Thursday, August 30, 2012

Life's little surprises...ROCK!

So I have some really terrific news!!!! (At least, for my coworkers and myself.) I get to go to the ASHA convention in November!!!!! My district is even covering our gas and food, which was completely unexpected with the price of registration and a hotel room. I've literally been floating on cloud 9 since we found out yesterday.

In case you don't know what I'm rambling about, the American Speech & Hearing Association holds a national conference each year in a different state/city. It's attended by more than 12,000 SLPs, audiologists, and scientists in our field according to the website. The convention is a place to get CEUs (mine won't count until January which stinks), meet potential employers from across the nation, and get free stuff. My view of it at this point is a magical land where you get sprinkled with the SLP-fairy dust of knowledge. 

It's been a while since the convention has been held close to my state so none of my coworkers have ever attended one. They've all attended the state's convention though. I'm the only one who hasn't been to that so I'm completely clueless as to how these things work. November cannot get here soon enough. 

In other news, I have yet to start on the 4th and 5th grade language goal bank. Hearing screenings have just completely zapped my energy. Does anyone else have that problem? I never feel this wiped out after evaluations and those are much more mentally taxing. My audiometer is apparently tired of it too. It started blinking like crazy on me even after I gave it new batteries. No one could figure out what's wrong with it so the audiologist is going to send it off somewhere. I think it's just possessed. Thankfully, today was the last day of our mass screening and I told the teachers at my school that I will re-screen in 2-4 weeks. 

To celebrate the end of hearing screenings, here is a crafty tip to make Parts of Speech Cubes:

These are the store bought kind. Mine are blue.
1. Package of foam counting cubes from the Dollar Tree (I think Target also sold these)
1. Sharpie

Take two (or more if you want) blocks and the sharpie. Write a different part of speech on each side of the blocks. Make sure you give each side time to absorb the ink to avoid smearing. 

You can use these blocks to brainstorm different words for each category or to develop a sentence. 

The foam blocks are also great for making phonics cubes, visual phonics cubes (if you do that), question cubes...etc. I love easy crafts! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

That's not my.....

Last year, I did not fully comprehend the value of board books as embarrassed as I am to say it. I guess I was naive and thought that they were just meant for babies. Usborne helped me overcome that belief with this series.

That's not my....dinosaur/mermaid/tractor/etc...happen to be great for introducing younger students to adjectives in a fun manner. The books have fun pictures and are the perfect length for the short attention spans of kindergartners. The students are able to actually feel a variety of textures (guess I'm stating the obvious) that give them a concrete idea of what "rough" or "bumpy" actually is rather than me telling them. For example:

The following dinosaurs are described in the book above (which I scored for $2 at Goodwill vs. the $4 on Amazon)
- a tail that is too fuzzy
- teeth that are too bumpy
- flippers that are too slippery
- horns that are too rough 
- spines that are so soft

For parents of young children (babies included), these books are a great way to introduce language in a multi-sensory manner. They have appeal for both boys and girls with stories about kittens, dogs, fairies, and monsters. The essential vocabulary presented in this series is something that your child will encounter early on in life as they try to tell you about objects/people that they see. Repetition with new words is a key component of learning so I would read and re-read these books to your child. It's a very magical moment when children pick up a beloved book and pretend to read it back to you from memory. 

In other news, one middle school down and one to go! The hearing screening went fairly well. We had 2-3 students trying to pull our legs about whether or not they had been screened. (Ah, the amusements of middle schoolers.) My only complaint is that teachers sometimes forget that everyone needs to be quiet...including them. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Mass Hearing Screenings

The first week of school does not always equate to students instantly beginning speech therapy. This is something that I learned last year as I did my school practicum in graduate school during the spring. In the world of SLP, I assume that this probably varies by school district (at the risk of sounding like a broken record).

In my district, the first week of school is used for hearing screenings and figuring out our schedules. The SLPs gather together at a different school each day and screen classrooms. It usually takes us about 5 minutes per class, which is pretty good if you ask me. We create two master lists and form an assembly line (a card finder, a stamper, and a signer) to put the information on health cards. I am so glad that our EC director lets us do screenings as a group because it is a surprisingly exhausting process.

