Say What? A Comprehension Activity: PreK Edition {Giveaway!}

Saturday, July 27, 2013
Comprehension. It seems to be a very common goal on treatment plans and IEPs. So many of our little ones struggle with this very important skill. A few months ago, I created 2 comprehension activities for elementary aged kiddos to help them work on this skill. You can check them out here and here! The activities were such a hit that I decided to create a PreK edition of this activity as well! I introduce to you....
This activity includes a game board and 24 short story cards. Each short story has comprehension questions that target the following goals:
Answering Yes/No questions
Answering 'what' questions
Answering 'where' questions
Answering 'who' questions
Inferencing skills
Above is a screen shot of the game board. Have your students move across the board as they correctly answer the comprehension questions!

You can download this activity in my store or try to win a copy below. If you can't wait for the contest to be over and want to purchase it now, go ahead. If you win the contest, I will give you another free product of your choice from my store. Good luck!!

August's Book Choice Is....

Friday, July 26, 2013
Out With It
By Katherine Preston
In August, this will be our new book! I am excited about this one. Stuttering is one area of communication that I feel like I can always learn more about. I am excited to read Katherine's story. Big thanks to Linda Chirco for recommending it for our book club and to all of you that voted! 

Don't forget about the SLP Book Club message board (there is a link to it on the right side of the blog) and to use #SlpBookClub

Happy reading!!

In My APPinion: Comprehension Aphasia

Thursday, July 25, 2013
Comprehension is a very important skill that so many of our patients struggle with. Virtual Speech Center, Inc. created an app called, Comprehension Aphasia to target that skill. This app was created by a speech language pathologist and is intended to be used with both children and adults that exhibit Aphasia, cognitive deficits, Central Auditory Processing Disorder, receptive language disorders, and/or Autism. 
Disclaimer: Virtual Speech Center did provide me with a copy of this app, however, the opinions expressed are mine. 
To get started, choose START on the main page. You then will be prompted to add or choose an existing student. From there, you can choose what type of activities and questions you want to be presented during the session. You can choose from a variety of tasks involving yes/no questions and following directions. 
This app includes more than 1,700 pre-recorded audio instructions in these goal areas:
  • Yes/No Questions (6 levels of difficulty)
  • Basic Directions with 1 Element (12 levels of difficulty) *elements are: nouns, verbs, adjectives, and function of objects
  • Basic Directions with 2 Elements (12 levels of difficulty) *elements are: nouns, verbs, adjectives, and function of objects
  • Temporal Directions (18 levels of difficulty) *uses terms before and after
  • Conditional Directions (9 levels of difficulty)

This is an example of a a yes/no question that targets verbs.
"Is the baby sleeping?"

You also have the option of answering yes/no questions without the picture cues. 

The screen shot above is a sample question from the following conditional directions- nouns category. 
"If we should drink water everyday, touch the corn. If not, tap the hose."

This app also includes a report section that keeps tract of student data and progress. 

I like that this app includes so many different activity choices and different levels. One thing that this app includes that most do not is background noise. This is great for working on a student's ability to focus on a task and ignore distractions. I also love an app that includes a recording option. The only thing that I would change with this app is the ability to mix the questions up a bit. If you choose more than one category, the app runs through 30 questions before switching the question type. Other than that, this is a great app to use when targeting comprehension goals. 

SLP Book Club: Time to Vote for August!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Yikes, next week we will be in August already! That means that it is time to vote for August's book for our fabulous SLP Book Club. I am thinking that once school starts, we will vote on a book every other month. I know how hectic things get... especially at the beginning of the year. 

I hope you all are enjoying these books as much as I am. So far we have picked some really great books. I have complied a list of books that were recommended by my fellow readers for us to vote on. Below is a list of the names and descriptions (from of August's book options:

1. Out With It: How Stuttering Helped Me Find My Voice
by Katherine Preston
"Imagine waking up one day to find your words trapped inside your head, leaving you unable to say what you feel, think, want, or need. At the age of seven that happened to Katherine Preston. From that moment, she began battling her stutter and hiding her shame by denying there was anything wrong. Seventeen years later, exhausted and humiliated, she made a life-changing decision: to leave her home in London and spend a year traveling around America meeting hundreds of stutterers, speech therapists, and researchers. What began as a vague search for a cure became a journey that debunked the misconceptions shrouding the condition, and a love story that transformed her conception of what it means to be normal."

