Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sitting on the dock of the bay.....

I think there should be a list of activities for SLPs without a voice to do on a sick day. It would help increase my sense of accomplishment.....so here's my top 8 list. 

1. Sleep until 11 am
2. Watch a hallmark/lifetime channel movie that's tear inducing  
3. Take a four hour nap
4. Check email once the entire day and spend the rest of the time as far away from the computer as humanly possible
5. Snuggle with a pet
6. Take a two hour nap
7. Practice oral motor exercises in the bathroom mirror 
8. Watch HGTV 

I've been working on a file now for several weeks. If you like it (and I hope you do), please feel free to show me some facebook likes. It's a good way to keep up with when I post freebies as well as seeing some of my favorite freebie finds that I don't include on this blog. 

Here is a copy of Oceans Away for you. The file includes animal fact cards, wh- questions to use with the cards, some ocean themed vocabulary words, and a suggested book list. There is also a beach scene with pieces that you can use for following directions. I didn't create task cards for those because I don't always use tasks cards in my sessions.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Under the weather blues....

I am sorry that I haven't posted much this week in terms of freebies or crafts. My camera is broken so I will have to figure out a better (yet inexpensive kind) to buy. I have several crafts that I really can't wait to share so I'm pretty sad about it.

In other news, my allergies are completely out of control this year. I don't have too much trouble with flower pollen but tree pollen is my worst nightmare. It's not much fun to be an SLP with no voice, hardly any ability to swallow food without major discomfort, and two kindergarten screenings to do in the upcoming week. It's been mindless hours of Hallmark channel movies and frozen yogurt bars for me.

I have many articulation students who are at the carry-over/conversational level. I made a quick activity to use with them that also incorporates language skills. The first one is for /s/.

Here is a copy of What Goes Together /s/ for you. It's the first time I've tried uploading a powerpoint file so let me know if it doesn't work. *fingers crossed*

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Confessions of a blogger

So....I cannot get my camera to work. I've tried for two days with every available new battery and so far it won't turn on. I may have to stick to my thrifty finds for a couple of weeks until I figure out what's wrong/buy a new one.

In the meantime, I thought I would answer a question that many SLP bloggers get. How do you find the time?

Obviously, every bloggers situation is different. I have one job from 7:15-3:30 (usually 4/4:30) during the school year and no children/husband. My biggest commitment at the moment is my cat. I'm also living with family so I can save up money to buy a house. So really....I have about the same amount of free time that I had in college. My thrift shopping takes up a chunk of that time, but I have the nights to relax or make materials. (I learned the hard way that bringing home paperwork stresses me out.)

Making materials takes a varied amount of time. I may make something on the computer in one night or it could take me three weeks. Motivation is the key. My craft projects usually take an hour, but some take more like the pronoun notebooks. It's something that I really love doing. I've always enjoyed artsy things like singing and drawing. (Please note, creativity is not a requirement for this field any more than having a super bubbly personality. You just need to enjoy learning and working with people.)

As far as actually writing posts, I don't have a schedule set in stone for my blog. I write it as I have time. My first priority is getting stuff done for my job and students.

In other news, here are two of my thrifty finds for this week.....

Bug Trails by Thinkfun for $2 at my local Christian thrift store. It was practically brand new too. You can read a blog review here.

Don't Rock the Boat by Patch Products at the same store for $3 brand new. I plan on using both games for reinforcement. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Speech Ninjas in the house

I don't know very many kids who dislike ninjas. They're sneaky and almost super-human in their strength. So I made a new activity for my students working on cause & effect. The cat & mouse cards are completely filled in. The squirrel and white owl cards give students the opportunity to develop their own set of effects. I also threw in a sound tracker for my articulation groups. The kids can either fill-in the circles with an expo marker or the little owl chips. The brown and orange owl cards can be used for making up rhyming words.

Here's a copy of Speech Ninjas for you.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Kindergarten screenings: Round #1

Well, I just wrapped up day two of kindergarten screening at school #1. I have to help at 4 out of the 5 elementary schools this year. It's time to share some thoughts on the DIAL 4. The 4th Edition came out last year so this is my second year of giving this to little ones.

The Good:
It's fairly quick when "tag-teamed" and not too terrible when solo.
You can memorize it quickly.
It looks at a variety of readiness skills.
It gives a snapshot of the child and you can make comments to remind yourself of a child that might have some articulation errors.