My screening audiometer looks similar to this

This year, our mass hearing screening is slightly different from what has been done in years past. My state has changed the best practice policy for hearing screenings to kindergarten, first, sixth, and ninth grades. In the past, we have only screened first, third, and fifth grades. I like the addition of the older grades as they can develop a noise induced hearing loss from listening to their i-pods/radios. They may not be as cooperative as the younger ones, but it is important to raise hearing safety awareness with this age group. The screening is a perfect way to make them wonder about the impact of their habits may have on the future. What I do not understand about the new policy is why they decided to exclude third grade considering that is when the majority of our students fail. The district's contract audiologist also did not like the idea of skipping the third grade, which makes me wonder how other states and districts handle mass screenings. (We did decide to go ahead and screen third grade with our EC directors approval.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Just one of those days

Hello friends,
        I wish my brain was set to creative mode at the moment. The first day of school; however, wiped out all of my creative energies for blogging. I guess that's what I get for spending the majority of the day before jumping from decorating my door with a "Where in the World are the Speech Detectives" (with a giant Carmen San Diego) theme and laminating everything in sight. I made it through round one of hearing screening and just want to sleep.
       On a side note--I would like to thank the wonderful individuals who gave me crime scene tape two years ago for my grad. school detective theme. I finally used it  to decorate the closet doorway and my desk. Kids desk is a crime scene (and will clearly look like one after IEPs/evals start up).
       I also figured out that my wonderful idea of fixing my in-service/SOAP note forms at the end of last year backfired. I lost the majority of those files somehow and have 9 still left to fix. Not my best day. I'm mostly upset because it will take me longer to get through the Common Core standards now. I did make a file for articulation, voice, & fluency after a suggestion from Shannen W.  a few days ago. You can find it here or on my goal bank page for Speaking & Listening.

End of complaints.....

      I found a cool game to try with my older kids soon....

The reviews on Amazon are so-so about the game. I'll take them with a grain of salt as my students loved Uno Spin last year. The reason why I have Uno in my room? I like to use the colors as a way to drill the kids. It doesn't work for all goals, but I have used it for sentence formulation. 

I also tried out a different way of schedule planning this year. I took a basic piece of poster board and wrote out time slots with the days of the week. I laminated the poster and wrote all of my students' names on post-its. I've placed the post-its around the board to schedule my groups. I'm very visual when it comes to my schedule and this seems to click better than using a spreadsheet. It made my life so much easier! All I have left to do is convert it to a computer document to give to teachers/administration

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mission Impossible? Solved. At least, for now.

My mission this summer has been to find one of several things:

1) Eric Carle books-- Got those at my library's book sale
2) Dr. Seuss books/games/etc-- Have bought several from yard sales, thrift stores, and Target
3) Echo mics

Number 3 has been driving me crazy ALL summer. I have looked in every place (ie..Walmart, Dollar Tree, Dollar General, thrift stores, yard sales.....) known to man. Why are these little mics so important to me?

The main reason I want these mics is for articulation drills. The majority of children I have encountered are natural "hams" and LOVE to perform for their own amusement (and, ours, coincidentally). Mirrors? Yeah....the kids usually start making faces at themselves immediately after I pull them out. We get to learn tons about our mouths that way. Microphones? Well, those just add an incentive to actually do the drills. They can imagine that they are rock stars, pop singers, or a singer in a Mariachi band. It doesn't really matter to me as long as it makes learning their sound(s) fun.

Secondly, these mics are not just for articulation. You can also use them to have your students pretend to be on a news show. They have to "report" about important events--namely, what's happening in the book we're reading that week--to their audience. It encourages them to pay attention to the story and it's great retell practice. You may have them ask each other questions as part of the "interview" to practice asking and answering questions. It is also a great way to work on formulating coherent sentences. Maybe, I'll even inspire one of them to go into the news someday.

8/18/12 was apparently a day of destiny. My father asked me to go with him to Target to find a new television. I went down the party isle on a whim to see if they had any cute favors for my prize box and I ended up hitting the jackpot. Yes, I found three echo mics! The best part was the lovely price of $1 each. (The television being out of stock equated to finding another mic at the Target on the other end of So I'm lucky enough to have my own "Teacher's mic" to use when I model the activities. 

If there is that one impossible item to find on your must have list, please don't give up on finding it. Persistence can pay off in the end. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Flowers in My Mind

Books possess a magical power to me as both an SLP and an avid reader. I've always loved getting lost in the plot and that's something that I want to share with people of all ages. 

