Using Timers in Therapy and at Home!

Monday, December 19, 2016
Timers have been a saving grace for me as both a therapist and as a mom. I use a timer on a regular basis and for SO many reasons. In therapy I use a timer for keeping kids on track and focused on a task for a certain amount of time, for alerting me when the session is over, for alerting the students when their work time is up and they get the reward they were working for. At home I use a timer to help speed up my slow eater at dinner time when we have dance class in an hour, so my daughter will brush her teeth for more than 12 seconds, and so I don't burn dinner! It's a beautiful thing when you can use the techniques you use in therapy at home with your own children! 
I have used many different timers over the years, but I just recently learned about Outloud Timer 2 and I am in love. This timer is a visual timer. I have used a countdown timer before, but this one gives younger children that don't quite understand that concept a true understanding of time and how much time they have left on a task. 
When you open the app, it prompts you to set a time. This can be in minutes or seconds. After the timer is set, you will see an outdoor scene. You or the child can draw a path anywhere on the screen for the penguin to go. After the path is drawn, the penguin starts his journey to the circus tent!
I love this app because my daughter and students can really understand how much time they have left since they can see how fast the penguin is moving and how far away the penguin is from the tent while he/she is working. The number countdown is still available at the bottom right side of the screen, but where the penguin is on the screen is such as great visual for younger kids!
Once the timer is up, stars fly across the screen and the children will hear applause! 
The Outloud Timer2 app is available in the iTunes store. You can download it on both the iPad and your iPhone. I love having it on my phone for spontaneous needs of a timer! Check out more about this app in the iTunes store, here!
Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this app in exchange for a review, however, all opinions expressed in this review are my own. 


Gone Fishin' for Good Speech!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Maybe it's just me, but I have a habit of rotating therapy games. Since I am a traveling SLP, I can't carry my entire inventory of games on me at all times (trust me, I have tried!) So I tend to carry the same game or two around with me for a few weeks before I switch it out for another. 
(This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. That means if you purchase something from Amazon using my link, I my earn a few bucks!)
Lately, this Let's Go Fishing game has been a HUGE hit and requested daily. When the kids love a game this much, my first reaction is to create an activity that will allow them to use the beloved game while working on their goals at the same time. 
So I created Gone Fishing for Articulation Mats! To play, have your students take turns fishing. When they catch a fish, have them put the fish on the mat on top of one of the target words. They can practice the word or make up a sentence for the word, depending on their skill level. But there really are a ton of ways you can use these mats, I have even used them as smash mats!
My daughter got this game for Christmas last year and loved it so much, I knew my students would too. I found the game on Amazon for $7.99! You can check it out, here.  Happy fishing!!

Why I Love Smarty Symbols!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Visual supports are a huge part of my daily life. I use them with my children, my students, and even for myself. Like many of my students, I am a visual learner. Research shows that visuals help us retrieve and retain information better. Words are something that are abstract. So when we can provide a visual support for a child, they have a better chance of understanding the concept.
On a regular basis I use visual schedules and supports with my students. I enjoyed creating these to use in therapy, at school, to create activities for TpT, and visuals to use at home. The hard part has always been finding clip art that relates to the activities I need to add to the product. It's not so easy to find clipart out there for remembering to put the lid back on the peanut butter jar or going to speech therapy. Which is why I was so excited when I learned about Smarty Symbols.
Smarty Symbols is a huge library of symbols and images that teaches and therapists would use on a regular basis. And when I say huge, I mean huge. They currently have over 19,000 images available. I have used Smarty Symbols to create countless visuals for my students such as: 
-Visual reminders
-Classroom rules
-Sentence strips
-Therapy activities
-Vocabulary cards
-Step by step directions
...just to name a few
Smarty Symbols has been a great tool to have right at my fingertips. In addition to being able to create you own visuals on their website, there is an activity library where you can share and download materials other educators have created! It's a fantastic community of educators.
You can learn more about Smarty Symbols and their memberships by visiting their website, here. But guess what?! They are letting me give a 1 year personal subscription to Smarty Symbols to one of you! How exciting is that? Enter below, winners will be announced Monday!


My Favorite Therapy Game, KAPOW!

