to use, you choose how many pairs you want in your game.
Once you choose how many pairs you want to play with, you are brought to the game board. This game is a memory style game where each student takes a turn flipping over 2 cards at a time. If it's a match the cards disappear, if it is not, it flips back over. 
The coolest part of the app is that you can customize this app to your needs. You can upload your own photos based on what you are working on with your students. This would be perfect for learning new vocabulary words and concepts.

What I LOVE about this app:
- Customizable! I love, love, love that you can customize this app.
- Price! This app is only $.99.... can't beat that!
- Fun! The kids have a great time using this app while they are learning.
- Repetition! Since this is a memory type game, the children are exposed to the pictures multiple times. Repetition is key for most of our kids and learning new concepts.
- Easy to use! This app was very easy for myself and the students to use.
- Last but not least, I love that this app was created by a fellow SLP :)

What I would change about this app:
 - I would only change 1 thing about this app: once the 2 cards are selected in a turn, that they do not flip back over until you choose a new card. While playing the game, I always talk with my students and have them tell me what object they flipped over. Once the turn is over, it flips back too quickly.

Mneemo sells for $.99 in the iTunes store. Click here to check it out, or enter below to win 1 of 3 copies!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Speech Centers This Week!

Friday, February 8, 2013
Happy Friday! I have never meant TGIF more in my life! Who wants to meet me at happy hour? :) Before we go, I wanted to share with you all what we did in speech centers this week:

Center 1: Table Talking
If you are new to my speech centers posts, my table talking center is when I work one on one with my students on their goals. This is incredibly helpful for groups that have children at different ability levels. I am able to progress monitor their speech as well as work on certain sounds that they are having trouble with.

Center 2: iPad Center
This week I had the kids using Articulation Station by Little Bee Speech. I know that this app is nothing new to you all, but I love it. We have it on the iPad at school that the communication disorders department owns, but I use if so frequently that I wish I had my own copy!

Center 3: Activity Center
In honor of Valentine's Day, we used my LOVEly Speech cards and an echo microphone. I got the microphones in the dollar bin at Target. The kids love them and don't mind doing drills if they get to say them in the microphone.  You can download my LOVEly Speech articulation cards here!

Center 4: Listening Center  Activity Center #2
So... my "old as dirt" CD/cassette player died this week. I had to be quick on my feet and think of another activity for my centers. I decided to use Pop for Sight Words. To play, the student takes out a piece of popcorn  and reads the sight word on it. If he/she cannot read the word, you put it aside to be "popped" later. However, if you get a POP card, you have to put all the words back. This is a fun activity for a group and worked well as a center, too. 

I hope you all had a fabulous week! I look forward to seeing everyone's Valentine's Day activities next week!
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