2. House Rules 
by Jodi Picoult
"Jacob Hunt is a teen with Asperger’s syndrome. He’s hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, though he is brilliant in many ways. But he has a special focus on one subject—forensic analysis. A police scanner in his room clues him in to crime scenes, and he’s always showing up and telling the cops what to do. And he’s usually right.But when Jacob’s small hometown is rocked by a terrible murder, law enforcement comes to him. Jacob’s behaviors are hallmark Asperger’s, but they look a lot like guilt to the local police. Suddenly the Hunt family, who only want to fit in, are directly in the spotlight. For Jacob’s mother, Emma, it’s a brutal reminder of the intolerance and misunderstanding that always threaten her family. For his brother, Theo, it’s another indication why nothing is normal because of Jacob. And over this small family, the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder?"

3. Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend 
by Matthew Dicks
"Budo is lucky as imaginary friends go. He's been alive for more than five years, which is positively ancient in the world of imaginary friends. But Budo feels his age and thinks constantly of the day when eight-year-old Max Delaney will stop believing in him. When that happens, Budo will disappear. Max is different from other children. Some people say he has Asperger’s, but most just say he’s “on the spectrum.” None of this matters to Budo, who loves Max unconditionally and is charged with protecting him from the class bully, from awkward situations in the cafeteria, and even in the bathroom stalls. But he can’t protect Max from Mrs. Patterson, a teacher in the Learning Center who believes that she alone is qualified to care for this young boy. When Mrs. Patterson does the unthinkable, it is up to Budo and a team of imaginary friends to save Max—and Budo must ultimately decide which is more important: Max’s happiness or his own existence. Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is a triumph of courage and imagination that touches on the truths of life, love, and friendship as it races to a heartwarming . . . and heartbreaking conclusion."

4. Still Alice 
by Lisa Genova

"Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer's disease. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away. In turns heartbreaking, inspiring and terrifying, Still Alice captures in remarkable detail what's it's like to literally lose your mind..."

5. Mockingbird 
by Kathryn Erskine

"Caitlin has Asperger's. The world according to her is black and white; anything in between is confusing. Before, when things got confusing, Caitlin went to her older brother, Devon, for help. But Devon has died, and Caitlin's dad is so distraught that he is just not helpful. Caitlin wants everything to go back to the way things were, but she doesn't know how to do that. Then she comes across the word closure- and she realizes this is what she needs. And in her search for it, Caitlin discovers that the world may not be black and white after all."

6. Aquamarine Blue 5: Personal Stories of College Students With Autism

"The first book to be written by autistic college students who have been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, or High Functioning Autism, Aquamarine Blue 5 demonstrates their unique way of looking at and solving problems and the challenges they face. These readable essays detail the struggles of a highly sensitive group and show that there are gifts specific to autistic students that enrich the university system, scholarship, and the world as a whole. Containing the stories of a dozen autistic students, the book deals with everything from learning to eat in dormitory dining halls to making friends to exploring sexuality."

Community Helpers: A CCSS Thematic Unit! {Giveaway!!}

July isn't even over yet and the stores are screaming "Back 2 School" already! Part of me hates the fact that summer is coming to an end but the other part of me secretly loves this time of year. I get overly excited about notebooks and new crayons. At the beginning of each school year, I organize my year based on thematic units. Thematic units help keep me organized. I feel that if I know the theme that I am going to be using, I have more direction for therapy. I have a clear idea of what stories I will be reading and what kind of activities we will be doing in speech. I have created a series of thematic units and I would like to introduce my first of the series... Community Helpers!
This activity pack is full of language based activities that also help you hit those common core standards. This year, my state is taking the common core head on, so I want to be prepared. I try to always keep those standards in mind now when creating actives and planning for therapy. 
Let's take a little tour inside this activity....
First up are vocabulary posters. I have created a poster for 8 community helpers:
Crossing Guard
Police Officer

Next up, I have included a community helper matching game. These cards can be used many ways, but I indented them to be used as a matching game. Print out 2 copies and play a concentration/memory type game with them. You could also hide them around the room and have your students name the community helper as he/she found them.

For our little ones working on patters, I included a pattern worksheet. This worksheet includes AB, AABB, and ABC patters.

The picture above is of my game board. 

These inferencing cards can be used on their own or as game cards with the game board. Have your kiddos answer a question before the take roll the dice to move across the game board. 

These pronoun cards could also be used with the game board or on their own. 

Bonus cards for the game! Print as many copies of this page as you would like. 

There are 4 venn diagrams included prompting students to compare and contrast:
Firefighter vs. Police Officer
Dentist vs. Doctor
Baker vs. Farmer
Veterinarian vs. Doctor

I love a good writing prompt! After your kids have learned about community helpers, encourage them to choose what community helper they would like to be and draw a picture!

Last but not least, attribute cards! Let students show off all they have learned about community helpers!