Sorry for the song, but it just makes me think of reading a really good book. You can just go to that place in your mind and it becomes real for that brief moment in time.

Today, I want to share a few ways that I use books (namely picture books) in therapy. I find that these methods are always in the back of my mind when I am looking for books to purchase even if they are only .10 cents at a yard sale.

1. Wh- questions--- My kids, if they ever had the chance, would probably tell you that I am always asking questions. We talk about what they think the book is going to be about based on the cover, who the characters are, who they like and don't like (and why), where the characters are, what they are doing, what is the problem, what do the characters do about the problem, why they do that....etc. I may ask questions after a sentence, a paragraph, or a few pages depending on the goals of that group.
        If I can't ask really good questions that have clear answers within the story that my students can get, then the book is not serving it's purpose in therapy. I focus most of my energy on picture books for that reason as the pictures provide some built in help. (That's not to say that I'm against using paragraphs or chapter books with my older students as long as it is appropriate.)
2. Sequence of events-- Some books are better at this than others (hint...Laura Numeroff). I usually stop every three pages with the younger ones to review what's happening. I may even have them act it out if I have manipulatives on hand. Like this one....
And here's another great example of animated literacy using a plush. I don't have this, but I have used items like this during graduate school with preschoolers. I love the way puppets and stuffed animals can bring stories to life for these students. They can hand you the items/put it in the appropriate place as the book is being read or use it to relive the story for a second time. I have thought about using a bucket/trash can from the Dollar Tree to make an Old Lady like the idea on this blog.

3. Vocabulary-- We talk about what words the kids know and what words are new. Is there anything that can help us figure out what the new word means (ie re-read the sentence and look at the illustrations. Does it have a prefix or a suffix?). We can then draw a picture on a note card to represent what this new word means for our word wall. 
4. Predicting- What will happen next? (You may need to help them by asking "What would YOU do next?")
5. Role playing-- I particularly like to do this for stories that have a social skill involved. I've done a Thanksgiving play and several scenes from Super Duper's Social Scenes. (I love this book for older students and hope to get my hands on the rest of the set.) It takes the "What would YOU do?" a huge step forward as well as getting the kids to start using critical thinking skills to put themselves in the character's shoes. 

6. Articulation- There are some books that are wonderful for artic therapy, particularly when you are at the carryover level on several sounds. I have used early phonics readers for sentence level and longer picture books for students that are at reading/conversational level. 

Check out Scholastic, Harper Collins, and even the author's websites for printables that accompany your books. There are tons of great ideas and materials to be found just by searching google (and I do that on a regular basis). 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My kingdom for some....puppets?

Today, I thought I would post about something I love to use for early sessions of articulation therapy with my kindergartners.

These come from the Dollar Tree
My favorite puppet is called, "Sammy Snake," and he makes a hissing noise via a little voice box in his head. He is one of my many Goodwill finds. Sammy also ended up being my lifesaver last year when I got a particularly stubborn student who didn't want to cooperate. All I had to do was offer the opportunity to make Sammy talk and have him cheer for successful sound productions.

If you want puppets to use for therapy, you may want to think about recycling and revamping some old socks. I am in love with sock puppets. They are inexpensive and don't take up as much room as your more traditional puppets might. Saving money and space...I'm all in. You can even give them a back story to add even more interest and tie into language goals. So here's a quick little guide to making your own "Sammy" or perhaps "Stripes."

I'm in love with the sock puppets on this blog!

Materials:1 Sock
2 Googly eyes (whichever size you prefer) or paint
Small square of red felt
Glue (fabric glue is best)
Decorations such as ribbon for stripes or maybe fuzzy balls for spots
1. Cut the red felt into a forked tongue shape with a long base for gluing to the sock.
2. Glue the eyes near the toe end of the sock.
3. Glue the tongue underneath the toe end of the sock.
4. Decorate to your heart's content 
You can also check out this wiki space for more ideas. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Yesterday, I spent the majority of my afternoon packing up my "library." I have so many children's books that it's getting a little ridiculous. Here's my solution:

1. Get a hold of some boxes that are relatively the same size. My boxes were all used for copier paper at my father's office. My mother usually grabs the empty boxes that are set out for recycling (lol). They hold a surprising amount of books.
2. Put all of one type of book together...could be by theme, author, etc. Make sure you write down the books that you put in the boxes so you have a running list.
3. If you have animated literacy books, I would keep those items together in separate boxes.
4. Use a sharpie to label the boxes.
5. Take to school and organize the boxes in your closet. (I'm praying that I actually get access to the one in my room this year so I have a place to put all of these books!)

