Using a Dinosaur Theme in Therapy!

Friday, August 17, 2018
I absolutely love using themes in therapy. I run my therapy sessions by themes.  They help keep me organized and focused on therapy activities. I also feel like themes give my students extra exposure to similar vocabulary. As a traveling SLP, themes help me limit the amount of materials I carry around. I use the same theme and books with all of my kids, I just adults the related activities I use based on their goals. I just wrapped up my dinosaur theme and I think this may have been my favorite theme so far! Here is what I did!
(This post contains Amazon Affiliate links which means if you purchase something using my link I may make a small commission)
All of my therapy sessions are built around books. I use a book in 99% of my therapy sessions. There are so many goals you can reach just but using a book. (You can check out a post I did on that here.) I typically read a new book every week with my students. Some books can be stretched out for 2 weeks. These are the books we have been using:

 Another thing I love to include while using themes is a sensory bin. With this sensory bin I used black beans and plastic dinosaurs. Thankfully I found a lots of dinosaurs in my kids' playroom, but Amazon has a ton available! This is a fun way to let the kids pretend play- which is a great language opportunity. We also discussed the differences in the dinosaurs, worked on prepositions, and sorted them by color and size.
A few years ago I happened to find a dinosaur popper at Walgreens. My kids love shooting the ball at target words (articulation, vocabulary, sight words, etc). I get a ton of practice out of them when the popper comes out! 
We also lined the cards up to make a path, for the dinosaur. Then we had the dinosaurs go on a "Dino Walk." The kids practiced their words as the plastic dinosaur walked down the path! 
If you know me, you know I love using PlayDoh in therapy! Especially with articulation. These Dinosaur Dash articulation mats from Texas Speech Mom were a total hit! We even used the dinosaurs to smash the ball of PlayDoh as they practiced their words!
 I keep all of my themes organized in a clear storage box. This keeps everything organized by theme and all of my related materials together. When it's time for a new theme, I simply take out a new box and put it in my trunk!  I use a 20qt clear bin that I found at Target. It is big enough to hold all of my themed materials but doesn't take up too much room in my car.

Beat the Heat: Freeze their Toys!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018
I live in Florida. It is hot. It is humid. And for some reason, my kids still want to go outside. I try to convince them of the joys of air conditioning, but those little rascals still want to be outside. So, I tried to come up with some ideas to help us beat the heat and stay cool while having fun outdoors. 
I am pretty excited to share with you one of these ideas. Ready for it?  I froze my kids toys. Yep. I had them help me collect small toys then I put them in ice trays with water and froze them. Sounds pretty evil when I say it out loud, but they absolutely loved it. Here is how it worked....
 The first thing I did was have the kids go on a "treasure hunt" to find me tiny toys from their playroom. Little mini cars, action figures, and legos worked best. I put them all into an ice tray, filled it with water, and put it all in the freezer for a few hours.
 A few hours later, I told the kids to grab some tools and meet me on the driveway. There, I made up a quick story about how Queen Elsa had frozen their toys and they were on a mission from Buzz & Woody to unfreeze them.  They bought right into it and went to work! 

  This activity kept them busy for quite a while. And my favorite part was all the amazing language opportunities it created. Using descriptive words like "cold," "hard" and "slippery." Requesting new tools. Problem solving. Realizing how body heat and the sun helped melt the ice faster than a hammer! Also, learning the value of teamwork! Mom win!!

A friend of mine saw my Instagram story about this and decided to freeze her son's toys too. But she put all the toys in a large ziplock bag and froze them. So her kids had to unfreeze a huge block of ice instead of small cubes. I may try her idea next time!
I'd love to hear your summer activities. Please share them in the comments :)

Mouse's First Spring!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018
I am a huge fan of thematic units! I love going along with my students' classroom themes and incorporating seasons and holidays into my therapy sessions. Spring has officially arrived here in Florida so I am in full spring mode. This past week we have been reading, Mouse's First Spring by Lauren Thompson. (This post contains Amazon affiliate links for your convenience. This means if you purchase something from my link, I may make a small commission.)
This is one of my favorite books to use with my younger students. In the story, little mouse and mama mouse go out for a walk. Mouse sees all sorts of spring creatures for the very first time.... butterflies, snails, and worms, oh my!
 This book is great for spring vocabulary, descriptive words, and story sequencing. I love having hands-on activities for my students when we read a story, so I created a set of story sticks to use with this book.
 The story sticks are free in my TpT shop and easy to assemble. After I print and laminate the story pictures, I attach them to a stick with velcro. I use a paint stirrer (you can get these for free from Home Depot or Lowes) That's it! It's a simple but effective activity for my students. And it doesn't take up a lot of room in my bag which is huge since I am constantly on the move to see my students.
I purchased the book on Amazon for under $7. You can find it here. 
You can find the story sticks, here!
PS- if you ever want to preview a book to see if it's one that's age appropriate or relevant to your students, look it up on YouTube. There are almost always videos of someone reading the book. Check it out before you buy!

