Fave Fashion Friday! {Guest Post by Jenna Laird!}

Friday, December 20, 2013

Happy Friday!! I am super excited to introduce my guest post author to you all today. Jenna Laird is a preschool SLP that I found on Instagram (don't you love social media?) Jenna is hands down the cutest dressed SLP I have ever seen. I love her style... she has inspired my new addiction to J. Crew :) I was thrilled when Jenna agreed to write a guest post for Fave Fashion Friday. I know you will enjoy her post, too!
PS- for the record, I totally agree with Jenna's philosophy: 
when you dress better, you feel better, and when you feel better, you do better.” 

Fave Fashion Friday:
Finding Your Personal Style
Jenna Laird              
instagram: mrslairdypants

Kristin’s  blog is definitely one of my go-to’s for therapy materials, so when she approached me to write a post for Fave Fashion Friday, of course I said yes!
I am a speech therapist and currently have a preschooler-only caseload.  I love it! From their funny stories and adorable giggles, to getting down on my hands and knees to play an intriguing game of Mr. Potato Head, it is a dream! With that in mind, I also have a true passion for fashion and a love for all things design.  When I started working in the field, I was always worried about looking professional because I wanted to be taken as a professional, and just as important, be treated as a professional.  Since then, I have learned that it is just as important to look and be professional as it is to feel comfortable and true to who you are.  My philosophy has always been that,  “when you dress better, you feel better, and when you feel better, you do better.”  It sounds a little dramatic and simple but I really do believe in the importance of personal style. Maybe you are a lover of bright, fun, and patterned clothing just like me. Or maybe you are not. Either way, I am sharing a few tips on defining your own personal style. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Often I feel like I am in a fashion rut.  Maybe it seems that I wear the same thing all of the time [uh, hello polka dot button up shirt]. Or things just aren’t looking the way they did in my head [why did I buy those pants again?].  This is when I happily turn to catalogs, magazines, Pinterest, and personal shoppers at retail locations. Did you know that many retailers today offer free styling appointments? Bring in your favorite pieces you already own and they will help you style them with what you have or may even entice you to add a few new things to spice it up! Don’t be afraid to look for other resources even if it is just the Internet for a little inspiration. If we always had to rely on our own fashion advice, where would the fun be in all of that? Personal style should be something that is an exciting confidence builder that helps you feel true to you.

Clearly we all do not have bottomless bank accounts that allow us to go out to buy an entire wardrobe every time we feel like there’s nothing to wear.  This is why having our personal style is so important and where our creative juices come out to play. We are all talented and creative in our professional lives, so it is only natural to get creative in our personal lives!  Your closest holds a world of possibilities! Sometimes you just need to take another look and think of different ways that you can wear the same items.  Maybe you have a really cute button up that you wore last week with a pair of trousers. This week layer it with a cardigan or sweater with a different color or style of pants.  Maybe add a scarf for a pop of color and don’t be afraid to mix patterns together [i.e. think stripes and polka dots]. Personal style isn’t about breaking the bank.  You don’t need to dress fancy, you just need to stay true to you!

When searching for your personal style, it is important to keep your inspiration in mind. Maybe you love a new trend but don’t think that it will look good on YOUR body. The important thing to remember is: try it on. If it isn’t you, than at least you gave it a shot and leave no doubt in your mind.  For myself personally, I like pieces that are somewhat timeless but still fun. I love a patterned button up or a bright colored sweater because it means that I can make a number of outfits out of four or five pieces.  Let’s not even talk about my love for colored ballet flats!  Switch a different color out and hello colorful and snazzy new look! Perfect for working with my little preschool friends! I am a fan of jewelry but when working with kids I realize that it is not always practical.  In that sense, I may just wear a pair of gold studs or a pendant necklace and put it in my shirt when I am working with a student who may find it a bit distracting. 

At the end of the day, having personal style is all about defining you as an individual. It is not about focusing on what we don’t have. It is about having confidence and accepting yourself for who you are flaws and all.  Now let’s get out there and have a little fun!  Like my personal style or just need a little outfit inspiration? Follow me on Instagram: mrslairdypants. 

Fun & FREE Christmas Apps for Therapy!

Monday, December 16, 2013
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! I can just feel Christmas break upon us. Are you having lots of holiday fun in your therapy sessions? My kids can't talk about much more than Christmas, presents, their Elf, etc. so I decided to embrace their excitement. I searched the iTunes store and downloaded as many free Christmas apps as I could find. After an evening of feeling like a kid testing out my new apps, 8 apps made the final cut.!

When trying out new apps, there are a few things that I look for. First, I decide if the app will be educational in some way. Even the apps that are used as a treat at the end of the session, still have to have some educational value to it. I also look for apps that do not have crazy distracting ads popping up left and right. Unfortunately, that is a common thing among the free apps (they're free, I get it) but my caseload is 99% preschool. They don't always understand what parts of the app are off limits. The third thing I look for is, is it easy to use and fun? If I'm bored, chances are the kids are bored. So below is my list of Fun & Free Christmas Apps for Therapy!
This app is at the top of my list (literally!) This is a super cute app that lets your kids choose a Christmas tree and decorate it. It's simple, but allows you to target spatial concepts, colors, descriptive words, and sequencing.  
This app allows you to decorate your own gingerbread man (or lady!) You get to choose hair, eyes, nose, mouth, clothing, and accessories for your cookie! The best part? You get to eat the cookie when you are finished! There is an ad that pops on when the app is first opened and one at the bottom while you are playing. My kids were able to play this game easily without taking my iPad shopping :)

Do your little ones love completing puzzles on the iPad? Mine have had an obsession with puzzles lately, so naturally, I had to find a holiday puzzle app. This app includes 4 festive puzzles (more puzzles for $) After the puzzle is completed, the puzzle becomes interactive and the picture comes to life!