I picked up this little guy today for .99 cents at Goodwill. Mine doesn't have the overalls, but I can probably figure out something for him to wear. I love using If You Give a Mouse a Cookie for therapy and now I can really bring it to life. He will go well with my random collection of puppets and Dr. Seuss stuffed animals. 

I also picked up this game for 1.99 during my brief venture out. I have several students with sentence formulation goals. This game has two levels: 1) you fill in parts of a pre-formed sentence using the tiles 2) You make up your own sentence using the tiles using different parts of speech.

You could make up your own tiles using note cards cut into small squares. I would use a poster board with a grid (one side blank and the other partially filled) as the game board.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Another day, another training

I've just finished up another training....Orton-Gillingham (Comprehensive version). This one was a continuation of a training that I went to last Fall. It was the first workshop I attended for my job and one that I enjoyed.

Here's a description via their website:
A hands-on, personalized session that provides a complete understanding of IMSE’s enhanced Orton-Gillingham method and the tools necessary to apply it in the classroom. After participating in this training, teachers will be able to assess, evaluate and teach children how to read, write, and spell proficiently.Participants will learn:
  • Phonemic awareness
  • Multi-sensory strategies for reading, writing and spelling
  • Syllabication patterns for encoding / decoding
  • Reciprocal Teaching for reading comprehension
  • Multi-sensory techniques for sight words
  • Student assessment techniques

My description is that it focuses a huge amount of time on how to teach phonemic awareness to students in a systematic method that just happens to allow for entertainment too. Each lesson builds off of the last by starting with a review of the previous sounds (via flashcards, drawing letters in sand, and practice encoding/decoding simple words). You introduce the new sound via the flashcard, add a literary tie (could be a poem, nursery rhyme, or a book), practice with sand, practice in words, and add into the card deck. It seems like a great program for both Regular & Special Education teachers (and you can probably find a way to combine it with Letterland).

I like knowing the strategies that the program uses, but I don't envision doing the whole program with my students. I will probably stick to using a few of the techniques, such as drawing letters in sand while making the sound, for troublesome areas in sound-letter correspondence.

In other news, I finally finished the Language goals for Kindergarten.  It took several days to make this one. There are just so many things you can target with this group of components. It's a little overwhelming, but it will be a great way to explain our role to teachers and parents. I haven't started on the ones for 1st-5th. I imagine I will be hard pressed to get them done before school starts back up since it is requiring much more thought. I've also got several meetings next week as teachers have to report (not to mention a room to setup). However, I do hope to have all of them done by the end of the month. The end result will be worth all of the effort.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ramblings for the beginning of the school year

It's almost that magical time even though I have been in a state of denial since the middle of last week. The time where going to bed at 2am after reading several chapters of books and waking up at 11am  must cease. Yes, folks, the beginning of the school year is almost here.

As a CF, I really didn't know what to expect. The day I walked into my little room was full of emotions that ranged from delighted joy that I had my first "big girl" job and sheer terror as I had no idea what kind of trials I would face in the year to come. My imagination was filled with the kind of wonderful materials and options that you find in a university clinic which was (of course) completely wrong when I stepped into that room. A room that had one bookshelf full of an assortment of materials that were somewhat well-loved and somewhat unhelpful.

 Lesson number 1- Make sure you have something of your own to start out (something versatile) even if you aren't sure what setting you'll work in. If you do know, that is an even better opportunity to stock up and look for ideas. (Dollar tree is a great friend. Super Duper is a great friend. Pinterest is a great friend.)

Lesson number 2- It's your space now. Organize it. I started by plastering the walls with posters but rearranging the meager supplies first would have been in my best interest.  I waited for about three days before I tore into that bookshelf and fixed the Weber cards into a presentable collection. This year, materials come before wall decorations.