Friday, October 28, 2016
I am constantly on the hunt for any fun ways to get my students excited about therapy, especially articulation. I have a love/hate relationship with articulation therapy. There is so much room for creativity when planning your sessions, but the games and crafts can get old quick. 
(This post contains Amazon Affiliate links which means if you purchase something from my link, I may get a few bucks!)
For years I have been playing a game called Kaboom! If you haven't heard of it, it is simply a game that requires popsicle sticks and a container. Target words are written on the popsicle sticks. Students take turns choosing a stick out of the container (I use a recycled 32oz yogurt container.) If they say their word correctly, they keep the stick. If they don't they put it back. (Now here comes the fun part!) If they pick a stick that says KABOOM on it, they have to yell KABOOM and put all their sticks back. So simple, right? But I swear the kids LOVE this game and you can elicit SO many good speech sounds in a short amount of time... data win!! I did not come up with this game, another fabulously creative teacher did, but I have seen this game used for letters, sight words, addition facts... anything!
The best part about this game is that it can be used for SO many goals. The bad part about this game was that I was purchasing way too many sticks and running out of room to store them. You can check out my blog post about this game from 2013 here. This was when I first started using the game and my baggie method of organizing the popsicle sticks were working. Throw in some mixed articulation groups and 7 different Kaboom game versions and that method quickly failed me.
So flash forward to 3 years later and I finally came up with a way to organize my sticks. In fact, the new and improved game I now call, KAPOW! Only requires 25-30 sticks. I created target pictures/cards that I organize in a binder and attach to the sticks with velcro. (I bought a giant roll of velcro dots on Amazon for under $15)The game can be changed in a snap depending on what goal you are addressing.
I am so excited to have this new and improved version of the game and I am very excited to share it with you! You can download KAPOW from my TpT store by clicking, here! 


Earn CEU's From Your Couch with the Hanen Center

Friday, September 16, 2016
Raise your hand if the thought of earning enough CEU's by your deadline gives you a headache. Finding time to go to courses to earn credits needed can be challenging these days. I love being able to go and meet with other SLPs as we learn together, but that's not always possible. I am alway looking online for CEUs that are engaging and affordable. I am very excited to partner up with The Hanen Center again to share some great e-seminars they offer as a way to get CEU's!
If you have not heard of The Hanen Center, they are a non-profit organization who's mission is to provide parents, caregivers, and educators the training and knowledge to help children with language, social, and literacy skills.
Over the last few weeks I have been reviewing two of Hanen's online e-seminars:
Making Book Reading a Time for Interaction & Conversation and Making Words Sparkle for Preschool & Kindergarten Children: Bringing Vocabulary to Life During Book Reading and Daily Interactions.  I have been incredibly impressed with the seminars. One thing I really love when being in live seminars or watching online, is when the speaker shows video clips from therapy sessions of the techniques they refer to in action. There have been plenty of video clips in the two seminars I viewed. These seminars are presented by an SLP so they are full of valuable information that will benefit our field. It was so nice being able to sit down on the couch with a cup of coffee while the baby napped and earn continuing education credits.
If you visit the online training portion of the website, you can check out the entire list of e-seminars available that address language delay, autism spectrum disorder, and language & literacy. Each seminar is worth 0.2 CEU's. You have the option to view them live or recorded. As a working mom, finding recorded options is always a plus! 
Go check out their amazing resources, I would love to hear what you think of them. 
As an added bonus, use the code: SIMPLYSPEECH30 until to get 30% off the following seminars:
(Offer ends October 7, 2016)


Data Tracking Made Easy for the Traveling SLP!

Thursday, September 1, 2016
Being a private SLP that travels to see children in their homes and schools definitely has it's perks. I love the one on one attention I can give each child. I also love being able to see them in their environment and really work on language experiences that are important to them. Plus, no car duty!
But like any good thing, there are also drawbacks. For example, today we are expecting a tropical storm and the roads are flooded. So I am home with a cup of coffee blogging... well I guess that's not such a bad day. But in all honesty, one thing that has been difficult for me is keeping good data records while being in a new place every hour. I really love when students can keep track of their own data. It gives them a sense of ownership and motivation towards their goals. When I was working in the schools I had data charts that the students worked on weekly displayed on the walls.  I can't really wallpaper my car with those. So after brainstorming ideas, I came up with mini goal tracking books!
 These goal books are small and kept together on a binder ring. But they pack all the punch of what I was missing from my classroom. On each data ring I have a graph for each individual goal I set for them as well as a written goal set by the student. The student set goal is probably my favorite page of the book. It gives me a really clear picture of why each child thinks that he/she is in speech and what is important to them to work on. Maybe it's working hard on their /r/ sound when they read out loud in class or maybe it's using good social skills at lunch. If it's important to them, it's important to me!
 The individual goal graphs have been a total timesaver when it comes time for re-evaluations. It's so convenient take out that particular student's goal book to report on goals. I have been guilty of falling into a rut of working on the same goals for a long time and neglecting others. Since each goal page has it's own page on the ring, it's very easy to see which goals still need to be addressed. Win, win!
Since these goal books are small, I have been able to keep them in a small container with a lid. That way they don't get messed up and don't take up much space while being stored in my car. 
You can download you own copy of these books in my TpT store, here!

