My Top Board Games of 2014!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014
This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. 
With our younger students, a game is what turns a boring day of articulation drill into the best day ever! My board game collection is forever growing. I am always on the hunt for a new game that will bring a breath of fresh air (and excited little ones) into my therapy sessions. I wanted to post my list of Top Board Games in 2014. This list doesn't necessarily include my favorite games, it's my students' favorites.
Since SLPs are always on the hunt for new, fun games to use in therapy, I thought I would make this a linky party. After all, I want to hear your favorites, too! To link up, write an original blog post that includes the linky graphic above.  Make sure the graphic links back to this blog post so others can find it and link up, too. In your post, list your board games of 2014 and make sure you link up at the bottom of this post to share!
In no particular order, here are the 6 games that were most requested in my speech room this year!
This is a simple game that can be used to target colors, counting, turn taking, sorting, and more. Throw in a deck of articulation cards, and it turns into a speech game, too!
My boys really like this game because they get to build bugs! To play, roll the dice and the number the dice lands on corresponds with a bug body piece. The first one to complete their bug wins!
This game was created by a kid- so of course it's fun! 
Oh Pop the Pig, what would I do without you? I have gotten so many stubborn little ones to willingly participate in therapy with this super fun game. Roll the dice, feed the pig, and wait for him to pop! 
There are a lot of good activities that go along with this game on TpT. Busy Bee Speech has a few! Check them out here! Knock out some ice blocks while you target some goals… I like it!
Here is another oldie but goodie that is also a hit with the boys. The game comes with some really gross stuff. I also like to add my own items into Ned's Head- articulation cards, vocabulary items, sensory items, objects that you can use for descriptive words, etc. 

I hope you will link up below because I would love to hear what your favorites are!! If you don't have a blog and can't link up, leave a comment below with your top board games of 2014!

If You Take a Mouse to the Movies… Holiday Craft & a Freebie!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014
This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.
Speech and crafts, they just seem to go together, don't they? I was so excited last week when I found glittery christmas trees and foam sticker ornaments on clearance at Joann's! Not that I needed an excuse to tie a Christmas craft into therapy, but this just went perfectly with the story,
In the story, the mouse wants to create ornaments for his christmas tree out of paper, glue, and glitter. He completely covers the tree in ornaments- so much that the top of the tree is tipped over! So the kids and I had a blast seeing how many ornaments we could fit on the tree, making it look just like the one in the story!
The craft worked perfect for all of my speech & language students. I was able to target: prepositions, requesting, labeling, sequencing, following directions, turn taking, and articulation goals with this activity. Check out some of our masterpieces!
 I also created a story sequencing activity to go with the book. You can download it for free in my TpT store by clicking the picture below.

Bringing Speech & Language into Your Own Home- Letting Mom (or Dad) be the SLP!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014
This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. 
I absolutely love using thematic units. I wish I could find a career where my entire job was to plan thematic units for kids. I'm talking a story that goes along with a lesson or skill. Then, a fun correlating activity. Or maybe if things get a little crazy, a matching snack and a movie. I love it. Thematic units are fun and they give the kids multiple exposures to vocabulary and skills you may be working on. Lucky for me, I do get to plan thematic units that go along with my students' speech and language goals. And guess what- this is something super easy, fun, and educational for parents to do at home with their kids, too. 
With winter break right around the corner, this is the perfect time to educate your students' parents on how to tie speech, language, and educational opportunities into their daily lives. I know that many parents are busy with a full schedule and full time jobs (trust me, I am one of them), but this doesn't have to be something that happens daily. When you have a free evening or a free afternoon, set some time aside for some fun, hands on learning. I am going to share an example below.
I always say, start off with a story. Last week, we read the story, Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett
This is a great holiday story that kids just love. Books give us an amazing opportunity to make predictions, use descriptive words, ask and answer WH-questions, practice reading skills, practice reading skills while using good speech, etc. Kids love reading with their parents, it's a great bonding time.
After you read a story, find a fun activity that is related to the same topic as the story. Moms and dads that are reading this- finding activities to go along with stories is much easier than you may think. Search Google, Pinterest, and Teachers Pay Teachers for some great, printable educational materials. For example, Whitney Smith, from Let's Talk, has a great story companion that goes along with Gingerbread Baby. After we read the story, we played a synonym matching game then compared and contrasted a gingerbread man vs. a gingerbread house. These are all great language opportunities.
Next comes the best part- the snack! What is a better snack when reading this story than decorating a gingerbread man?! Hands on, crafty activities can spark a lot of language in kids. In addition to their excitement, it's a great chance to work on requesting, vocabulary, descriptive words, story telling, sequencing, etc.
The picture below if of my daughter decorating a gingerbread man with her daddy. If you check craft stores around this time of year, everything holiday related is on sale.
This is just one example, there is so much out there that parents can do with their kids at home. Any opportunity to spend time with your children while working on speech and language skills is time well spent. Fun weekend or evening games, stories, and activities are things that your kids will remember forever. Why not have some fun and try out your best SLP skills at the same time? You may surprise yourself!