This is an interactive Christmas story with the "Read It Myself" or "Read to Me" options. The read to myself option is great for the older kids working on articulation carryover. Also included in the story are games that can be played related to the part of the story you are reading. The games include: find the item, counting, jigsaw puzzle, paint, match it, and memorize and place. This app also has an ad that pops on when the app is first opened and one at the bottom while you are playing. 

Simply put, this app is a Christmas version of the game memory (or concentration, which ever you prefer!) You have the option to choose an easy or hard option which determines the number of cards to play with.  This app has very cute graphics and calm Christmas music playing as you play. This would be a good game for memory skills, turn taking, and vocabulary with little ones. 

My students love apps where they get to cook or bake. I have two other  apps where kids get to make pizza and popsicles that are requested frequently. This app is no exception. Students get to put ingredients in the bowl, mix them up, bake, and decorate their own cake. There are quite a few items locked in this app, but even my young kids were able to make quite impressive cakes with what is available. 

This app targets preschool receptive language- specifically colors, shapes, numbers, letters, and other basic concepts. Frosty prompts a question with, "Which one is....." and gives answer choices. If the student answers correctly, Frosty jumps up and cheers. After a certain number of questions, your students gets to choose a prize! 

Last but not least, this is a fun app that lets your kids complete puzzles and color pictures. The majority of this app is locked, but even the 3 puzzles available for free allows for a lot of interactive fun. 

Oh I almost forgot! This isn't an app for the kids but it allows you to make fun and festive monogram backgrounds for your iphone or iPad! Totally feeds my obsession with chevron and monograms. Check out the one I made below :) This version is free so it's limited... I'm sure I'll end up buying the full version soon. So fun!

Any apps you love to use this time of the year that I didn't mention? Please share them below!

She's Baaaaaack! {Old Lady Activity Pack Giveaway!}

Thursday, December 12, 2013
This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.
Only 13 days till Christmas!! Have your therapy sessions been FILLED with as many festive activities as possible? Mine have. I love this time of year and I want to fit in as many holiday themed activities as possible before the new year (not that my kids mind playing Christmas games in July!) 
This week we read the story, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell!
Since the kids always like love reading these Old Lady books, I figured I would try to hit as many of their goals as possible while reading the story. So... I created a collection of speech & language extension activities!
Check it out :)
Here is what's included in the packet:
 Large story sequencing Activity
Print, cut, and laminate. Have your students “feed” the lady the items as you read the story. These can also be used as vocabulary cards.

Student Story Sequence Activity
Let your students demonstrate their story sequencing skills as they put the story in order. Pictures are black and white so they can color in the pictures when they are done.

  Cover The Dots!
Have your students cover the dots with chips, markers or even better- candy! as they correctly practice a target word or answer a question!
 Color the Story
Have your students work on vocabulary as they color in the pictures as they read about them in the story. 

Articulation Coloring Sheet
Have some fun while you do a little "skill and drill" therapy. As your students practice each articulation target, have them color in 1 picture. If they complete the whole sheet, they practiced 60 targets!

Story Scavenger Hunt
Who doesn't love a good scavenger hunt? Have your students search the story for words that contain their target sound!

Mini Book
Students can illustrate a mini version of the story. Great for story retell, articulation practice, and homework!

Have your students practice prepositions/ spatial skills with vocabulary from the story.
Have your students practice pronouns with vocabulary from the story. Tell your student who to give the item to. For example, “Give the bows to her.” He/she should give the bows to the picture of the lady.
 Following Directions!
Read the instructions provided for your students to follow or make up your own!

You can download this activity in my TpT store here!
Feeling lucky? Enter below to win a copy! If you are my winner and you already purchased this activity, you can choose another product from my store.
Good luck and Happy Holidays!!

13 Books That Bring Holiday Cheer to Your Speech Room!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013
This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.
Happy Monday!! I cannot believe Thanksgiving has now come and gone. I feel like I wait all year for the holiday season to come and then it is gone in a flash. Lucky for us, we still have a few weeks to fill our speech rooms with more holiday cheer! I asked my blogging besties to help me out again and add some of their favorite winter holiday book recommendations to my list. I learn so much from these fellow SLP bloggers and because of their recommendations, my Amazon cart is now full again!
My recommendation is Stone Soup by Ann Mcgovern
Jenna Rayburn from Speech Room News recommends 
Shannon Lisowe from Speech Musings recommends
Kristin Minden recommends Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdeny

Whitney Smith from Let's Talk recommends Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett

I hope this list makes your next few weeks of planning a little easier and maybe gives you a little motivation, too! Was your favorite left off the list? Please share!
Happy Holidays my friends!!

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