Spring Sensory Bin!

Friday, March 9, 2018
It's almost spring! However, living in Florida, it's felt like spring has been here for a few weeks already. Enough so, that I have already opened up my my spring storage box full of books and activities. If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that over the past year I have been using sensory bins with my students to reach so many goals. I wanted to share with you a fun and inexpensive sensory bin that I used this past week!
One thing I love about sensory bins is that they don't have to be expensive to be functional. I got the base of my bin for $1.00. I chose to use the shredded paper grass that is typically used for easter baskets. What says "spring" more than green grass?! Some other ideas that come to mind are: rice or pasta died green, black beans to look like dirt, green yarn or cut up smoothie straws!
Next I went to my favorite place, the Target's dollar spot, to find fun spring fillers! 
Right now they have adorable felt flowers and food boxes. My friend Rachael from Texas Speech Mom has created some fun activities to use with these flower boxes. I love when I can repurpose anything to be used in more than one way, so I happily purchased these! 
While there, I also found squishy, stretchy caterpillars! These have been a huge hit with my kids. I immediately thought about using the food boxes with the caterpillars and using it while reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle!
These bins have been so much fun to use. I have used them as companions to stories we have read but also just used them for structured play activities. Sensory bins are fun to use while trying to obtain language samples because they really can elicit so much language (requesting, describing, sequencing, pretend play, etc)

Bjorem Speech Sound Cues

Monday, February 5, 2018
Let's chat visual cues today. Visual and verbal cues can be amazingly powerful tools to help your child reach their speech and language goals. But finding something that is engaging and that works isn't aways easy.
 I can't tell you the number of times I have hand drawn awkward pictures to help my students understand a sound. Or acted out a new vocabulary word (let me tell you, there were no Emmy awards given!) When I was working in the schools, I followed the kindergarten teachers' lead and incorporated gestures into letter names and speech sounds to give learning a multi-sensory approach. I love tying visuals and movement into my lessons because it works!
I recently learned about Bjorem Speech Sound Cue cards and have been using them in all of my articulation sessions! These cards are colorful and fun! Plus they are pocket size so they fit perfectly in my therapy bag. My students love using these and think they are fun. 
Each sound has a nickname ( the drum sound, popcorn sound, vacuum sound, mad cat sound- as shown in the video above) which gives each sound meaning. This is an important skill for children as they are learning letter sounds and how to read. 
 In addition to articulation therapy, these cards are fantastic to use when working with children with Apraxia/motor planning, phonological awareness, and literacy skills. Teachers, therapists, and parents could all use these with their children!
Bjorem Speech Sound Cue cards are recommended for children 18 months and up. This fabulous box of cards includes 22 consonants and 12 vowel cards. A picture is on the front of the card and a sound nickname and description is on the back. These cards are made from a very durable material. I carry these in my bag all over town with me and use them with children all day long.... and they are in great condition. You can purchase your own set, here! You will not be disappointed!
This post was sponsored by Bjorem Speech

Using The Mitten in Therapy!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018
I live in Florida, but lately it has felt like it should be snowing here! My native blood is not used to temps in the 40's! (I know, I am a total baby to all you Northerners!) But most of the time we are still wearing shorts and enjoying the beach in January, so snow is often a foreign concept to my students. I try to incorporate as many books and activities I can that will help them understand what winter is like in other parts of the world. 
This post contains Amazon Affiliate links for your convenience. This means if you purchase something using my link, I may receive a small commission. 
For years I have been using The Mitten by Jan Brett. I love this story because it gives great opportunities for story sequencing and vocabulary.  In the past I have always used print out characters from my story companion unit, but a few months ago I came across an adorable felt set! I found it on Facebook from a mom and daughter team called Pharmgal Crafts. 
It's easy to use one story or a theme and stretch it out over a few weeks!  This doesn't mean you have to read the book every time, although the kids do love hearing familiar stories. I have been able to use this mitten and character set to story sequence, practice following spatial directions (in, under, etc), and throw them into my "snowy" sensory bin! They kids love these and make story re-telling so much more fun. I also have a free Mitten smash mat that I like to use for sentence expansion, descriptive words, and vocabulary review.
I often use story books with my articulation students as well and my language kids. Books give you so many opportunities to practice good articulation. Sometimes we go on a 'word hunt' as we look and listen for words in the story with our target sounds. Other times I will read the story aloud and purposely mispronounce target sounds for my students to catch. Having your older students read aloud to you is a great way to practice carrying over their productions into reading. And since I am a sucker for a fun theme, I created Mitten ART-ticulation worksheets to go with this story! 
This is such a fun story to use in therapy. If you don't own the book, you can snag it on Amazon for under $4, here! What are some of your favorite winter themed books?

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