In My APPinion: Following Directions by Can Do Apps

Monday, December 15, 2014
Appy Monday!! Who's ready for another app review? I have been so behind on these since ASHA, so get ready for quite a few reviews to come your way soon. With that being said, this is a great time of year for app reviews because I am pretty sure a few of you have some apps on your Christmas list. Or maybe you will be lucky enough to receive an iTunes gift card this season! Apps make the best gifts for SLPs!!
I was pretty excited when the sweet people from Can Do Apps contacted me about reviewing their app, Following Directions, because I have multiple students on my caseload with following directions as goals. This app is very easy to navigate. When you open the app, you are brought to the screen shown below. This allows you to choose the specific target you want to use with your student(s). 

Before you get started, you are able to edit the settings by touching the gear icon on the top left side of the main screen. Doing this allows you to decide if you want the word prompts available and if you want your students to be reinforced for correct/incorrect answers. One feature I like in this app as far as settings, is that it makes you answer a simple math question before settings can be edited. I love that for my students that have litte wandering fingers :)
If you choose option #1, Touch The _____. Your student will be given 10 prompts that look like the one below. If you choose in the settings to have the words present, the prompt will be written above the pictures. The auditory prompt will not play unless you hit the circle sound icon at the top of the screen. I personally like the fact that the prompt is not automatically given when the new screen pops up. This lets me ensure that the child is ready to listen and is focused before the prompt is given. It also allows me to read the prompt instead of using the pre-recorded one, if I choose. 
Below is a screen show from option #2, Touch the ___ and then the ___.
The screenshot below is from option #3, Before Statements.
#4, After Statements
#5 Before and After Statements
At the end of each section, you are prompted with a score sheet to let you and your student know how he/she did on these tasks. 
I have used this app multiple times in therapy and I think that it is great and definitely worth the price. This is a simple app that is easy to use and navigate without having to watch a tutorial. The pictures are clear, colorful, and engaging for students. I have used this app as both a teaching and assessment tool. The only suggestions I would make for this app are:
-Have the option to store student data.
-Have the option to combine different following direction prompts.
You can learn more and download this app in the iTunes store, here! 

What's In Your Early Intervention Therapy Bag?

Thursday, December 11, 2014
This post contains Amazon Affiliate links for your convenience. 
I love working with my early intervention clients! I love watching these little ones learn and explore language right before my (and often time, mom's) eyes! The best part? Therapy involves lots and lots of toys! Recently I have noticed a lot of posts in Facebook groups where other SLPs are asking, "What's in your therapy bag?" or "What are your go-to items for therapy with early intervention kids?" I always end up following these posts because like other therapists, I want to know what you use. I am always looking for new, fun toys that will elicit more language! So, I decided to create a blog post about what I have in my bag. I am making this a linky party so you can link-up and check out what other SLPs have in their "Bag of Tricks," too!
To link up, write an original blog post that includes the linky graphic below. Make sure the graphic links back to this blog post so others can find it and link up, too. In your post, list your favorite early intervention materials. Make sure you link up at the bottom of this post and share!
First up, Shape Sorter
This colorful shape sorter can be used to work on so many concepts: colors, shapes, matching, same/different, stacking, in/out concepts, following directions… to name a few! I have also started co-treating with an occupational therapist on our team and learned how important toys like the can be to work on crossing mid-line and other motor goals. When this toy is a hit, I often pair it with this free Fisher-Price app: Laugh & Learn

Another must-have in my bag is, Baby Einstein books!
Books in general are good, however, there is something about these Baby Einstein books that just draw kids in. I received some of these books at my daughter's baby shower and by the time she was 3 months old, she was drawn to these books. I love using them for receptive and expressive vocabulary. 

I haven't met a kid yet that doesn't love a good ole See 'n Say!
These are great for teaching animals and the sounds they make, but also great for imitation and sound discrimination. 
Going along with the animal theme, I also love using a Farm House!
This doesn't necessarily fit inside my therapy bag well, but it's on my must-have list. These farm houses  bring out a lot of language while you role play taking care of the animals, learn animal names, practice requesting, work on prepositions (the horse is "on" the barn, the chicken is "in the nest"), and more. 

Another favorite of mine, although not always one of mom's, is Play-Doh!
My 2 year old daughter is in a giant Play-Doh phase right now, which is what inspired this to be a part of my bag. In addition to talking about the colors and how it feels, I love using the molds or baking tools to work on following directions. Play-Doh is another great tool to work on requesting with. 

A huge fan favorite for most of my students, is Toy Food
I love the Melissa & Doug products, but any kind of plastic/wooden, fake food is fine. Again, this is a great tool to use for requesting, following directions, sorting, role playing, etc. I like to pair the fake food with Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head and have a picnic! I also love using this with my feeding therapy/food aversion clients. Letting them have fun with food, pretend cook, and feed other toys, helps take away the tension that meal time often brings for them. 
These are some of my favorite toys to use with my early intervention clients! I hope you will link up because I would love to see what you use in your therapy sessions!

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