I am very excited about this activity! You can download this activity in my store or try to win a copy below! If you can't wait for the contest to be over and want to purchase it now, go ahead. If you win the contest, I will give you another free product of your choice from my store. Good luck!!

Sunday Funday Instagrammies!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Yes, I know it's not Sunday, but it's kind of hard to ignore a linky party... especially one that has the word Instagram in the name! Gabrielle from Teaching Special Thinkers is hosting an Instagram linky. I wanted to do a 'Mid-Summer Update' post so I figured, why not combine the two?! 

Here is how it works:
All you need to do to link up is show off your favorite school related & non-school related Instagram photos from the week! Then, Gabrielle will pick one person that linked up as the Instagrammies winner based on the pics! That person will get pick one item from her store!

Here are some of my Instagrams from last week!

Kenzie and I have been lovin' summer and our pool days!

The husband and I finally got to go to a Rays game. When we were dating we went to almost every game... now we're lucky if we get 2 games in each season!
Besides the pool and baseball games, I also L-O-V-E Pinterest!! I host Pinterest Parties at my house as often as I can. What's better than getting your best girlfriends together, having some wine, and getting crafty? 

I am going to try to keep up with these Sunday Funday Instagram Linkys, how fun?! 
PS- If you would like to follow me on Instagram, my name is: Kevstin.

Little Rhymers Grow Into Little Readers! {Freebie Included!}

Saturday, July 20, 2013
Every time I go into the PreK unit at school, I always leave with a song stuck in my head! There is a good reason behind this... rhymes help develop your little learner's language development. Learning nursery rhymes introduce children to letter sounds and vocabulary as well as pitch, volume, and inflection. 
 I created an activity that targets the skills of rhyming. This packet includes 6 rhyming mats and 18 cards. Each mat includes a target word and 3 corresponding rhyming matches. 
To use this activity, print and laminate the mats and sorting cards. Have your students sort the cards and match them with the correct rhyming words!

This activity includes target words ending in the following sounds:
-at, -ee, -all, -ing, -ail, -ar 

This packet would be great for literacy centers in addition to therapy activities. 

You can download this activity for free... yes you heard right, for free :)

PS- While writing this blog post, I came across this great article about rhyming and development!

In My APPinion: Syllables Splash

Friday, July 19, 2013
What app screams summer more than Syllables Splash?! Syllables Splash is a new app created by Smarty Ears. This app was created to teach children syllable segmenation, phonemic awareness, and literacy skills, which are all common core standards for kindergarten and first grade! Teaching and learning the concept of syllables can be quite tedious, however, Smarty Ears did a great job creating a very engaging app!
To get started, first add your student(s) profiles into the app. I love that this app allows you to choose a photo or avitar for your student. My kids always love choosing their character. You can also import student profiles from Smarty Ears Therapy Report Center (TRC). Once you create student profiles, you can choose up to 4 players to participate in the session. I love apps that allow more than one student to participate... and so do all my fellow school based SLPs!
The student is presented with an image and an audio presentation of a target word. Then, he or she touches the number at the bottom of the screen that corresponds with the number of syllables in the word. The image above is for the word 'fever.' 
You can also choose to have the written version of the word presented instead of a photo. 
If the student gets the answer correct, he/she will move on to the next word. If he/she answers incorrectly, a shark comes and eats the incorrect answer! This is a setting that you can turn off, but I think it's great! Another fun little extra that this app includes is a turtle that will clap out the syllables for you if you tap 'help.'
Syllables Splash also has a Report Card center where your students' data is stored. 

This is a great app with a great summer theme! It is very easy to use and set up. In addition to teaching syllable segmentation, I liked to use this app with students that have goals addressing multisyllabic words. 

Love It & List It Linky Party!

Thursday, July 18, 2013
2 linky parties in 1 week? Yes please! I am excited to be joining  Speech Room News' Love It & List It Linky Party. The 3rd Friday of every month, fellow bloggers and I will be posting lists of our favorite things. This month's list consists of my favorite games for therapy. Now we're talking board games. No iPads included on this list (goodness gracious, what did we do before iPads?)

1. Ned's Head: My husband bought me this game when I was hired at my first elementary school job. I adore this game for so many reasons. Yes, from the looks of the box, this game is disgusting and screams "little boy game" all over it. But I have played this game the way it is supposed to be played less times than the number of fingers I have on one hand. I love to stuff Ned's Head with articulation cards, question cards, tactile/ sensory objects, you name it. Ned turns boring articulation drill sessions into tons of fun!

2. Candy Land: I wouldn't be surprised if this game made it on every list for this linky party. Candy Land is so appealing to kids. Sometimes I think it is sitting on my shelf screaming at the kids to come play with it.... and I honestly don't mind. I love that this game allows for so many therapy opportunities.  Since it is a pretty fast paced and an easy to understand game, it can be used with my itty bitty ones too.