The BEST Gifts for New SLP Grads!

Monday, August 15, 2016
It's that time of year. Graduation is upon us. New SLP's are trying on their caps and gowns, completing resumes, and practicing their new name with 'CF-SLP' behind it! It's such an exciting time. But what do you get this new grad that will help them on their new and exciting journey they are about to endure? Here are some ideas!
This post contains Amazon Affiliate links for your convenience. This means if you purchase something from the links provided, I may make a small commission. 
Personalized Gifts! Nothing is better than showing of your new letters on all of your stuff. Bags, cups, notebooks... anything you can slap an 'SLP' logo on. I recently came across The Crafty SLP on Instagram. She makes some great stuff including tumblers with your name written in phonetics! No doubt an SLP would swoon over one of these! You can check out her Etsy shop, here! She also has tote bags and other fun goodies that would make great gifts!
A Good Planner! My planner is like my bible. I keep it with me all the time. It's color coded and is what keeps me sane and organized. But make sure it's a pretty planner because this new SLP will be using it a lot! One of my favorites is the Erin Condren Life Planner. The planner can be customized and personalized, too! Use this link and get $10 off your order! 
A Laminator. This is mostly the case for an SLP going into the school setting or that will be working with children. I use my laminator daily for therapy games and activities that I make or download. On second thought, you might want to add in some printer ink with this gift, too. You can find laminators for a very reasonable price on Amazon. Check out a bunch of them, here!
A Large Tote Bag. SLPs carry around a ton of stuff. A large, durable bag is super important. Sometimes I even carry around two! My favorite bags are the organizing totes by Thirty One Gifts. I have been using my bag for over 3 years and it's still in great condition! 

A Membership to As a new grad, you are now left to complete all kids of paperwork, get your provisional license, create a resume, find a supervisor, and land your first job on your own. I was lucky enough to be a part of a new website called that is an online class with so much information about surviving your 9 months after grad school as you complete your CF! I wish this was around when I graduated. This class is normally $49 but is offering FREE membership to the next 300 students to register. So go now! 
Peachie Speechie T-Shirts!
The Peachie Speechie is a fellow SLP blogger  that designs the cutest t-shirts. Any new SLP would love to have one (or 4) of these shirts to wear to their new job. They are perfect for casual Friday. Check out all of her designs, here.  The Peachie Speechie is offering free shipping August 15-19 with the code: SHIPLESS 

Gift Cards. You really can't go wrong with a gift card whether it be to Starbucks, Target, Amazon, iTunes (for all those fun, new speech apps) or to Teachers Pay Teachers (for a TON of great therapy materials made by fellow SLPs!) 
An iPad. Yes an iPad is expensive but it will possibly be the most used gift your new SLP will use (well, maybe a close second to their planner!) I use my iPad for emails, to keep data, to communicate with parents, and for a TON of speech and language interactive apps. An iPad mini may be even better for those traveling SLPs that will be toting their iPad around a lot. You can check some out on Amazon, here. 
Cute Notebooks! We SLPs write a lot! May it be therapy notes or to-do lists, we fill notebooks up quickly. One of my favorite ideas for a new notebook is to write down memorable moments or funny things that kids say. Erin Condren has some super cute notebooks that you can personalize. If you can't tell, I am a big fan of her stuff! Again, you can use this link for $10 off your order!

This is such a fun and exciting time in a new grads life. Let's all celebrate together the people who will be making a huge impact on other's lives. Happy graduation class of 2016!

FREE First Day Posters!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Today was the first day of school. My baby is in pre-k and will be on to kindergarten next year. I am not one of those moms that cries when they drop their child off at school. Instead I am just as excited, almost like it's my first day at school! Today was no different. I love how much she loves school!
Before we hit the road and headed off to school I took a traditional "first day of school" photo out in front of the house. I absolutely love all of the first day signs that have taken over Pinterest the last few years. So of course I made some of my own. 

I even made one for the first day of speech. It's so much fun to see how much a child grows from the first day of school to the last. What's a better way to document it than with a fun photo?
I added these signs to my store for all grades preschool-5th. A speech one is in there too :)
You can download them for free in my store by clicking on the image below. 
Have a happy first day of school!


2017 Hanen Calendar Giveaway!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Can you believe it's already August? This year is flying by. I rely on my planners and calendars to keep my life in order so I am super excited about this giveaway from The Hanen Center. The Hanen center is a non-profit organization who's mission is to provide parents, caregivers, and educators the training and knowledge to help children with language, social, and literacy skills. Trying to keep school, dance practices, soccer games, and speech sessions on a schedule is hard enough. Throw in some one on one time with your child to enrich their language skills and you have a full day. The Hanen Center created a wonderful calendar with language tips and ideas that can easily be tied into your busy day! Let me show you more...