Lesson number 3- Reading the clients files gives you a good idea of what's going on, but you really need to take that first week in therapy to get to know their personalities. Yes, I admit that the first week of therapy wasn't my best. I just wanted to get to know my students and see how the information in the files connected to those children. It means you have to make up for those more laid-back sessions later, but it also meant the kids connected with me faster.

Lesson number 4- Scheduling. Everyone's favorite nightmare. I learned the best way to work on my schedule was to let the EC teachers do their thing first and go from there. Yes, I had to re-do my schedule about 10 times before it worked but it did eventually work. (Also, some kids can't stand each other so expect to change the groups around.) SLPs in the school need to be flexible.

In other news, I broke down and bought a game at Walmart. I know, I know...I broke my thrifty habits by paying $13 for a game (it was, however, on clearance).

I like this game because it can be used to target phonics as well as helping with spelling. I have students that need help in this area and phonics tiles can get boring with repeated uses. I'll admit that you can probably make a homemade version of Scrabble scoop using a bowl, some old spoons, letter tiles, and word cards using laminated note cards. I also could wait for it to appear at a yard sale or goodwill, but I didn't want to count up all of the little tiles. I took the easy way out this round and don't feel ashamed in the least as it's okay to go this route sometimes. It counts as my once a month "nice" material pick (usually I buy something from Super Duper).  

Saturday, August 4, 2012


So I have been procrastinating on my next Common Core goal bank. I have the grade level information in files, but I've been watching the Olympics rather than writing goals. The ones that I do have finished are on my Quick Reference page. I hope to get started sometime soon now that gymnastics is pretty much finished.

On to my topic for the day, I scored a great deal at Target in their dollar spot section. They currently have flashcards on a variety of topics. I snagged the following: insects, USA animals, world animals, USA presidents, USA states, and phonics. The flash cards are great for quick auditory comprehension or reading comprehension tasks. They have a variety of short facts that children will find interesting. Most are two-to-three lines in length which suits my needs just fine.They also have great pictures that hold visual interest and can be turned into a "name that ------" game for vocabulary. I'm planning on using the animal cards for a monthly unit and the presidents/states for election season. (If you are doing an election unit, you should check out the Dollar Tree for their cute ballot boxes.)

I also picked up a Dr. Seuss match game and 4 pocket charts. The pocket charts will be great for creating sentences using word tiles or phonics activities using my phonics tiles. If you don't want to buy these tiles (like me), you can make similar items by using different colored notecards & a marker. You can also use bottle caps, but those won't fit very well into the pocket charts. (These bottle caps can also be used for fun games such as this one, which I am currently in the process of making for my bag of tricks this year.)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Blog Nomination

I want to give a special shout out to Tai Patrice over at Speech Chic and Alicia at Chalk Talk. They nominated Miss Thrifty SLP for 2 awards!!

For receiving these awards I must...

1. Follow the person who gave me the award
2. Link back 
3. Thank the blogger who nominated me 
4. Include the award image in my post
5. Give 7 random facts about myself
 6. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award
7. When nominating, include a link to the blog
8. Let other bloggers know they've been nominated

My 7 Random Facts:
1. I would LOVE to go to United Kingdom for an extended vacation. It's been a long time dream of mine.
2. If I could do anything in the world without having to worry about an income, it would be studying cultural history. My heart will always be yearning to learn more about literature as a reflection of historical periods, particularly as a tool for imperialist propaganda. That being said, I love my current field and have very few regrets about choosing a different path.
3. My cat responds to me whistling rather than calling out his name. (Granted, he's the only one out of five that responds to me calling out at all.)
4. I'm a book/craft-based therapist. I rarely use games in my therapy sessions other than as a reinforcer.
5. I went two years without eating any potatoes and lost a bunch of weight. (Unfortunately, I need to do another round of dieting)
6. I like to watch House Hunters.
7.  Best pizza ever! It's the only frozen pizza I will eat now.

15 Blogs: 
1. Sublime Speech 
2. Public School SLPs
3. Speech Room News
4. Speak Jane Speak
5. Crazy Speech World
6. Speaking of Kids
7. Mommy Speech Therapy
8. Speech Lady Liz
9. Speech in Room 214
10. Carrie's Speech Corner
11. Adventures in Tutoring & Special Education
12. Speech/Language? There's an App for that
13. Heard in Speech
14. The Speech Spot
15. Chapel Hill Snippets