3. Granny's Candies: This is another fun candy themed game (hmm.. I'm sensing a theme here!) This game by Super Duper is great for targeting language and vocabulary goals. 
Thanks for checking out this linky party! I am off to check out all the other bloggers' lists now!

S.L.P. F.A.Q.

Saturday, July 13, 2013
"How long will my child be in speech?" 
"What do you do again?"
"Can we double up therapy time to speed up progress?" 
Good morning everyone! I wanted to write a post on frequently asked questions to an SLP for one major reason... they are frequently asked! This post is not just for speeches, but for teachers and parents as well. The questions I am going to address are ones that myself and many other SLPs get asked frequently. Chances are, if you are reading this as a parent or teacher, you have the same question. Hopefully this post will clear a few things up!
"What do you do again?"
My job is a speech language pathologist, not the "speech lady" or "speech teacher" (although that is what my pay stub says!) Part of my job is to help students that have trouble with articulation, or producing sounds. I also work with students that have language disorders and difficulty with age appropriate skills.  I help those that have voice disorders and difficulty with feeding and swallowing. I do more than help kids that have trouble with their /r/ sounds, I help children communicate. 

"What is the difference in speech and language therapy?"
A speech disorder refers to trouble producing speech sounds, or articulation. For example, a student may produce the word rainbow as "wainbow" or cat as "dat." Most children make some mistakes when they are young and learning letter names and sounds. It becomes an issue when it the speech error persists past a certain age. If you have concerns regarding your child or student's articulation of sounds, you are concerned with their speech. You may notice their speech affects their reading, writing, and or spelling.  These are all good reasons to seek out the professional opinion of a speech language pathologist. A language disorder has nothing to do with the way a student produces speech sounds when communicating. If a child has a language disorder, they have difficulty demonstrating age appropriate skills. This may include, but is not limited to, vocabulary, following directions, comprehension of verbal and/or written information, understanding questions, answering questions, and expressing their ideas clearly. 

"My 3 year old cannot say his /r/ sounds should I be worried?"
Like all child development, speech sounds develop in a certain order. Certain sounds develop at a certain age, and it isn't usually something to be worried about unless it persists past a certain age. For example, the /r/ sound should be developed by age 6. So if a 3 year old cannot produce the /r/ sound, it is not something to be concerned with at this time. However, I will say the early intervention has proven to be successful but that is based on a personal decision between you and your therapist. 
Below is a speech sound development chart that I found on the Mommy Speech Therapy blog that may be helpful for questions like this. 

"What classwork and school subjects will my student miss while in therapy?"
In my district, we have "no touch" times. This means that therapists are not allowed to take students out of certain subjects for therapy. This includes reading, math, and specials (PE, music, art, etc.) While this does not leave therapists with much window of pull out time, this ensures that your child will not miss these subjects. The other option, is inclusion therapy. With this model, the therapist goes into the classroom to work with your child.

"Can you work with my child before/after school instead of during the day?"
No. I have asked this question to my supervisor before because my caseload was growing and I was told no. Students need to be seen during school hours only (bell to bell). In addition, a teacher's time before and after school is precious conference, IEP writing, and planning time. 

"My child qualifies for speech at a private clinic and my doctor write me a prescription for speech. When can he start receiving therapy at school?"
School based therapy and private practice therapy often have very different qualification procedures. Even if your pediatrician has written a prescription for therapy, that doest guarantee services. The school district needs to see if your child qualifies based on their own criteria. In my district, a student needs to receive a certain score on a standardized test and demonstrate that their speech/ language disorder is affecting them academically. The state will not allow students to be pulled out of class for therapy if their speech/language disorder is not affecting them in the classroom. 

"How long will my child be in speech?"
This is probably the most frequently asked question that an SLP is asked. The answer, unfortunately,  is not a clear one. Each child is different and each child's rate of success is different. There are, however,  some factors that I have learned that do contribute to a faster success rate. One is coming to therapy on a regular basis. Frequent absences do not help your child's progress in speech. When working in the schools, I always tried to communicate with parents what days/time their child would be coming to speech. With this information,  hopefully parents would take this into consideration when scheduling activities and/or doctors appointments. Another success factor is completing homework and practicing skills at home. When a child only practices skills in the speech room, they usually stay in the speech room. Kind of like, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" but not as fun. I have often conferenced with teachers to find that my "90% accuracy" in the speech room kiddo does not carry over any skills into the classroom or home. 

Please feel free to post any questions you frequently get asked or questions you are curious about! Have a wonderful weekend!

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