The Bad:
I Spy- This is the section I HATE. I don't know why they decided to use a ton of blends (sh, br, fl) but kids bomb this part of the screener. They also don't have enough things in the picture containing the above sounds.
You have to constantly write in the hearing screen results on the front of the screen as there's nothing on the form for it.
Articulation- Twig? Really...all the kids call it a stick. Splash is also a frequently missed word. Water, anyone?
Name & Function- Tweezers. It gets them every time.

In the end, kindergarten screening can be a fun time though. I enjoy seeing all of the little ones and it gives a little bit of a glimpse into what next year holds. Some schools even turn the event into a really fun moment for the kids with themes like Hollywood.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday, monday....

 I wish that we could have a day when everything on the news was positive. I would love to spend a day hearing about all the good things in the world--people overcoming disabilities or horrible life situations, scientific research finding cures to cancer, solutions to end hunger, etc.... My heart goes out to the citizens of Boston and all the lives touched by the Marathon. I'm not a runner, but I admire people who have the discipline to pursue the lifestyle.
 This is another pinterest inspired project. I saw the five point scale one day and decided to make an activity for it. The result is the 5 point poster with Velcro pieces. I just popped the statements into word and cut the circles with the die-cutter. 
I also made a "feelings meter" poster for my travel cart. 
Finally, I loved the little peacocks so much that I just had to make another activity. The Peacock Games is more of an inferencing based activity. I threw in some describing cards as well. You can grab your copy here

Friday, April 12, 2013

My love of dollar tree knows no bounds aka how I make cheap articulation decks

I love the Dollar Tree. I could seriously write an ode to them. They have some of the cutest stuff that can be modified for therapy. Not to mention the godsend that is their Teacher Tree section. Almost all of the posters I have in my room are part of their classroom decor options. 

One handy thing about their Teacher Tree section are the pre-made die cuts. They have packs of single images, related objects, and varieties based on themes. The arts and craft section also has really cute foam shapes in packs of 8-10 pieces. I love the bright colors. 

The worst part about them is laminating. 
This is just a tiny glimpse of my collection. It's spread between home and work at the moment. I like to keep the cards handy in case I start feeling bored (at home) or fed-up with paperwork. Yes, dear readers, when I start getting frustrated with my paperwork I vent via creative projects. That is literally how half of my ideas are born. I will start thinking of all kinds of neat things I could be doing rather than typing my life away on the computer. The nice thing is that my procrastination is at least productive. 

I haven't quite finished with my cupcake set yet. The deck is for /k/, but I am also forcing myself to make each double-sided card about two related things. I love knowing that the completed cards will serve a dual purpose. 

Here is a partial picture of a completed set that I used for St. Patty's day. I used foam shapes from the Dollar Tree for this one. The glitter is a bit annoying when you are trying to write the words. I recommend getting sets that don't have those if you can help it. My articulation students hunted for shamrocks and my language groups hunted for gold (just butcher block paper) to put in the cauldron.

The cost per project varies on the size of the pack. I usually buy three smaller packs (8-15) or one large pack (36). I usually use these worksheets as my word lists or a quick google search for whatever sound I happen to need. Enchanted learning has a pretty good little phonetic dictionary too.

Edit: I've had several questions for ideas on how to use these guys via facebook. Here are some:
-Multiple meaning words matching. The kids have to give you one on their own based on the two cards they have.
-Synonyms, Homophones, Antonyms
-Pronouns using small magazine pictures in the middle of the cards
-Following Directions. You can break 2 step directions down to one per card. This creates more variety and some interesting combinations to say the least.
-Phonemic Awareness with the single image cards
-Word Associations
-Irregular plural match ups   -Regular plural sort via -s vs. -es endings
-Matching items to their description
-Scrambled sentences with the single image cards            -Parts of Speech Sort
-Rhyming word match up   -Sight Word Cards      -Upper/lowercase letter match up  -Open ended games

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Hangman fun

I mentioned early that the students at my school seem to be suffering from a little something that I like to call the Spring Break blues. It's a pain that I have felt all too well, particularly in college. You get spoiled by the opportunity to sleep-in, play all day in the beautiful sunshine, and stay up late watching t.v. or reading books. 

We read the Umbrella before the break and this week I have introduced my older students to another Jan Brett book. 