Each month has a theme that focuses on a specific skill that children need. A few examples are: following the child's lead in conversation, expanding he child's message, and building their everyday vocabulary. There is also a research based description explaining why that skill is important. 

Within each calendar month you will see tips and activity ideas that can be applied at home or in the classroom to enrich the child's language. 
As speech therapists we know the importance of taking advantage of every teachable moment. Good language skills need to be carried into the home and not just practiced during therapy sessions. Often parents think they need fancy articulation cards and expensive toys to help their child. I love how this calendar makes it so easy to tie these skills into daily life.
The Hanen Center has so kindly offered to send a calendar to two of you! This is the perfect calendar for back to school!! 
Enter below, I will announce a winner Friday! Good luck!!


Get Organized in Style This Year!

Friday, July 29, 2016
It's almost that time of year.... back to school time! I don't work in the schools anymore but I cannot help but get giddy when I see school supplies. This time of year always motivates me to reorganize and put myself back in order. You should see my desk right now. Chaos!

A few weeks ago I found these insanely adorable clipart pages from Tracey Gurley Designs and could not resist snagging some pages up. I am a huge Lilly Pulitzer fan so of course I instantly fell in love and created binder covers. 
Binders are my saving grace for staying organized. Give me a cute cover, some dividers, and page protectors and I am a happy girl. I have binders for my student data, a binder for my students' goals (that's also where I keep notes and go-to activities/worksheets for them). I keep a binder for all the hiring information I use for the company I work for. I even have a binder just for my smash mats :)
I added these to my store and made them editable so you can customize them to your needs! 
You can download your own copy, here!
If you download them and use them to organize your binders, please tag me in a photo! I'd L-O-V-E to see what you do with them :)


Articulation MOVE!

Thursday, July 28, 2016
Not a day goes by that I don't hear something on the news or from a student about the Pokemon Go app! I have not personally played it, but I can feel the excitement about the game so I decided to make a speech version! I thought this would be the perfect back to school game to get your students excited about speech... I would like to introduce you to Articulation MOVE!
This activity includes a cell phone for each child and adorable little articulation monsters. Before you play, print, cut, and laminate the phones and monsters. I cut out the middle section of the phones so can see through them. 
Before the students come into your room, hide the monsters around the room. Then, give each child a phone and let them go hunting for target speech words! This activity includes sounds for /p, b, d, t, m, n, w, s, z, sh, ch, th, and r/ so you can use this with large groups or even for center work!
I also included some accountability worksheets so the kids can record the words they found. I included a worksheet for listing the words, recognizing their target sound in the words, and making a sentence for the words they find. 

I plan on making versions of this game for letters, sight words, basic concepts, and other common goals. Please comment below and let me know what goal you could use this with!
You can download your own copy of Articulation Move in my TpT store here! 
It's 50% off for the next 24 hours!


TpT Conference Orlando 2016... The Best Lesson I Learned

Monday, July 18, 2016
Last year when I found out that the Teachers Pay Teachers conference was going to be in Orlando this year, I was beyond excited. TpT has been a huge part of my life the last 3 years. There was no way I was going to miss the opportunity to learn from some of TpT's greatest teacher authors when they were practically in my own backyard.
I would have to say my favorite part of the conference was getting to be with some of my most favorite people in the world, my SLP blogging tribe. I love these girls more than I can express. We are spread out all over the country but these ladies have helped motivate me and have molded me into the therapist I am today.
 If I were to write a blog post about all the amazing things I learned at the conference, this post would be 500 pages long. But there was one thing that a certain speaker said that really spoke to me. I was sitting in Shelly Rees presentation about product planning. She shared a personal story about her TpT journey and her success. But then she added... "This was my season. Today isn't everybody's season." Amen. Isn't that the truth? I am constantly trying to keep up with crazy successful sellers. I feel guilty when I only blog once a month (If I am lucky!) But I have two small children at home. I work. I mentor. I am a soccer mom. A dance mom. A baseball mom. I have a full plate. I absolutely love every part of my life, but maybe this time isn't my season on TpT. So I decided to stop pressuring myself to be one of the best (I think perfectionism comes with an SLPs personality type!) My time will come. I think this is something we can all carry into our lives. Don't compare yourself to your coworkers, other moms, etc. We all have our own story and our own busy lives. Embrace what's going on in your life right now and be the best at that. The rest will come later.

...and on the note, the baby is up from his nap. I'm coming Kameron! :)
Psst... one more thing. I am still on a conference high and want to share the love. I am giving away $10 TpT gift cards on my Instagram (@simply_speech) right now. Go enter, winners will be announced Tuesday!
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