Sunday, March 30, 2014

Weight Lifting in Speech

I briefly posted about this activity right before I went off for the NCSHLA convention. One lovely reader requested that I give more explanation into the activity so here goes nothing! (And, I apologize for not posting a better explanation the first time.)

Like most SLPs, a large portion of my students are male. I have found that they like nothing better than to argue over who is taller or has the biggest muscles even as kindergartners. So I had the brilliant idea as a CFY to start teaching them that /r/ is a heavy sound. They have to make their tongue muscles as strong as they can to lift the heavy sound up. It worked for the most part. 

I have a group of first graders this year that are very visual learners (in addition to having some really short attention spans). The concept of actually "lifting" with their arms helped increase their focus, but they would eventually get tired of just pretending to hold a weight.

So I went to my collection of paper towel & toilet paper rolls. I balled up some black paper for each of the ends and covered everything in a nice layer of masking type. I added grey paper to the middle of the bigger "weights" to make it look more realistic. (I couldn't get the little one to cooperate.) 

My students get to "lift" the weight that they think best compares to their production. So a 5lb needs a lot of work, a 20lb is almost there, and a 50lb is perfect.  If they aren't sure, I let them ask their peers to help or I will point to the one that I think fits best.

So far it has really captured their interest and they are learning to self-monitor their speech without even realizing it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Recycle and re-use...

There are probably millions of possibilities for empty toilet paper & paper towel rolls. I use them from time to time with my students when we make take-home crafts or puppets. However, they are also a great option for DIY material projects. 

Here's one idea that I recently came up with.....Category twists. You can grab a copy of the file I made here to get your own project started.

I made the file in black & white since I don't have a color printer. It didn't take too long to color the pictures.

I cut the pictures out and put them on strips of heavy duty construction paper. I decided to stick with a color pattern for this project, but you really don't have to put them on the same color.

The tricky part is getting the strips taped. I cut the toilet paper rolls in half to match the width of the construction paper. This makes it somewhat easier to curl the paper around the roll. 

As you can see, I also decided to make another tube for fairy tale story starters. I don't have a PDF file for that as I just wrote down things that my students have mentioned to me over the year.

One down and a handful more to go....

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Easter freebie finds

The best laid plans go to waste sometimes....and that would be the case of me making something for Easter this year. I'm pretty sure it's not going to happen thanks to the general craziness that is life. Granted, I've had to put a few ideas aside already so I could have some me time. That's one of the hardest parts of blogging. It is so easy to let all things SLP consume every waking hour if I would let it. So I'm going to Teachers Pay Teachers to find a few good filler activities to coordinate with my Easter books. (And, honestly, I think Easter is the HARDEST holiday to tackle. There's just such a fine line to walk with the topic and then the kids will come out with something religious in the middle of the session.)

So here are some freebies that I hope to use with my groups:

1) Easter Egg Hunt Sentence Mash Up
2) Easter Pronouns
3) Smash the Bug for Articulation
4) An Egg-stra Big Mess! Comparative/Superlative Adjectives
5) Easter Noun Sort
6) Basket of Prepositions
7) Chick Craft

Bonus Finds
1) Petite Pocket Program- Vocabulary
2) Parent Handouts- K, GF, B, P

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A few things that I love from Scholastic....

Since March is my birthday month, I'm trying to focus on things that I love or that make my life just a little bit easier. I love Scholastic for their picture books. The illustrations are pretty hard to beat and the prices aren't horrible if you can hit a clearance (or find them at Goodwill). The thing that I often forget about is are their teacher products. Frankly, I blame this on the fact that the website highlights so many worksheet books. I try to avoid using worksheets with my elementary students (though I used quite a few for my middle school case load). However, I couldn't resist digging through their books during the most recent Dollar Days sale. It was worth it.

Several teachers recommended looking into this book over the past three years. I can certainly see why now that I have used it with my students.

The poems are perfect for articulation therapy at the reading level. They are short, but loaded with great sound targets. Even my most reluctant reader asked to read three of the poems. I printed out the entire book and marked the ones that will see frequently use.

The story skit book is another articulation purchase. I have a few students that enjoy expressing themselves through acting and this is a great outlet. The stories are loaded with their target sounds and include a word list after each skit.

The great thing about both of these books is that I can also incorporate them into language activities. The authors provide some great new vocabulary words for our lessons.
Word Ladders have been a passion of mine since I used them at my graduate school internship in the prison system. They are a great way to work on segmenting and blending sounds. It also brings up great opportunities to learn new vocabulary words and use some inferencing to figure out the next word from the clues.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A bad case of the robot talk.....

Spring is my favorite season. The warmer weather (not too hot or too cold), the new flowers, and just the sense of energy coming back....It makes me very happy to think about those things. The thing that I am not so happy about is my 5th year college reunion and turning 27. It makes me feel so old! I wish there was a way to freeze time for just a little bit. 
My birthday present to myself.
I know that many bloggers go all out for their blog anniversaries and birthdays, but that's not really my style. I prefer to keep things low key. So I thought I would just share a song and tell you about my latest endeavor. 

I have a couple of older students who are struggling to talk with proper intonation, volume, and rate. It's been an issue that has gotten progressively worse over the course of the year. These concepts are SO hard to teach to students. They cannot hear themselves doing it and I don't always have access to a digital recorder. (Adding that to my therapy shopping list.) I decided to make a small little book to help them practice these skills. My method is to combine a page or two of the packet with reading from a book. I love using books because of the punctuation clues. It's also easier to use books for modeling and imitation as it forces them to use a slightly slower pace. I can usually figure out which word they intended to stress in a book instead of having to ask them. 