You can read all about the book at Brett's awesome website.
This is an awesome book that I found for .50 cents at a Goodwill store in a neighboring town. It's particularly great if your students get to participate in "chicken hatching" as I call it. Our second graders get to take care of eggs as part of their life cycle unit. They loved connecting this story to their experience with the baby chicks. 

Every session with my older students has started out with a review of wh- question words before reading the story. I find that they have a tendency to forget quickly. My story retell rope made its disappearance this week so I could see just how much they remember independently. Some groups still need the visuals so I modified hangman to incorporate a drawing of each meaning. The rules are simple: I win a point if they can't tell me the word before the picture is complete. You better believe that I had tons of motivated kids. They LOVE to beat the teacher. 

This is the best one of my pitiful attempts. Thankfully my students are used to my crappy upside down drawing skills.
I also used hangman with wh- questions as we read the story. They didn't let me score a single point!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Let there be games....

Today, was the first day back to school for my district. The students were either really on top of things or completely off. Luckily, I get to see my younger students on Mondays. I find that it is easier to, shall we say, trick them into doing their work than my older groups. 

My solution to the Spring break blues......Dr. Seuss's Cat in the Hat I can do that! Game. I picked it up over the break for $3. It was only missing the ball, which I replaced with a yellow stress ball. 

It's a great game for following directions at the kindergarten/first grade level. Students are extremely motivated by the various objects and it keeps them moving. They hopped, spun, skipped, crawled, and walked backwards without any complaints. The only complainer was me. While I love this game, the "trick-a-ma-stick" is a royal pain in the rear. It looks so perfect in the picture but I could not get the thing to stand up straight. It also falls over if you breathe on it wrong. Oh well, nothing in life is perfect. 

I also introduced my students to Uno Moo. I've had this game since it was put on sale (half price) at Walmart for Christmas. It's lived in the speech closet ever since. I finally pulled it out and played it with my students as well. The game play is very quick and it seems to be a hit with the first grade crew. (Heck, I had 4th graders playing with it and laughing.) My favorite thing is that it teaches turn-taking and similarities without the demands of the higher level Uno games. 

Finally, I am 2 likes away from having 300 likes on facebook. I don't want to keep everyone waiting until 300 (although it would be great to reach that number) so I'm going to go ahead and post the freebie. It took me two weeks to create this so I hope it will be useful for at least one person out there....

Here is Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down- Social Skills All Around. You can grab your copy here. If you love this clip art as much as I do, you may want to check out Miss Speechie's Star Speech fluency/pragmatics activity


Friday, April 5, 2013

Charming peacocks invade....

My caseload is quickly becoming filled with girls. You can probably imagine their complaints with the overload of boyish materials. I have been racking my brain trying to figure out activities that are more uni-sex or girl friendly. Thankfully, I found this awesome clip art yesterday. It is just the thing I have been looking for to use with my second project of the week. The Peacock Princess activity is a mixture of several different targets that I plan to review with my girly-girls. It includes alphabet matching (upper & lower case letters with diagraphs included)/phonemic awareness if you chose to print out more than one set of the letters; past & present tense verb agreement; pronouns with a sorting mat; naming; and a few cards for articulation review. 

You can grab your copy here.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Snails for Summer...

April is going to be a month of craziness. It's the month that my district does kindergarten screenings. We're minus two SLPs so it means that the rest of us get to go to almost every elementary school. I look at this time as a good way to meet incoming students and a chance to watch my coworkers in action. Yes, part of me misses the way we could observe each other in graduate school. It's a great way to pick up little tricks that most of us wouldn't consider out of the ordinary (heck, I doubt we would even think they'd be worth a blog post...but to someone else they are indeed). The screenings also speak volumes about each individual school. As far as I can tell, it is up to members of the schools to organize screenings and the approaches vary widely. I've seen schools that go all out trying to drum up excitement in the children (Hollywood theme) and ones that are extremely disorganized. 

This week I am trying to make a few things ahead of time for May as well as playing catch up on Medicaid billing. Two of them are still in the works but the first one is done. Snails for summer is loosely based on a summer camp theme. The packet has general vocabulary word cards that can be used to describe/define/create a sentence, wh- questions, a few following directions tasks, and a naming task. My aim is to make this packet non-specific so I can use it with several different stories. You can grab your copy here.

There are some suggestions for books and other free resources  on the second page. 
Hope you enjoy!