You can grab your copy of Robot Talk here.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Teaching Together with Teddy Talker

As if I weren't all ready impressed with the amazing versatility of Teddy Talker, I wanted to tell you about how the new Teach Together Toolkit has really knocked my socks off. 


Well, for starters, the "Toolpages" for each of the 38 sounds bring to mind all the principles for literacy instruction that I learned about in Orton-Gillingham training. Lessons should be systematic, sequential, explicit, and multi-sensory. The Toolkit holds all of these tenants. Students are explicitly taught about the letter-sound correspondent using child (and parent)-friendly terminology. They learn to manipulate the cue pieces of their own copy of Teddy Talker right from the start with a lesson on basic oral anatomy. I store the mouth pieces and tongue puppet in a "Teddy Folder" for each of my students. Once they complete the introductory lesson, I take one of two paths: a) focus on the target articulation sound that the student needs or b) follow the sequence for teaching the sounds that I learned in my Orton-Gillingham training for my inclusion students. (You can use sequences from other reading programs too.)

Each lesson involves explicitly teaching the student how to prepare the oral structures for production with visuals and auditory cues. The student may be asked to trace the letters with his/her fingers while producing the sound (you could have them trace the letter on the page in crayon with plastic canvas underneath as a means of creating even more sensory input as they trace with their fingers) or joint read his rhyming story. They learn new vocabulary words and rhyming words with each of the 38 sounds. Students are even asked to do some inferencing to tell the adult "why" Teddy calls a sound by X name. In the lessons that I have done so far with my articulation groups, I've also added in the extra element of Visual Phonics as a sort of secret "Teddy Code." I start sending home the Teddy folders once I have gone through the lessons at school with my students. This way, they have already experienced success with the activities and are less likely to get frustrated at home.

The Toolkit also includes a sound assessment, listening games, lesson ideas, mini-Alphabet chart, and award pages. It's such a comprehensive tool whether you prefer the notebook (like me) or the PDF version.

Now, of course, that little Teddy face is not just sticking to our homework folders. I have come up with two ideas already to help manage some behavioral issues with my Teddy groups.

1) Role play hat. I haven't come across too many students that turn down the opportunity to play pretend, particularly when you tell them to act like an animal of any sort. My idea is to use the role play hat with groups of two or three students. Each student gets a chance to play "teacher" as well as "Teddy." The "teacher" has to teach "Teddy" how to say the sound.

The hat is really easy to make. I simply printed out an extra Teddy Face and colored him. I backed the face with some brown poster paper before taping to a sentence strip. You can probably skip the poster paper if you have card stock handy, but the sentence strips are a must. Once the Teddy's face was laminated, I added a little Velcro for the mouth pieces. (As a side note, I ran out of Velcro before I got to his bow for the voicing cues...)

2) Token box reinforcer. This project is very similar to the Old Lady tissue box craft that I made a while ago for sequencing. However, I use it to reward good target productions by feeding Teddy. It is a bit more complicated than the Teddy hat simply due to the mechanics of getting the mouth right. I ended up tracing Teddy's happy mouth as it was the best one for my tissue box. Again, I backed Teddy's face using brown construction paper to ensure a longer lifespan. (I didn't do that with my Old Lady and she did eventually rip.) I strongly suggest getting the face laminated before you attach him to the tissue box for extra stability. You can draw honey drops or use erasers for food. 

So there you have it! We just can't get enough of Teddy Talker.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Winter can go away any time now.....

We had a very bad ice storm in the wee hours of Thursday morning. It knocked out power and cable for about a 30 mile radius. My neighbors nearly had a tree collapse on their house (missed by about 6 inches) and I saw a tree nearly hit a car in front of us at dinner. It's so nice to finally be back online and able to see how my friends have fared. I guess it's just Mother Nature's way of reminding the good citizens of North Carolina that we are not in charge. 

Since it is March, I am trying to put my best foot forward with a wacky leprechaun. Our guest turned my books upside down. 

My third grade students were not impressed with the footprints. They now think that the custodian is trying to prank us. The little ones didn't even notice.

My one stroke of brilliance for  last week: "Weight Lifting" our speech sounds. It's a huge hit with my younger students already.

The weights are made out of paper towel holders that are just covered in butcher paper. I plan on making a smaller 5 lb weight with a toilet paper roll for "weak" productions. The 50 lb weight is for perfect productions.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

This is what happens when your exhausted....

This week has seen lots of Read Across America activities at my school. I couldn't participate in the dress-up themes thanks to IEP meetings so I decided to at least do the door decorating contest. 

This was the quickest and easiest thing I could think of, but the students are still impressed with him. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

March comes in like a lion....

Is it really March? It is so hard to believe that February has come and gone. I guess time flies by when you are working on 6 IEPs and getting new students settled into the therapy routine. Here's a brief look back at what we did:
Last craft activity of February from Creative Speech Product's newest therapy tool: Teddy Talker's Teach Together Toolkit. You talk about some very happy students. They LOVED making their own tongue puppets.
All of my language groups have learned the first three strands of the Expanding Expression Tool using picture cards. We are still working on getting the hang of the fourth.
It took a while to finish our super hero capes up thanks to all of the snow.
I hope March will hold even more crafty fun as we begin to use my newest creation, Colorful Directions. My main purpose in creating this packet was to have something for following directions with a seasonal flair. My students love to color and I've searched Amazon relentlessly to find something that would involve following directions. Nothing really appealed to me so I spent the past two months tolling away at this guy. (You really wouldn't believe the hours these things take to make.) The pages go from a back-to-school theme to summer. I like knowing that I can use this for years to come and add in other picture themes as I need.

Hope you enjoy!